I know it’s been awhile, Long Nineteenth Century Blog. It’s not that I didn’t want to come visit and tell you everything I was doing in the world of Romantic/Victorian geekery, it’s just, well, you know. Things got busy. Did you know I’ve written *two* dissertation chapters since we last talked? And I don’t really have internet access at my house, and then I was on the market and it was just…well, you know. Life got so complicated. I mean, you know how it is, right? It’s not you, Long 19th Century Blog, it’s me.

So, it’s been about ten months since my last post. And, yes, I have written two chapters, gone on the market (unsuccessfully in the traditional sense, but I’m glad I did it, I still like MLA, and it didn’t crush me in the way it’s “supposed to”), rethought a lot of the project, started thinking a lot about religion, gave a long format talk on Browning at the CUNY Victorian seminar, strategized, theorized, historicized (well, not *too* much), and made some new friends. In a certain sense, I think I’ve started to get a better sense not just of the field but of myself in the field, feeling part of a community on a level I didn’t before. (Or you just hang around for seven years and eventually people start talking to you.) I guess I’d say that I’ve also started enjoying myself again.

So, for now at least, here I am. The future of the Poem of the Week remains uncertain, but I do plan to start posting here every now and then. (Yes, I know we’ve heard this before, etc.) And spring conferences are a good place to start, right?

Over the weekend, I was in Columbus at the very wonderful British Women Writers Conference, where I was talking about Christina Rossetti’s The Prince’s Progress — that is, the long narrative poem she wrote that isn’t Goblin Market. It was a truly lovely conference, and you can relive much of the magic via Twitter,* thoughts that include reflections on my first time as a legitimate member of the “backchannel” in any meaningful way. (Funny to think that a couple of years ago, we were all excited about liveblogging — who knew at the time that would end up seeming so 2009?) There are also several conferences I’m looking forward to in the coming weeks — NVSA is coming up on the 15th, there’s the Politics of Form grad conference at Columbia on the 22nd, and of course, the CUNY Victorian conference on May 6. Good times, and I’m hoping to tweet my way through at least some of these, depending on where I and my iPod can wrangle some free wi-fi access. (I tweet as @annecmccarthy, though not exclusively or even predominantly about matters of the Long 19th Century.)

It was my first time at the BWWC, and I applied mostly because of a special session on poetic form. In the end, I didn’t make it on that panel, but I did give the paper as part of a session on Christina Rossetti (where, oddly enough, I was the only women — my copanelists and the moderator were male, which is something of a feat given the overall demographics of the conference). What I didn’t realize until I got to Columbus was that the single-author panel was a relatively rare beast at this conference (or, in keeping with the theme of the weekend, a curiosity). Most of the other sessions had individual papers from all over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with a surprising number of genres being represented as well. In some ways, that made it hard for me to choose which panels to attend (I’m sometimes a bit of a poetry snob), but I ended up appreciating the chance to leave my own period and genre comfort zones and actually, well, learn things. (Not that I don’t learn things in my normal conferencegoing experience, of course, but still…)

Along those same lines, I was really impressed by the generic range of the keynotes. The plenary panel on the first night with Caroline Levine, Sandra Macpherson, and Robyn Warhol was heavily pitched towards the novel (which, admittedly, I groused about at the time), but the second night had Sharon Marcus talking to us about Sarah Bernhard, and Helen Deutsch’s keynote on Saturday dealt rather dazzlingly with eighteenth-century poetry. All of which was quite wonderful. And I enjoyed the opportunity to talk with people both in and adjacent to “my” field, especially since I’m starting to reconceptualize my place in all of this, and to really try to worry this Romantic/Victorian divide as both an intellectual necessity and a professional strategy.** In fact, it was actually quite wonderful to be at a conference where it didn’t seem crazy to explain what I was doing, to talk about my plans for a fifth (!) chapter of the dissertation, and so on. I also had more than one conversation about religion, though that’s been one of the strangely predominant themes of the semester, and of the later work I’ve done for the diss. It’s a topic that, most likely, will deserve its own post or series thereof — there’s a lot I want to work out, and I haven’t yet decided what forum is going to work best for it.

Nevertheless, yay. Yay for the BWWC and for the upcoming conferences (where I don’t have to present anything).

And yay, of course, for at least a temporary return to blogging — still, apparently, in 1,000-word chunks.

*Yep, I was the person who met Tim Gunn at the airport.

**I don’t mean the second one in a cynical sense, by the way. Professional strategy is important and not necessarily soulless — this is one of the lessons I’ve had to internalize in these long unblogged months.