Time for the new academic year to get going. Behind us, as I took this shot, the latest clump of aspirants, our objects of care for this year — the new students. Ivy tries to outline the scale of it all to colleague Mark. I think we’re ready for the whistle.
Welcome to the era of the ‘hybrid’ academic conference, run by hassled people in rooms trying to get the technology to work properly. If we could just stand up and talk it would be a lot more reliable. Still ,Marije — and the other members of the KBSI2022 team — did their best, and it has been worth coming over to the Netherlands, rather than sitting at home and doing all of this crap.
During this week at the London Rare Books School I have felt privileged to be taught by Professor Michelle Brown, second from the left here. What an awesome fund of knowledge she has, seemingly knowing absolutely everything that happened to everyone before about 1500 AD. Like being taught physics by Richard Fenynman, and the sort of experience that you just ain’t gonna get through Zoom, sorry.
The Beyer Building‘s exterior has featured before. It was constructed in 1887, meaning this lecture theatre basically reflects assumptions about pedagogy from 135 years ago. And it looks pretty much the same as lecture theatres still do, only with many fewer plug sockets. Alex awaits my talk at 9:30; there were a few other people in the room by the time I started (honestly).
The Railway Inn is undeniably close to a main road. But we don’t let it spoil our enjoyment of the outdoor seating; one of Hebden Bridge’s best suntraps. Like the rest of us, Lynn was enjoying it this afternoon.
Golly, an academic conference. Face-to-face, with real people — the first one for me since Bucharest in January 2020. And plenty of evidence as to what we’ve been missing in the travesties that are the ‘virtual conference’ (of which I have only managed to do one, and that briefly, basically because I liked the people that organised it and didn’t want to let them down). Discussion, spontaneity, conversations in the lunch queue, empathy. To the neo-liberal interests, tech giants and health fascists who say we can all do it online now — I say, get stuffed.
June 2022 will mark 25 years since I graduated from the University of Leeds, at least for the first time, with my BA (Development Studies with Politics, in case you were wondering). There are now very few people from that time still present in my life on any kind of regular basis, and even they haven’t been seen enough lately, for many reasons, not just the one that is obvious (though it does matter). Doug is one of the few, unseen at all since August 2020 and, on the blog, March 2019 (with this pic, that shows he hasn’t changed much). Great to see him today, though. As we say each time it happens, we should do this kind of thing more often — but will we? That’s up to us, isn’t it.