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Back into the fold


Yes, I’ve been a bad, bad blogger I’m afraid, with no update in over two weeks… Mea culpa! The trip to Brazil took a bit more out of me than I realised, and I ended up coming down with a cold which laid me low for about a week. Conferences are really hard work; being cooped up in a room with a bunch of people for three days straight, not enough sleep, not enough rest, lots of talking and thinking, so it wasn’t a surprise that when I got on the plane to fly back to the UK, my nose started running and my throat was killing. I went through an entire roll of tissue paper during the flight and wasn’t able to get any sleep. I’m sure that when Rebecca picked me up at Heathrow that I looked like death warmed up. Anyway, I seem to be on the mend now, and with the semester more or less finished now, I’m looking forward to the summer break so I can get on with my writing.

Ok, I suppose I should update on the rest of the conference, especially since the trip there was so torturous.

Positives

  • The two keynotes I saw (Mary Bucholtz and Kira Hall) were really interesting. Kira’s was on the limp wrist gesture (LWG) in American culture, and she charted the spread of the gesture from the earliest Hollywood silent movies all the way through to contemporary comedy shows. While there wasn’t much in the way of language,the discussion of how it became embedded as a ‘gay’ gesture was brilliant (link with ‘weak’ masculinity, ‘primitive’ humanity and so on). Mary’s keynote was on reaffirming the feminist foundations of language, gender and sexuality studies, going through the major feminist movements and relating them back to the kinds of theoretical orientations each movement has.
  • Meeting new people: since I don’t really go to language and gender conferences, it was good to meet folk I would otherwise not have a chance to meet. It was also great hearing about the kinds of things people were working on, and the range of work was impressive.
  • Caipirinhas – enough said.
  • Getting some exposure on my work and the new Mock the Week research. The panel I was part of (organised by Tommaso Milani) was really well received and it was great to meet some people working on ‘tough’ masculinities.
  • Probably one of the best opening ceremonies of any conference I’ve ever been to ever. Great music from local school kids and I think they probably could have carried on for another hour or two.

Negatives

  • It was a reallllllly long way to go, nearly 30 hours each way. This wasn’t as bad as some people’s journey who took about two days to get to Brazil, but still…
  • The conference venue – the people we met were really nice and my hotel was in a good location, but it just wasn’t a good city to walk around in. Every time we wanted to go anywhere, we had to get a taxi or bus. Even in Porto Alegre (see photos), it still felt a bit sketchy. This could be my spoilt Western perspective on things and the fact I don’t speak Portuguese, but still, I really didn’t fancy walking around either Sao Leopoldo or Porto Alegre at night.
  • Not enough discussion during question time at papers – I occasionally got the sense that there wasn’t much engagement with some of the papers I saw, most likely a by-product of the fact that everyone was absolutely shattered by the travel.

So yeah, as usual, some good, some bad, but an interesting experience nonetheless. Next conference up is at Berlin for the 19th Sociolinguistics Symposium, a behemoth of a conference with something like 20 parallel sessions and usually about 1000 delegates. I’ll be presenting a paper on the masculinities work I’ve been doing, and hopefully my paper will be before the conference dinner (and now I’ve said that, any money I’ll be on after it…).

Here’s some pictures of Brazil!

The Social Linguist

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