Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Other Renaissance (MLA Day 1)

I went to three panels today--two on Milton and one entitled (rather unpromisingly, I thought) "Did the English Renaissance Have Sex?"

At the two Milton panels I recognized lots of faces--probably 1/3 of the attendees at the one panel and 2/3 of the people at the other. At Renaissance Sex, however, there were a good 50-60 attendees but among them I recognized NO ONE. It was as if they'd been imported from an entirely different subfield: so young! So female! And so not MLA. There was the woman with major tatoos on both arms. A woman in a sari. Another woman with flaming red hair. And two women sitting right in front of me who were done up in what I can only identify as queer rockabilly: the one had blue-black hair in an Elvis coif, a red and white gingham halter top, and rhinestone earrings. The other had a similar but more spiky 'do in snowy platinum.

I'm pleased to know that the field is broader than my own little corner of it might suggest (and I'm definitely pleased that its members are more varied), but it's really strange to think that we inhabit such entirely different worlds even within the same subfield.

(However, I don't think it's our different world-inhabiting that caused me to stare in pain at the ceiling throughout one entire paper, praying that God would kill me immediately, or at least levitate me out of the room. It was about fag hags in Shakespeare's Coriolanus. And yes, you're right that there ARE no fag hags--whether called by that name or any other--in Coriolanus, and the author freely admitted as much. And yet, somehow, s/he still made a paper out of the topic. [On the other hand, the paper on intercrural sex was really good.])

GWB and I also crashed two open-bar receptions this evening, and I got a last-minute freebie invite to a really fun Society dinner as well. And tomorrow? One panel and oh-so-many blogger meet-ups. Fortune cookies never lie!


Margo, darling said...

Thanks for the update, Flavia. Hungrily waiting for more and wishing I was there to soak up the scene and dish. My ex is a Renaissance person--works on sex, in fact (femalefemale homoeroticism)--and has tatoos on her arms. (Though I doubt she'd show them). Wonder if she was on the panel?(She wouldn't have given that Coriolanus paper, no way.) Surely she was in the audience.

Horace said...

Heh, I saw one of the queer rockabillies yesterday too. It's a wicked look...

See you there!

~profgrrrrl~ said...

I'm fascinated by all of these MLA stories. One year I want to go, just for people-watching. (I think I have MLA envy --> our big conference simply doesn't seem to compare)

Flavia said...

Margo: I think the tatoo woman was a grad student--seemed very young--although I bet you're right that your ex, if at MLA, was there in that room. Small world!

Horace: So you saw them, too? I totally loved the look, although I suspect that they, too, were grad students and will probably get boring and suit-y when their time comes.

And Profgrrrl: it's something, all right. Most of the attendees are pretty frumpy and boring, like academics everywhere, but there are enough weirdos to make it fun.