Monday, January 05, 2009

Post-MLA Thoughts

Well, I've officially "done" the MLA thing. I can say that I'm happy I went, but this is mainly because the trip was (mostly) paid for with award funds, and I didn't have the pressure of an interview. Yep, no interviews for me this year. I thought I'd be sad about this, but sadness, disappointment, resentment, etc. never came. I was actually a bit relieved, as an interview could have led to a campus visit, which could have led to a job, which would have ensured an enormous pressure to finish all revisions by the time the baby comes in early May. This last task is no small feat, given the fact that I'm team-teaching a course I've never taught before this spring.

By all accounts, the trip to San Francisco was a good one: lovely friends with whom to share my time, lunches, dinners, and sightseeing; a couple of great panels; the opportunity to be introduced to several other big names in my field (a perk of having an advisor who's been doing this for more than 20 years); and a solid sense of the ebb and flow of conference traffic and energy. Should I get an interview in December 2009, I have a definite idea of what I'll do differently (i.e. NOT stay in one of the conference hotels, so as to avoid the whole anxious, crazy energy that permeates the air of every hallway, nook and cranny). A few things I was struck by during my first MLA:

- ill-fitting suits (too many to count), which I'm guessing can be chalked up to graduate students who don't have the money to pay for quality business attire

- how easy it was to spot an MLA-er in a crowd, no matter how far away from the conference you travelled

- the constant flow of traffic in/out of panels, right in the middle of other people's presentations (this is tied with the number of people just dozing through the papers)

- the ridiculous cost of EVERYTHING associated with any of the conference hotels ($13.95 for a 24-hour period of wi-fi access)

- the comfort and ease of the shuttle system between hotels (one of my favorite things!)

- the book exhibit!! Had I known of the wonders of the book exhibit, I surely would have saved all my money to spend here on the last day of the conference, when most things were 50% off!

- how lovely (and awkward) the cash bar can be. I loved seeing all the people from my department in one place, but trying to make small, yet impressive, talk with our job candidates was difficult, especially knowing that only a few of them would make it back for campus visits.

Perhaps the best news I got was from my advisor, who ended up knowing two of the people on the search committee for a job that would have been *really, really* good for me. She ran into them at MLA, and they indicated that they were "impressed" with my materials and I "would likely have been on their short list" had the job search not been cancelled. This news is good enough for me right now, to simply know that my work can hold its own a bit, even ABD.

I have decided, however, that I won't be buying a ticket for MLA 2009 unless I actually get an interview request. It's just too much money to throw away, and Hubby also has the AHA (American Historical Association) to attend immediately after MLA. Of course, he could save us much of the trouble by landing a job during this spring's job season! A girl can dream, right?

1 comment:

LD said...

Sounds like you had a great experience