Tuesday, 1 February 2011

"Let thy speech be better than silence, or be silent"

I got back from my first conference in Dublin on Sunday evening. The conference itself was held in the really beautiful Clinton Institute for American Studies at UCD, Ireland. I really enjoyed meeting so many interesting people (including another Plath fan!) and the papers presented ranged from looking at IRA Activity in the USA in the 1930s to an analysis of the work of Jonathan Safran Foer in relation to post 9/11 literature. It was very exciting.

Now, to my paper... It really did not go as well as I had wanted. It's so strange - I spent a lot of time ensuring it was within the amount of time allocated and to my mind, it worked perfectly. However, things did not work out that way on the day and I was told I had five minutes left when I was on page 7 of 13! So you can imagine my complete horror. In my panicked state, I decided to skip out a lot of the conclusion which pretty much stopped the paper getting tied up in the way I wanted it to. I was very diasppointed in myself because I worked hard on the paper and I did conclude with some interesting parallels between Plath's split-self and the splitting of selves in the USA. I'm going to edit it a bit and hopefully submit it to a Journal so all the hard work does not go to waste. I will upload the paper itself for any interested readers in a few days - I just can't bear to look at it right now!

Public speaking is a vital part of pursuing a PhD. Not even in terms of conferences, but in lecturing and attending administrative meetings, even - it's really important to have a confidence when speaking. I have a good background in public speaking really, which makes my poor execution of the paper all the more frustrating. In my school days, I entered a lot of public speaking competitions and local feis (Irish cultural festival type-thing) competitions; but I guess in my defence it has been a long time since I've had to speak in a room full of highly-educated people who were all so nice, yet intimidating! I guess maybe a quick shot of whiskey could be a way around the nerves: to be honest if I had done that, I would've had more confidence to just say my full paper and not worry about running over time!;)

My next conference presentation will be in April - it will be arguably more intimidating because my old alma mater is hosting the event but I really do think I will learn from my mistakes and hopefully present a better paper next time. Fingers crossed!

Aside from the conference, I spent the weekend in Dublin and attended my friend Laura's birthday night out. To be honest I was quite upset with myself over how the paper had gone but going out and spending time with friends was the only sure way to get over my disappointment. Dublin is a great city to go out in, we had a great night.

I'm the second from left in this group picture:) I think that is is so important to make sure you keep your friends when studying for something as specific as a PhD. It can be very easy to just lose yourself in reading. It takes that extra bit of effort to go out and socialise, but it's so important to do it. In a way, it refreshes the mind as well! I know I would probably still be cut up about my paper if I hadn't gone out and had a laugh with my girl-friends:)

On the Sunday I was delighted to meet up with my dear friend Claire Hennessy for lunch and a chat. Claire is an established writer in her own right, creative writing lecturer and postgraduate student at Trinity College Dublin. Aside from being amazed at her multi-tasking abilities, she recommended me some great Irish poetry, namely Leanne O'Sullivan, a young poet from Cork. I have a lot of frustrations with female poets in Ireland (particularly Northern Ireland), but Leanne O'Sullivan - although I have not yet read very much by her - is someone who lacks pretension and has a lot of interesting and different themes in her work. Definitely worth a read if you are interested in poetry:)

After such a busy weekend, I took yesterday off but today I'm back at work. My library request for Tracy Brain's 'The Other Sylvia Plath' has come in and I am very excited to read! I will hopefully do a review on this book in the near future as I think Tracy Brain is one of the most progressive thinkers on Plath at this moment in time: a must-read for the Plath enthuasiast!


"this fashion lark." said...

Your blog is amazing! What you're doing sounds so so interesting x

Anonymous said...

Don't get down about a conference paper! These things need practice and it is better to potentially run over in a panel than in front of a room of undergraduates.

If I'm writing for speech I tend to aim for 3/4 of the time allotted. That allows for enough spare time to look up and breathe.

Rosh said...

It's never a bad experience if you learn something from it... isn't that what they say? Anyway, your paper was great and very well written... you'll nail it next time! besitos

laura said...

your next paper will go much better, maeve, everyone has these experiences (i know i have! it's so hard to get the timing right). it was such a fun weekend, i'm so glad you were there for my birthday! :)

Anonymous said...

Next paper will be fabulous! :) It was so so so lovely getting to hang out with you again - must do it again once this term finishes for me and I have time to wander out of Dublin!