Mostly (not) on McSweeney's!

A blog for my academic ideas, more or less.

Conference Concupiscence

So I went to my first conference this weekend past.

It was in Sheffield, which at one point in time looked like this:

It was this conference on Identity and Form.

I had never been to Sheffield before. I woke up at 5am to get a 6am train to Sheffield from St Pancras. I cycled to the station. London was quiet at that time.

It was good to meet new people that cared about some of the things I did. I’d like to keep in touch with them.I probably won’t manage to keep in touch with them all. But the ones in London maybe will be easier.

I was thinking about this article a bit.

I gave a paper on “McSweeney’s and identity formation through formal cannibalization”.

I wrote the abstract a while ago. The paper I wrote a couple of weeks ago didn’t quite fit with the abstract. I rewrote it some more on the train to Sheffield.

Thomas Docherty gave the plenary lecture on the Friday. He talked about identity criticism, politics, and literature as the search for knowledge. Identity as conformity to a rule. Identity criticism as an unwanted reduction of the self to a signature, to a style. That does not reflect the reality of our experience of our own subjectivity. Literature as becoming, as opposed to literature as being. Indeterminacy over determinacy. I wrote down a lot while he was speaking. I have been reading his book The English Question this week.

What he says about identity and literature also resonates with my thinking about culture/society in general lately.

I am drawing parallels between what I interpret Thomas Docherty as saying and what David Foster Wallace is saying in his much-reposted commencement address.

I didn’t stay for the Saturday. I couldn’t get money to pay for a hotel. I got the train back to London at half eight.

I’m currently finishing a paper for this conference in Berlin. I have never been to Berlin. I am quite excited. I am incorporating some ideas from Thomas Docherty and David Foster Wallace into the paper I am writing. McSweeney’s and becoming. A catalyst for conversions. Periodicals poised between past and future, resist conformity/identity.


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