Wordle: My MLA paper

(My MLA paper–well, my MLA paper two drafts ag0–as envisioned by http://www.wordle.net. Click to enlarge if you don’t mind spoilers.)

It’s MLA Eve, of course!

…wait a minute, what most wonderful time of the year did you *think* I was talking about?

Anyway. In the past two days, I’ve been to Chicago and back again–quite a feat, considering the weather there and here this morning and the whole “hey, why don’t I light my pants on fire right before the flight lands? Al-Qaeda, yeah!” ridiculousness. And after my whirlwind of blissfully unironic family hangouts (baby! dogs! Uncle Ron’s bourbon slushies! did I mention a *baby*??), it’s time to unpack and repack and head to Philadelphia in the morning for four days of geeking out over hotel-priced cocktails and all the other joys that MLA brings.

I have to admit that I really like MLA. This will probably be my last year to say that, since next year I pretty much absolutely have to be on the job market and that’s going to change things substantially–after this year, the experience is going to be a lot less fluffy and innocent. But for now, I’m looking forward to it. This will be my third time going, first time giving a paper. I didn’t go to San Francisco last year, lacking even the slightest justification for spending the money. And I found that I missed it–not when I was sledding in Wisconsin with my family on December 28–but later in the spring semester, where I found myself uninspired and losing sight of why I was doing what I was doing in the first place. And, in a hugely dorky way, I’ve been fortunate enough to find MLA (or at least the two MLAs before this one) to be energizing and inspiring. I come home weighed down with books and ideas, I have notes that I can refer to, and I’m reminded that there really are people out there who are reading and thinking and doing cool stuff. And I kind of need that right now for all kinds of reasons.

Whether I’ll get it of course remains to be seen. But, since this is my last pre-job market MLA and since we need to get this blog back into gear for 2010, I’ve suggested to Mia that we attempt a kind of liveblogging of the convention over the next several days. So check this space for talk postmortems and notes — and who knows what else.

(We are also both, incidentally, on Twitter. I’m @annecmccarthy and she’s @mini_mia.)

First up — my own paper! I’ll be presenting some version of the above Wordle during the very first panel session tomorrow (Sunday 12/27) at 3:30 pm. The panel is “Literary Form and the Social: Victorian Poetry” and my paper is of course on Browning. Should be a good time, despite the inexplicable time conflict with the Tennyson bicentennial panel that will force me to miss a talk by one of my heroes, Matthew Rowlinson. Clearly, the MLA assumes that the audience for Victorian poetry is so vast that there is no room in the Philadelphia Marriott that can hold us all at once and so they have wisely forced us to choose between panels at a time. I have a feeling that 25 copies of my handout may have been optimistic.

For now, however, it’s time for me to get off the computer and pack in earnest. Am trying to make the 10:14 train out of Penn Station. My appreciation for New Jersey Transit is running high as I pack all kinds of crazy stuff in my baggage like liquids over three ounces and plan on arriving at the station fifteen minutes rather than two hours before my train.

See you tomorrow, MLA!