“Only a small branch of the MLA.”

In Sina's Posts on November 18, 2011 by SN

My colleague Jay Lutz invited me to join the annual conference of SAMLA, the South Atlantic Modern Languages Association. SAMLA 2011 took place from 4-6 November 2011 at the Loew’s Hotel in Midtown ATL. Jay is the Executive Committee Member of SAMLA which is the “smaller” regional chapter of the Modern Language Association. This is the reason why there were “only” about 1,200 conference attendees at this Southern conference. Compare that to the annual conference of German American Studies with about 300-400 attendees and you get the idea.

The Venue: Loew's Luxury Hotel, Midtown.

The conference kicked off with different “Professional Development Seminar Panels”. I attended the panel on academic careers in English where professors from four universities explained the difference between small privately owned schools and larger state schools in terms of workload and career prospectives, the tenure process as well as post-Doc possibilities for international scholars. I really learned a lot about the current issues in academia and the universities’ hiring practices. Attending this panel assured me that my I am on the right path if I want to have a possible job in academia. I also liked the pragmatic attitude of the speakers. Instead of being desperate about the financial situation of some schools, they rather gave advise on what you have to do to become a successful professor.

The “content” panels were all very intersting. I joined panels on a variety of themes according to my individual taste: on “Studies in the Life of Truman Capote”, “James Agee: New Directions”, “The City at Night in German Literature”, “The Rhetoric of Rap”, and a few sessions on representations of the South and Southerners in literature and film.

SAMLA 2011: The Power of Poetry in the Modern World

I enjoyed the generally positive and constructive climate of the conference. The panels were usually very small, ranging from me as the only attendee among three presenters to about 15 audience members. The small size allowed for focused discussions. I did not feel any rivalries between different scholars or meta-conflicts that disregarded the presentations. One possible reason for this nicer conference climate are the costs. Attending this conference is quite expensive starting from the registration all the way to the luxury hotel accommodation.

It was really easy to meet the different scholars, conference guests, and publishers. For instance, I shared my thoughts about finishing up my dissertation with a PhD student from Tel Aviv, had lunch with a filmmaker from New York City, chatted with a Dickinson specialist from North Carolina, and introduced myself to a representative of McFarland, a possible publisher of my dissertation. I even ran out of business cards by the end of the conference.

All in all I must say that I enjoyed the conference a lot. I noted a few differences to conferences I have been to in Germany. One of the biggest differences is the attitude towards “newbies” who were applauded during the Presidential Luncheon. I have never felt more welcome at a new association.


One Response to ““Only a small branch of the MLA.””

  1. […] first encountered Yelawolf at the SAMLA conference where I heard an inspiring presentation by Erich Nunn on the ways in which he subverts the image of […]

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