I first started giving presentations at professional conferences nearly ten years ago.
Back then, I only submitted abstracts for things I’d already written, such as seminar papers. In more recent years, I’ve transformed 40+ page dissertation chapters into talks of various lengths for various contexts.
Last year I summarized the highs (and lows) of the annual joint meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) and the Society for Classical Studies (SCS). I figured, why not do it again?
I don’t think anyone would be surprised to find out that this year’s meeting did not proceed without incident.
Most egregious, I think, was when it was brought to everyone’s attention that the title of one paper was both inappropriate and wholly unprofessional in its exposure and trivializing of a student’s mental health issues. The matter was seemingly quickly resolved, with a change in the paper’s title and an apology issued by the presenter.
I think the issue raises three larger problems, however:
Why would anyone think that such an approach would be appropriate?
How the heck did a paper with such a title and premise get accepted in the first place?
When will our relationships with our students be such that making light of serious issues in conference papers and on social media becomes far less commonplace?
I’m not going to go into any of these points, but they’re just things that have been on my mind since it blew up on Twitter.
Instead, this post will focus more on the highlights of the conference for me. It will also include a list of sessions that I wish I’d had the time or energy to attend while the conference was happening.
Honestly, I don’t know what’s more exhausting: physically running between rooms in a conference hall or the mental effort it takes to shift from Zoom session to Zoom session. Right now, I’m sensing it’s the latter.
You may sense a theme in the talks and sessions that I managed to make it to (and even some of the ones I’m planning to watch later). Sorry not sorry.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had technical difficulties while giving a presentation.
How about if you’ve ever been given the five-minute warning from a session presider? Or if you’ve ever been asked a question in the Q&A that you didn’t have the answer to?
The unfortunate reality is that the possibilities for things to go wrong during a conference presentation are endless. I’m sure any seasoned veteran can confirm that they’ve experienced at least one or two over the years. I’ve been there, too. You know what we all have in common?
We got through it. And you will too. Your chances of getting through it are exponentially better if you do the following seven things.
The 2021 Joint Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America and the Society for Classical Studies occurred virtually from January 5 to January 10, 2021. For six days I sat on my couch and attended far more paper sessions, workshops, and networking events than I can count on one hand. This was my second time attending AIA-SCS (my first in Toronto, 2017), and I have a few thoughts.