Thursday, Heathrow Airport, 15.34: Checked out of Lincoln College this morning, after a nice breakfast which featured two slices of British back bacon. Last time I will get any of that until August. I was disappointed to have to miss the last couple of sessions, the first of which featured Christoph Heil on Reconstructing Q, Stephen Patterson on Thomas and Eric Eve on the Synoptic Problem without Q. Heil's paper was not online before the conference, so it was a particular shame to miss his. Eve's was so full of good sense that I doubt I would have had any comments of my own to throw in. Patterson's was one of the papers I would have particularly liked to have discussed -- the subject is one of great interest to me in my current research. There was also a plenary scheduled for people to reflect on future directions. But I was already on the coach to Heathrow, listening to the Russell Brand podcast and reading the latest Doctor Who Magazine. I met up with the family, who had come down from Peterborough, and we are about to fly. There is no wireless here, so I will upload this post when I get back to Raleigh. It will be pretty late because we are flying into DC and driving down from there.
This conference has been excellent. It was very well organized and ran very smoothly; congratulations to Andrew Gregory, Paul Foster, John Kloppenborg and Joseph Verheyden for a job very well done. The catering at Lincoln College was excellent, and the location ideal -- bang in the centre of Oxford (and right next to my old college). In spite of the number of papers, the programme did not feel crammed, and I appreciated the free time on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, and the free time again after 9pm or so. The number present, forty or so, was about right to ensure good discussion after each paper and set of papers. Any more, and it would have become unwieldy. By the end of the conference, one had the feeling of having got to know almost everyone.
Each session worked very well, with a general theme and three or so presentations followed by discussion. The only one that did not quite work, in my opinion, was the session that paired David Peabody with Kathleen Corley -- these were such very different papers that the discussion was less focused than it was for the other sessions where things were more naturally related.
The academic quality of the papers and the discussion was very high. I have to admit that I was initially a bit sceptical about the decision not to invite "position papers", or to have individuals arguing in favour of given theories, but it turned out that this was a brilliant decision. The encouragement to all presenters to be as balanced and fair as possible, and the invitations to read papers on specific themes, led to pretty helpful discussions with a marked lack of polemic; there was more light than heat, to use the cliché.
All in all, an excellent conference and a very enjoyable few days away. Congratulations to all involved!
[Actual time of upload, Friday, 15.25, back in Raleigh, North Carolina.]