Saturday, October 20, 2007

Presentation.. OVAH!

And it went relatively well, the discussant and several members of the audience were English Lit instructors from Korean colleges. That gave me a moment of fear, but they seemed to like what I had done and one suggested that looking at KYI's reception in Korea might find similar critical responses as those here.. perhaps even stronger. It was obvious the moment she suggested it and I look forward to following it up.

Another presenter on my panel did a hilarious and sometimes sad presentation on the state of modern Thai literature in the world - basically trapped behind social and governmental disinterest (at best) and the lack of translators.

The great panel was the one before mine (ours) where two women talked about Japanese bodily representations of Koreans during the occupation period. One traced the career of a Japanese gynecologist who was attempting to prove that Korean women were husband-murdering freaks. His methodology was suspect at best - one of his classics was to diagnose husband murderers as frigid or too-easily sexually excitable. Perhaps. But to classify some of the women as both? This paper also included a drawing of a Korean woman with a prolapsed uterus that will put me off sex for a year.

The second paper traced Japanese responses to Koreans before and after a 1923 earthquake. It would have been funny if it wasn't sad. The government created a false taxonomy (kind of like the famous "know your Jap" poster the US did during WWII) which did pretty much nothing but create confusion (partly because it was internally inconsistent) and result in the murder of people of all races, including some Japanese.

In both cases the Japanese were stuck in the "colonized our own folks" problem. Like the British and the Irish, I suppose.

Then, I had to race back to the hotel.. because..

The walk to the conference also began with one step, but it was a faltering one. I walked from the hotel, just over a mile and once I got there I switched from tennis shoes to work shoes and went in search of something to eat. Found an enormously chatty wrap-maker and was all the way up to the cashier when I realized I had left my wallet at the hotel. Awkward, but the nice people let me have it anyway.

The walk was when it sort of hit me that I was in a different place. Airports, taxis and hotels are all pretty similar, though the Chesire is a different kind of hotel. How different? Because I was at the hotel everything in the bar and grill was half-priced. I had three beers and a pizza for just under $13. That’s a bargain and if I hadn’t been tired, I’d have done more damage to the alcohol.

Architecturally this part of the town seems like a mix between Indiana and Lousiana. Lots of big stone houses on plantation like grounds. I’m right by some kind of park and walked by what must be the ‘rich church ghetto’. Six enormous churches (from Vedic to Christian Science) on lush grassy grounds. All of stone, of course. At some point on the walk I could see the famous arch, and the park has a zoo that is supposed to be one of the US’s best and is also free. That might take up some of tomorrow and will certainly make me wish I’d brought my long lens.

Many of the conference attendees seem to be Asian.

Which is my “duh!” moment for the day.

My discussant and chair were both great and I need to email them tomorrow with my thanks.

Now I think I need to take some pictures of the hotel, which is kind of odd. ;-)

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