Friday, January 07, 2005

The kids are alright.

Just back from Tuscaloosa and day one of the Strode Symposium: Les Enfants Terribles, a meeting of the supposedly six best Shakespearean drama scholars under 40. At least I knew two of them and one of those is a good good friend, Bryan Reynolds of UC Irvine and "transversal poetics" fame.We first hung out at the Ritz Carlton Buckhead! You see the annual Shakespeare Association Meeting was always booked by this rich female professor from Vanderbilt, Ann Jennalie Cook, and she went for the best hotel or at least an old grand dame in each town (We did the Drake in Chicago par example). Anyway Bryan and I sat at the same table for the big boring lunch and hung out at the bar for much of the remainder of he conference. My favorite memory of our yearly SAA meetings was the ride from Albuquerque to Sante Fe and the rooftop lunch at Mark Miller's Coyote Cafe, featuring Baja pescado soft corn tacos.

Last fall I got to visit with Bryan, his wife (a former student! but she came back to school at like 30 after a lengthy modeling career), and newborn baby on his home turf. He was the host for the annual group on Early Modern Cultural Studies which met at the Newport Beach Marriott on the Pacific bluffs right across the street from Fashion Island! That's for all you OC fans out there. We even survived the massive wildfires and managed to return back to Starkvegas on schedule.

He's a cool cat, and I was extremely pleased he was honored by Gary Taylor and The Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies for his accomplishments. We had a good time quaffing an ale at Egan's Bar across University Blvd from the egregious Houndstooth sports bar. Lunch at Bento's which used to be the Thai place on University Boulevard above Subway.

Now as to the conference:

Carla Mazzio (University of Chicago)
"'The History of Air': Shakespeare and the Evaporating Self"

Bryan Reynolds (University of California, Irvine)
"Transversal Theater: Subjunctivity and Intelligence to Hamlet Beyond Baboons".

11:30 lunch (any interested faculty invited)

Starting a Career: six really successful young academics under 40 talk and answer questions about research, teaching, mentors, conferences, job searches, networking, technology, panic, grants, etc.

Tiffany Stern (Brookes University, Oxford, England)
"Watching as Reading -- the Audience and Text in the Early Modern Playhouse"

It was fun to be around a group of really smart people with an intense interest in an area I know a little something about. I could have extended conversations on the following kinds of topics without anybody looking at me like I'm a wierdo:

air as constitutive medium for communication
humoral psychology and consciousness
aqueous versus non-aqueous "vapors"
whether or not "fatwood" was a current usage in renaissance English
Baboons and "Machiavellian intelligence"
4 plus kinds of "plot" in renaissance stage materialism but primarily the kind of plot or argument attached to a play as brief precis
The failure of the star system in improving higher education as evidenced by the utter inanity of Helen Vendler's Sonnets books (she spent nine years on a vanity project which doesn't forward scholarship one iota but somehow she still managed to win nine major fellowships to a tune of probably $3/4 million, money which would have been better spent on a wide array of other projects which were actually expanding our knowledge base. The Euroskeptic contingent also bitched about the fact she was arrogant enough to read the sonnets herself on the accompanying CD-rom. I don't buy the argument that they must be read by a man even if historically it's probably accurate (re: the circulation of MS culture between a coeterie of male aristocrats, sprezaturra, and all that). Still, her book on Keats' Odes remains essential reading for romanticists everywhere.

I won't be able to attend tomorrow's session as I prepare for another 119 Edgewood blowout, but here's the schedule:

Lukas Erne (University of Neuchatel, Switzerland)
"Biography and Criticism: The Modern Reception of the Early Modern Author"

Karen Britland (Keele University, England)
"'Music to all eyes'": the spectacle of Harmony in Tempe Restored"

Lunch for six speakers with Strode graduate students

Ewan Fernie (Royal Holloway University of London, England)
"Shakespeare and Agency"

A 45-minute panel on "The Future of Renaissance Drama Studies" featuring all six speakers

Fernie is an especially interesting and challenging oppositional thinker in the best British tradition. His first book was about Shame in Shakespeare.

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