Tuesday, November 10, 2009

AAR, Montreal 2009

Saturday morning, first session: other than the general enjoyableness of hearing Dr. Sarah Coakley be her incisive witty awesome self, and some really genuine intellectual exchange in the best sort of collaborative spirit, I loved that my AAR started with a session that displayed some really interesting gender dynamics...the chair of the sponsoring group for the session had both her young son and her spouse with her, and the little boy's presence was (for me) all positive--not at all disruptive to the proceedings at hand, and I loved it that "real life" was also visibly present in what is so often a surreal cerebral "warp" world in which all that supposedly disappears through the magic of social convention. And then, one of the first questioners to approach the front to use the mic was a gorgeous, very visibly pregnant woman, a fact which could not be missed but, again--like the presence of the little boy--did not at all detract from the intellectual exchanges. Awesome. Unfortunately, those things were counterbalanced by the way in which a later questioner, old and male and very WASPy, ignored the etiquette protocols we had been implicitly constructing, and strode decisively to the mic without looking around to see if anyone else was approaching and without asking for or waiting for recognition from the panel--the body language was clear: he owned the right to take it when he wanted it, and "permission" from anyone, even the authoritative panel, was superfluous. Shudder.

The Job Center is dead to me. The message board is an instrument of psychological torture. And it's even worse to call in and ask if there's a message; the answer is no, and please, don't add that you're sorry. That just sucks.

But a couple of really fun incidents: I attended the session on transhumanism that I presented at last year. Stephen Garner was presenting again, and I was looking forward to that because I am now quite familiar with his work, having devoted a whole section of the dissertation to summarizing and critiquing his theological engagement of the posthuman. And I knew enough from just the title of his presentation that the question I would need to ask at the session was [a paraphrase in retrospect], "while I love your phrase 'the hopeful posthuman' and agree wholeheartedly that cyborg hybridity is the hopeful bit, I disagree that the cyborg should be classified as part of transhumanist discourse but constitutes its own very different feminist discourse...can you respond to that?" And he replied [again paraphrasing in retrospect], "yes, that's a good question...that reminds me, wasn't there a panelist last year, a woman named Jennifer Something..." Whereupon I said, "yep, that would be me. Hi!" And everyone chuckled. It's a riot to get referenced to yourself, I have to say.

And--of course!--my business cards, a la' Virgil O. Stamps Letterpress (a.k.a. Sarah Coffman), were a hit with everyone. But I was totally unprepared for this response, as I handed my card to a friend/potential future employing-type networker: "You are the hottest woman I've ever seen." Whereupon I said, nonplussed, "um. Yeah, they're great cards, aren't they!?" (Wish I'd thought to say, "yes, I'm really smart too," cueing from my sis Ally's habit of supplementing all compliments of my niece's admitted beauty with "and you're smart and funny too.") Thank you, Virgil. I have no job offers, but apparently my biz cards have exponentially increased my hotness factor.

And I loved having three days of Jen Bayne all to myself. Awesomeness. And seeing Rick and Anna. :)

And of course, as with any roadtrip, I had to spill coffee on myself at some point. But never before have I spilled a boiling hot full cup of just purchased Dunkin Donuts coffee in its entirety in my lap. All of it. Did I say boiling hot? I had to shuck down to my skivvies in order to stop the agony. Thank God Jen is completely unflappable and also someone comfortable enough with embodiment in both philosophical and pragmatic dimensions that she didn't even freak out when I realized halfway through taking off my short that I'd skipped on wearing a bra that morning...and after all that, I had no coffee to drink. (Talk about insult on top of literal injury!)

That's it, glad to be home. Missed Clare, missed Brent, and found it hard to be absolutely incommunicado for three days, and not thrilled about getting back on the road (in other direction) in a couple days, but definitely looking forward to TN...

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Glad you got to go to AAR. We are just back from SBL. Do not fear on the job front; something will turn up. It is a horrible year for postings in general.

What does your card look like? We need a visual!

--Mary Lou

Stephen G said...

I was nice to see you again too, Jennifer. Even if I didn't recognise you at the back of the room asking your question :-)

All the best for the job hunt. Are you looking outside of the US too?

JTB said...

No worries, I didn't expect recognition. :) Am really glad I caught your presentation, though, and for the record, I *do* really love the phrase "hopeful posthuman."

Looking forward to adding your blog to my reading list!

and to answer your question--am open to considering just about anything, anywhere...there's an interesting listing for University of Macau, actually...