Thursday, September 22, 2011

Off to FEAST

I'm leaving in an hour for the first of many fun weekend getaways this fall. This time I'm driving up to a resort on Lake Michigan north of Chicago to attend the every-other-year-conference of the association for Feminist Ethics And Social Theory: FEAST.

This is the first time I've ever gone to a conference where I wasn't presenting on the program. It had never even occurred to me to go to a conference if I wasn't giving a paper there. But part of the faculty culture at DePauw seems to be that it's perfectly okay to go to a conference just to - gasp - learn something new, something to bring back to the university in order to enrich our teaching, or to contribute to the quality of our shared intellectual life. The point of going to a conference doesn't have to be another line on our c.v.

Now, this isn't to say that I'm not wishing that I had thought of submitting a paper months ago when the call for papers went forth. I love giving talks and papers and value the critical feedback I receive. I wouldn't have a career at all if it weren't for forcing myself to give talks and papers at this kind of conference, gather the comments from the audience, head home to expand and revise, and then publish the paper somewhere. But this time I didn't get around to it. I was busy getting around to lots of other things instead, which were more urgent and important at the time.

So I'm going anyway. Just to learn. I'm taking my yellow DePauw University notebook that I bought at the college bookstore upon arriving to campus. I'll go to talks, take good notes in my notebook, see lots of University of Colorado friends, and return home with some new ideas bouncing around in my brain. Maybe an idea for a presentation at some future conference or a published paper. Maybe ideas to help me do a better job teaching my Feminism and the Family course here in the spring. Maybe just ideas to make me more intellectually alive right in this moment. Not all ideas have to be stored up for some future purpose, right? Sometimes we're permitted to learn, and think, and grow simply for its own sake, for the sake of the feast - FEAST - itself.

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