A few thoughts about this year’s MLA convention. For those of you unfamiliar with it, “MLA” stands for “Modern Language Association,” the largest professional organization devoted to the study of literatures in modern languages in North America (probably the largest in the western hemisphere). It’s the main national organization for professors of English in the US and Canada and is the origin of “MLA Style,” a documentation style you may (should) have been taught in high school or college. I was fortunate enough to be presenting a paper in a special session that I organized this year, so I have a series of thanks yous to issue, all of which are related to the conference.
I would like to thank both of my cars for breaking down the day before I had planned to drive to the conference. I am sincere in this. You will see why.
I would like to thank Monro Auto Repair in Powell, OH for replacing my starter so quickly.
I would like to think my wife’s car for having a seatbelt that didn’t work, requiring her to use my car, so requiring me to rent a car.
I would like to thank Enterprise Rental for renting me this car for the same price as a standard midsize:
I would like to think the 16 year old boy at the McDonald’s drive-through for handing me a large coffee and then telling me I had a cool car. I am finally able to hang with the crowd of 16 year olds with cool cars, though I may be thirty years or so late.
I would like to thank the state of Indiana for teaching me what it must have been like to live in a world without snowplows. I truly empathize with everyone and anyone who lived in the nineteenth century, or who lives in Indiana today.
I would like to thank my roommate CW for not complaining about my snoring.
I would like to thank SRT for being there… in so many ways.
I would like to thank Buddy Guy for being Buddy Guy:
I would like to thank each and every person who left Petterino’s for the show. Thank you for leaving. You were all very loud and annoying.
I would like to thank Kat for giving me a copy of the latest OXNRT CD.
I would like to thank Jonathan Mulrooney for the coolest introduction to a conference paper that I have ever heard. I can’t find the actual image with the poem at present, but the introductory poem was written by her.
I would like to thank every panelist I heard for presenting engaging, interesting, informed papers (only one weak one in the bunch, but she had PowerPoint issues). I particularly enjoyed the Romantic Psychologies panel, and thank you to JF for organizing it, and to RS for bringing some sense to his subject.
I would like to thank my NEH compatriots for being there and being compatriots.
Did I mention that black Ford Mustang?
I would like to thank Sullivan’s for existing.
I would like to thank the Byron society for having a meeting for Byronists at “Club Foot.”
I would like to thank the Keats/Shelley society for their cash bar. Next year, a little more bar, a little less cash.
And I would like to thank what seemed like 200 Byronistas for showing up at that tiny little dive (Club Foot). Seriously tiny. One pool table tiny.
I would like to thank every panelist that I heard for not being pretentious, self-serving, egotistical, or otherwise fitting any of the obvious negative stereotypes about college professors and scholars. You were all a great pleasure.
I want to thank them for being that way because they were truly absorbed in their subjects.
I would like to thank Brian for shedding a bit of light on Object Oriented Ontology and for wearing a plum colored blazer.
I would like to thank that overly self-conscious yuppie postmodern “Japanese fusion” restaurant for its very good Miso soup. I would sit on a bare concrete floor and listen to sitar music for that soup.
I would like to thank Sheila Spector for joining me in this panel and for presenting her material on Blake with such clarity and simplicity that I wondered why anyone would ever be confused by Blake’s writing.
Until the next time that I read Blake.
I would like to thank Joe Fletcher for joining us in this panel and delivering an absolutely fantastic paper.
I would like to thank those of you who recommended Joe and others to join Sheila and I in the panel.
I would like to thank Rebecca Schuman for her rage about the state of the profession and bad institutional responses to it. Whatever you think about her recent blogs, they have drawn attention to the subject and (re)started necessary conversations.
I would like to thank Bob San, the sushi karaoke bar for not having karaoke when we visited, and also for having good sushi.
I would like to thank CF for a wonderfully long lunch and trip to Target. Two trips.
I would like to thank the SelfPark parking garage for the 37 signs that said “PLEASE TAKE YOUR TICKET WITH YOU,” none of which I read.
I would like to thank the city of Boston in advance for forgiving me for accusing it of being an expensive city. This happened back in October when I was in Boston for the NASSR conference. Now that I’ve been to Chicago, I realize I had no idea what an expensive city was. I am sorry, city of Boston. Very sorry.
I would just like to thank the city of Boston, now that I’m thinking about it. I would move there tomorrow if I could.
I would like to thank the sixth floor of the Marriott hotel for teaching me what it must be like to be a character in the film Being John Malkovich, or a student at Hogwart’s, or a traveler to an alternative dimension. You just can’t get there from here.
I would like to thank the Marriott in general for not allowing rocks in its conference halls. When a scrawny little MLA functionary came in to a Romanticism divisional meeting to take attendance, I wanted to throw a rock at him.
Deep in my heart, I am still throwing that rock.
I would like to thank the twelve people who attended my 8:30 a.m. Sunday panel. Each and every one of you. Personally. And for being engaged and for responding.
I would like to thank Chicago for being so beautiful, though. And for warming up. A bit.
I would like to thank my wife for being home when I came back. And for not killing me when I woke her up at 2 a.m. Especially since she said, explicitly, when I last spoke with her, “Don’t wake me up.”
I would like to thank that crinkly plastic bag for waking up my wife. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
I would like to thank my children for not murdering one another in my absence.
And I would like to thank Enterprise Rental car once again. One last time.