Greetings from Munich!
It’s been an eventful two and a half weeks! I spent a wonderful week as a participant at a Professionalization Workshop in Venice, organized by Dino Felluga and a joint venture of NAVSA/BAVS/AVSA (the North American, British, and Australasian Victorian Societies). The workshop was held on a little island called San Servolo, about a ten minute vaporetto ride away from Venice. We dedicated a day each to conferences, grants, and publications, and we had a perfect combination of listening to lectures from guest speakers, asking questions, and practicing the principles we learned. Our activities involved workshopping our own conference proposals, writing part of a sample grant proposal, and looking at the introductory paragraphs for multiple publications so we could get a sense for the different styles each journal has. The final two days of the workshop included a crash course on the job market: we learned about the differences between the American, Canadian, UK, Australasian, and continental European job market, and we also learned more about what makes a good cover letter, writing sample, cv, and teaching statement. We were also given tons of examples of each type of document, so I have no lack of models as I draft my own materials for the market in September. We also heard about alt-ac job options, the role digital humanities will play in changing the field, and the differences between liberal arts colleges and larger research universities.
In addition to new information, we also gained new acquaintances: there were 39 of us in the workshop from the US, Canada, UK, Australasia, and continental Europe, and after a week of eating together, chatting about our fears of the job market, and being roommates (we were three to a room), we got to know each other well and to become not just colleagues, but friends. We also got to know many professors more closely, both because we were paired with a faculty mentor for the workshop and conference (mine was Catherine Robson) and because we spent time chatting with them during coffee and lunch breaks and as we waited for the vaporetto to arrive. These connections helped make the ensuing conference even more enjoyable.
After the workshop, the supernumerary conference began. Feel free to check out the twitter hashtag #glocal19 to follow the conversation from home. Although I’ve been to many conferences (and organized one myself), this was by far the best conference I’ve ever attended. The papers, which were well-written and well-presented, formed coherent and thought-provoking panels, and the Q&A sessions for each were especially informative and spilled over into excellent discussions long after the sessions ended. The conference included additional, non-traditional activities as well: there were “first-come, first-serve,” works-in-progress, and material culture seminars. I sat in on an excellent “first-come, first-serve” seminar, run by Marjorie Stone and Beverly Taylor on the “The Risorgimento, 19th-Century Movements, and the Transnation” where presenters submitted a 5-page position paper in advance and participants would spend an hour discussing them. I also attended a material culture seminar by Cornelia Pearsall on Robert Browning’s “A Toccata of Galuppi’s,” which was especially a treat because I had presented on the same poem the previous day and was therefore able to hear and respond to multiple new perspectives on a work with which I was very familiar. I also participated in Pamela Gilbert’s works-in-progress seminar, for which we were all given a chapter of her new book project in advance, and we asked her questions about the scope of the project and particular elements of her argument. It was especially illuminating for my own work, as a section of the chapter I’m currently revising addresses a topic she discussed. Throughout the conference, everyone was friendly, generous with their time, and genuinely interested in talking with junior scholars about their work. It was a truly lovely time, and I think all the participants will miss Venice as well as the friends, conversations, and experiences we associate with it.
As I write this, I’m currently on a train to Vienna, where I will be for a week, seeing the manifold musical sites as I continue working on Augments Notes, on Songs of the Victorians, and on revising my chapter and my job market documents. After Vienna, I’ll be at Cardiff to present on Caroline Norton’s “Juanita” with the help of Songs of the Victorians. I’m looking forward to presenting my ideas to an audience composed predominantly of musicologists.