Saturday, March 5, 2011

CCTE at Tarleton

Yesterday, rather than carrying on with our usual daily activities at work, we took time out to attend the Conference of College Teachers of English (CCTE), which was being hosted by Tarleton this year. Since no travel was involved, we trekked across campus to the Business building for the day's festivities -- which they were kind enough to re-schedule their classes to accommodate. Though the conference actually ran from Thursday night to Saturday afternoon, but I only took the time to attend yesterday's sessions for two reasons: I don't really have time to attend the others and the sessions that were of the most direct interest to me were on Friday.

It was an absolutely beautiful day. The sun was shining from behind a hazy cover of whispy clouds. It wasn't hot, but not cold, either.  I sat for a while, at the end of the conference, in the quad area in front of the business building and enjoyed the day while I waited for Matt to come pick me up. It was perfect. I could probably have sat there forever, in the shade, looking up through the naked branches at the muted sunshine, watching the conference-goers milling back and forth on their ways to their hotels, home, or to the refreshments mixer.  It was so temperate and lovely, I feel a bit bad for the people attending today's sessions as it's freezing today, rain pouring in fits and spurts from the gray-clad sky... wow, that sounded so melodramatic, didn't it?  My apologies.

Anyway, this isn't the first conference I've had the chance to attend as I went to the writing center conference in the fall and will go again when it comes around next month (especially since our school is hosting that one too, though it's in Granbury, not Stephenville), but it's the first conference of it's size I've gone to.  The writing center conference is small by comparison; one session, one day. The CCTE had something like 6 sessions and each session had three or four concurrent sessions. That's a lot of speakers, so I had to make a schedule and decide which sessions to attend in each time slot, and I think, overall, I made the right decisions. If I could do it again, the only thing I'd do differently is attend a different panel at the 9am hour -- I went to a panel over pedagogy, rather than the new professionals panel, and wish I'd not.  Even still, the speakers were excellent and I enjoyed hearing their papers.

My favorite papers of the day were given about Milton's "Paradise Lost" and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper."  The first paper, "The Twins of Paradise: Milton's Sin and Eve," was given by my gal pal/co-woker/co-cohort (is that a word, co-cohort?) Marsha Decker and it was beyond interesting. The paralells she drew between the figures of Sin and Eve were really fascinating -- I never felt so much sympathy for Sin.  The second paper, "'Reviewing' Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 'The Yellow Wallpaper' beyond Feminism" by Mina L.S. Thompson was also incredibly interesting. She discussed teaching and understanding "The Yellow Wallpaper" in contexts other than the obvious feminist reading. Some of the methods she came up with, and the connections she was able to draw between Perkins Gilman and the story, were so keen. She gave me, and Marsha, a copy of the slides from her power point presentation, so if I ever teach it I'll be prepared!

After the conference sessions, some of the members of the English department attended a dinner at Pastafina in honor of Dr. Randall Popken, to whom our program is owning much. He passed away the first year I was attending Tarleton, so I never had the opportunity to take his classes, but he was incredibly influential in the formation of our writing programs; a man well ahead of his time, he ensured that our programs are, likewise, well ahead of their time. It was nice to get together with everyone, though I knew relatively few of them. A lot of the previous graduate assistants came back for the dinner, as they were attending the conference, so the camaraderie is something that went a bit over my head, but we managed okay and had a nice dinner. My bosses were there and it was nice to see everyone outside the office.

We skipped on the drinking afterwards because I hate bars and because Matt doesn't drink at all anyway.  The cramped, loud spaces inside bars set off my anxiety; I'm such social dud.  Instead, we went to Hastings to find a few books I need for my thesis, which they didn't end up having, but we got a movie instead, which we promptly went home and popped into the Blu-Ray player.  I spent the night pretending I didn't ahve anything else to do. I also got some cute little buttons, which is actually accumulating more stuff than I need and will likely just end up in a drawer, but I couldn't resist them. I ended up buying the three books I need from Amazon. I still need to get a few more books and some DVD's -- love that that stuff is for research (sorry, can't say what stuff exactly). What I can say is that I am so pleased with my thesis topic!

Speaking of which, now that I've thoroughly procrastinated I need to run and work on thesis proposal. Have a lovely Saturday!