Sunday, 26 March 2017

It's all Narrative




Day 3: International Conference on Narrative 2017

I have been fortunate enough to have had a paper accepted for the annual Narrative Conference, this year held in Lexington, Kentucky. Taking place over most of this past week as well as this weekend, the panel discussions, plenary talks, dinners, presentations and Q&As have so far been, no pun intended, epic! 

For the past few years I have looked forward to the time when I could attend one of the Narrative conferences, and being here exceeds my expectations. Perhaps it is due to the setting: balmy weather, a hotel lobby filled with mosaic horses and waterfalls, a town with bourbon flowing and great southern food; or perhaps it is due to the people attending: an enormous gathering of seasoned professors, graduate students in their early days, independent researchers, and those in the middle, like myself, with a PhD nearly or just in the bag. All I know is that this, hopefully the first of many Narrative conferences, has radically shifted / updated / augmented my view on community, on what it means to be in a supportive academic collective made up of people from around the world, and on what it means to, in the words of Gerald Prince ‘come home to the tribe’. 

Over the past 6 years I have felt drawn and ever more drawn to the theory and the context that is the study of narrative. With my subject matter firmly in poetry, these two realms have often made uncomfortable or at least uncommon bedfellows in both creative writing and English literature. But in my research, I have found a gelling of these two strands, and the more I deepen my work the more they merge and find a flow of conversation. The more I begin to find the area of writing that really fits with my approach and interests.

I write this on the eve of giving my paper, and I have no idea how it will go or what type of questions the audience might ask (if an audience even turns up at 8:45 on a Sunday morning)! But however it goes, the experience of this conference as a whole has provided me with a glimpse of what a future in academia could look like as a member of this tribe, and I have the texture of this place and these people to thank for that.

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