In my experience, academic conferences are the perfect venue for geeking out over scholars that you like. For example, at the recent Association for Canadian Studies in the United States (abbreviated ACSUS; pronounced, to my chagrin, “axis;” and held in Ottawa, which confounded the border guard) conference, I leapt at the opportunity to ask John Herd Thompson for his autograph at the meet and greet on Wednesday. He wrote an awesome paper about political cartoons that inspired the paper I presented on Saturday.
Speaking of my presentation… When I first arrived at the conference on Saturday, I could not for the life of me find the Manitoba room (which was misleadingly labelled in the conference program). So far, so good – I couldn’t even find the room I was meant to present in!
When I arrived in the room, my co-presenter greeted me warmly and got quite close, so I panicked and hugged her in my confusion. Who does that to someone they have never met before?!
Turns out, she was probably going in for the French-Canadian kiss on both cheeks, so that was a nice faux pas on my part.
THEN, three professors from Carleton showed up to listen to what I was sure was going to be an epic disaster, and my poor co-presented accidentally introduced me as a student from the University of Ottawa. Cue groans / outcry from the Carleton professors.
This was all working together for a promising, auspicious start to pending embarrassment, shame, and flight from academia.
After Pamela presented her excellent paper about Métis humor in Bufflo and Sprucegum, it was my turn to present on tricksters, jesters, and political cartooning in the settler-invader colony today known as Canada.
I had practiced my paper twice, so I knew it would take about 20 minutes, and I always like to plan(t) a few jokes (and let the others come as they may). I also had some great images to accompany my academic treatise, which were a big hit.
The icing on the cake, though, was when I was just about to read the sentence that starts “As John Herd Thompson says in his article…” when who else but John Herd Thompson himself walked in the door! I said “Oh, I was just about to talk about you!” as he settled himself in the front row, and preceded to wow the audience with my cunning analysis of visual imagery. Or something. They laughed a lot–hopefully at the cartoons–and it all went down better than I could have ever imagined.
THEN, I got to have an hour lunch with the inspiring John Herd Thompson himself, who offered to send me loads of totally cool stuff for future research and mentioned several people I should get in touch with as I pursue my various projects, and (I’d like to think) a lovely time was had by all.
It was a super-amazing-awesome-tastic conference, and I am so pleased to be getting more involved with MWACS (figure that acronym out!) and ACSUS.