Saturday, November 29, 2008

SBL Boston: Final Thoughts

I am away from home at the moment, enjoying the sights of Washington DC, so I have been away from the net most of the time and not able to post these assorted reflections until now.

(1) I didn't notice the divorce from AAR as much as I expected to. The TOTE bags looked different from usual (and they had run out before I got a chance to get mine on Sunday, which was annoying); the programmes were thinner; I didn't run into as many current or past colleagues from Religion and Theology departments, and there were fewer conference people around in general. Our hotel, the Boston Marriott Copley Place, was hosting a Bridge tournament and one was more likely to run into a bridge player than a Biblical scholar in the elevators. But on the whole, it felt like business as usual, just slimmed down a bit. I suspect that the AAR people would have felt the split more than we did given that they were meeting earlier. We had the same travel home on Tuesday, arriving to the Thanksgiving break.

(2) The organization of the conference was, as usual, excellent. I have nothing to complain about at all. Oh, except the lack of TOTE bags.

(3) The location was excellent. Although I got horribly lost on the Saturday on the way to the Cross, Resurrection and Diversity Consultation, it was easy enough to find places after a while, and there were plenty of people around to provide directions.

(4) But it was really freezing cold. Why on earth did I not take a proper thick coat? Have I got so used to North Carolina temperatures that I am forgetting what bitter cold is like?

(5) If you were willing to brave the cold, there were lots of great restaurants. I ate at three different Thai restaurants on three successive occasions, Saturday evening, Sunday lunchtime and Sunday evening and all were excellent.

(6) I didn't get a chance to go to the Book Exhibit this year so can't comment on that, but I heard good things about it. I wonder if I am the only person at the SBL who didn't darken the door of the Book Exhibit? Normally, I quite like walking round the book exhibit, though I find it a little depressing seeing so many new books out, especially when I don't have one of my own.

(7) I feel much less inclined to go on my usual rant about the presentation of papers this year. The ones I heard were, on the whole, excellent, with no examples of speed reading, few examples of bad timing and few examples of inaudible or incomprehensible reading.

(8) The sessions I attended were also very well chaired, which is also a plus.

(9) The academic highlights for me were at the new Cross, Resurrection and Diversity Consultation. I think this is going to be a fascinating section at the SBL and I am looking forward to future sections. I am pleased to have been invited to be a part of it and delighted to see that there is such interest in the group.

(10) The non-academic highlights were twofold, our visit to the Cheers bar on Friday evening, fulfilling an ambition of many years, with the souvenir pint glass to remember it by, and the traditional visit to the Bond film on the Monday evening, as enjoyable for the company as for the occasion.


James F. McGrath said...

I'm glad to hear that most presenters you listened to followed your advice in their presentations!

Anonymous said...

I had to stop and think for a moment when I read, "I got horribly lost on the Saturday on the way to the Cross". That ended the line on my RSS reader. Seemed quite out of context!

David said...

No, you were not alone . . I also did not visit the Book Exhibition. In one way to my sorrow, although I did come back a little better off as a result. And as you know, carrying books on a flight is not easy. Maybe Amazon will benefit instead!
PS did you visit the 'original' od the 'replica' Cheers bar??

Mark Goodacre said...

Good to hear I wasn't alone, David. We visited the "original". We had intended to go to the replica too but it was really cold on the Friday night and we were having a nice time in the original. But not having visited the other one gives me a chance to look forward to that next time.