Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Congress diary part three

Last day ... and I finally delivered my paper. Presenting on your last day at a conference is only a blessing if you're still writing your paper when the conference begins -- and this year I had mine done well in advance (well, I wrote my conclusion last night, but that was all of two sentences). So it was nice to finally make an end, there.

And it went well, I am pleased to say. It was one of those nice conference happenstances where one of the people on my panel withdrew at the last minute, only leaving two of us to present. Given that my paper was pushing the twenty-minute mark and I was prepared to omit my last page and a half (including my hastily scrawled conclusion) if I was running long, it was nice to not have to worry about that and just take my time -- and to have the freedom to make jokes and extemporize.

So for the curious, I presented a paper on the HBO series Rome .... and as per what I was focusing on, I might as well quote my opening preamble:

To frame this paper, and where it comes from: I have become a massive fan of HBO's programming. Beyond my own mere enjoyment however, I believe that it poses a series of questions for the always ongoing mass culture debate insofar as it represents what not long ago would have seemed an oxymoronic concept: intelligent mainstream television, television whose production values--especially in terms of the writing--is of startling quality, and which challenges (or at the very least complicates) a strictly Adornian conception of the culture industry.

I would suggest that this new wave of intelligent, well-written and well-made television poses interesting and important critical questions for film and media studies, and cultural studies more generally, which can in one way be summed up in the question I have posed students in my popular culture classes: Can television be art? And if so, how does that change our perception of art? My consideration of Rome today emerges from an ongoing engagement with such questions: I am seeking to read in the series a subtle counternarrative to the generic conventions of the "historical epic" and the received history of the Caesarian narrative. And to that end, I will be looking at that apotheosis of low cultural expression--graffiti.

Yup, my paper was all about graffiti -- Roman graffiti that is, some of which in the series is really quite filthy and obscene (to which end, I now have the distinction of having used the phrases "giant ejaculating penis" and "Atia fucks everybody" at the Canadian Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences -- truly, I have arrived).

Anyway ... I'm happy to be done, pleased with the reception my paper received, and relieved that I can now truly relax for the remainder of my time here. I will post pictures when I'm back in St. John's ...


Swain said...

But did the paper include discussions of the proper conjugation of the phrase "Romani Ite Domum" or Romans, Go Home.

summer pervez said...

now that sounds like an interesting paper! makes me wish i hadn't skipped congress this year. any chance i might be able to read it?

halibutt said...

Hic multas puellas futui