I had a couple of days off work at the end of last week to go to a conference in Germany. Now, obviously, in The Current Situation, when I say I went to a conference in Germany what I mean is that the CONFERENCE was in Germany, but I myself was sat with a laptop in my flat. It was a shame not to go to Actual Germany, especially as it was in Tuebingen where I had such a great time back in 2018, but at least I avoided the enormous travel delays I had then - no amount of wind or snow was going to stop me moving between my desk and the kettle!
The main theme of the conference was AGENCY which, as everyone (who has spent three days listening to other people talk about it and has looked it up 17 times before they actually remember) knows, is the ability to effect CHANGE. For instance, talks on Fan Agency were about the power that comics fans have to make comics publishers change things like storylines or the series they produce. There was a LOT of interesting stuff in there, and I especially enjoyed a KEYNOTE by Henry Jenkins about... well, STUFF. He was talking about STUFF being the objects we choose to have around us, and how this works with comics, both in terms of collecting and the comics we hold onto or display, and WITHIN comics themselves, where objects are placed in the panel to illustrate something about the characters.
My own presentation was on the Saturday morning, and was about neither STUFF nor Agency. It was, as ever, about DOCTOR DOOM, and came as part of an "Open Forum" where people talked about their research in general. I did a SOMEWHAT DENSE twenty minutes about my PhD research so far, including SAMPLING and the SURVEY what I did, and even some of the early results. I was a bit nervous beforehand as the meeting was full of MEGA-BRAINS who really KNOW about this sort of thing, but it all went really well - there were LOADS of comments in the chat, lots of questions at the end, and I even managed to ANSWER most of them. I was particularly proud of myself because when I DIDN'T know the answer I managed to say sensible things like "I don't know" or "That is a good point" rather than floundering around making stuff up. As we know from The Current Situation and Our Useless Government, it is very easy to do this the wrong way round!
I came out of the whole experience full of RELIEF, and though I did miss the bit afterwards where you wander round the coffee area hoping somebody will say "That was really interesting", I was extremely glad that I didn't have to have a bus ride, a two hour wait in an airport, a plane journey, another wait by a conveyor belt and then a lengthy tube journey before I could get to our fridge at home and open a beer afterwards!