My first conference paper. In fact, my first conference, full stop.
I had no idea what to expect; I had visions of talking to vast lecture theatres full of bored scholars, of condescending looks over horn-rim half-moons, of nondescript hotel lounges and heavy drinking sessions. I could hardly have been more wrong.
Durham is beautiful. Saint Chad’s College was a connected street of Georgian townhouses which, if not for the ubiquitous red brick, might have been in Edinburgh. It’s most striking feature was a courtyard which had been covered with a glass roof. At night, it felt like standing in an inside out house, window-boxes and drain-pipes on the inside. I was less enamoured with the cathedral bells two hundred yards away which chimed every fifteen minutes, all through the night. My window was nailed open.
The BASR are a jolly bunch. I first met the other bursary students, with whom I’m to write a conference report for the BASR bulletin, and they were lovely. Then I caught up with a number of lovely friends I only see occasionally. And over the three days I met a number of other lovely people. Much of this was due to the SECRET PROJECT, which became rather less secret and in fact, rather successful. More on this soon.
My paper went well. “The Demythologisation of Religious Symbols in Contemporary Extraterrestrial Narratives”, you’ll remember. I was glad I presented on the last day, though. I’d worked hard on it, writing two full drafts and numerous tweaks, rehearsing it at least eight times, reducing and tightening every time. It was still running a little over, though. But having seen the other papers, I knew that they were strict on timing but weren’t too worried about definitions. So I scored the definitions right out. And I could see that it was far less enjoyable when someone was reading – especially when it meant they were racing through something that had not been designed to be presented. So I went off book, and winged it. Which worked great, I had everyone in the room onside and was able to respond to them better. I even got a few laughs. I’ve been offered a writing job on the back of it, and someone else wants to cite me. That’s a fair success, I’d say. Was it worth the fortnight of diarrhea and nausea beforehand. Absolutely.
The next few weeks will be spent writing the classes for my two adult ed courses; the first, Introduction to the New Testament, begins on Tuesday. I’m almost looking forward to it this time. And on the Wednesday, I’ll be chairing my first seminar. Exciting times.