I just got back from the British Women Writer’s Conference in Columbus, Ohio, and I thought I’d take a second in the lull before the storm as the semester winds down to post about it.
I have long intended to go to this conference, but this was the first year I made it. There are a few things that are truly great about it:
- It is completely organized by graduate students, which I didn’t know before. This tradition stems from the conference’s beginnings as a grass roots newsletter about women writers sent around by graduate students almost twenty years ago. Amazing.
- They are on the cutting edge—people were tweeting from the conference. I’m barely blogging so this was too much for me at this point, but very cool nonetheless.
- Columbus is also really cool. This was my first visit to the Mid-west, and although I was very concerned for my vegetarian friend on our first night eating out (all the salads had meat on them!), on the second night we found the hip section of town, the Short North, and had delicious Buddha bowls with peanut sauce in a place that reminded me of Ithaca, NY only more modern than the 70s hippie vibe there.
- As you might guess, there were all sorts of papers on obscure texts that would be hard-pressed to find a home at another conference, I think. I loved everyone’s openness to hearing about texts from Margaret Oliphant’s Life of Edward Irving to Augusta Webster’s Daffodil and the Croaxaxicians, and wondered with the advance of digital texts how many people might be downloading these books onto e-readers as we speak.
- All the keynotes were great, but as someone working in disability studies, I was especially excited to hear Helen Deutsch’s talk on “Truth and Beauty: Women, Disability and Literary Form,” in which (at the risk of oversimplifying) she argued that poetry, far from transcending bodily experience, often reflects embodied experience.
There will be a special issue of Prose Studies devoted to proceedings from the conference, so even those of you who missed out will have a chance to her more.