I am currently at the MLA Convention in Boston. MLA is always a fun time; it’s a total geek-fest. While the various sessions are interesting, people watching is my favorite convention activity (aside from browsing at the book fair, of course). I love that eighty percent of the attendees–including myself–are dressed in black, I love the multitude of nerdy glasses, I love the vibe of slight social awkwardness that people exude, I love the covert badge-checking that goes on, I love the diverse range of ages represented, I love playing a guessing game with myself about why each person is at the conference–presenter? interviewee? observer?

One trend I’ve noticed this year which was not nearly as pronounced when I attended two years ago (or, indeed, even when I went to Rocky Mountain MLA three months ago) is that many people read their papers directly from their laptops rather than from a paper copy. This possibility would never occur to me. I am just that old school.

I’ll write more in the next day or so once I get a chance to visit the book fair, which does not open until tomorrow.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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