Reporting from the Rochester Graduate Conference, part 2

We’re well into the afternoon now, and things are still going along at the quality rate as in the morning.  Scott Sandage’s talk was absolutely wonderful, I really do think so–and that’s the reaction of everyone in the room.  We had a short break for lunch, which was tasty and copious (nice for a change).  The afternoon began with great papers by Jeff on Lasch, and Alexandra Gilbert on American Exceptionalism; it was good to have a literary studies paper, as we’re going to have to keep trying to be more interdisciplinary every year.

We’re now into the “institutional” session, led by Jessica Neptune’s analysis of incarceration as a tool of  social correction.  Very interesting analysis of the failure of the liberal approach to the issue of crime and its punishment. Very well done…

And now we’re on to Paul Zwirecki’s presentation on religious enthusiasm and insanity in upstate New York in the mid-nineteenth century.  Starting off very promising…

I do think that this year’s conference is all-around better than last year’s–which I would hope to be the case, last year having all the problems that first-time events will have!!  But it makes quite a difference having a much larger staff, all of whom work well with each other, and seem to adapt and improvise very well. Not that we weren’t that way last year (in fact several of the people are the same), but there’s a huge difference in having an official Graduate Society and several more people on board. Makes for more sleep and more efficiency.

On the whole, a bigger professional transformation from when I arrived at Rochester six years ago I cannot think of.