The past two weekends have been especially busy, as I’ve attended and presented at two conferences. The first was ‘That They May Be One’: The Past, Present, and Future of Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue”, hosted by Saint Louis University and the St. Irenaeus Orthodox Theological Institute. Though I am neither Orthodox or Catholic (yet, as my colleagues like to remind me), I really enjoyed this conference, especially keynote speaker Fr. John Daley of Notre Dame. I had the opportunity to present a paper titled “Blogging Ecumenically: The Present and Future of Online Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue” based on my experiences as managing editor at Conciliar Post. I’ve been running this paper as a series here the past couple of weeks, but I’ve also posted the full version of the paper to my Academia.edu profile. (You can also comment below if you’d like me to send you the paper.)
This past weekend, friend and colleague Ben Winter and I drove out to Philadelphia to attend the Patristics, Medieval, and Renaissance Conferences, hosted by Villanova University. Despite the long drive, the PMR was also extremely rewarding, with two full days of presentations and plenary addresses by Lewis Ayers (Durham, UK) and Vittario Montemaggi (Notre Dame). Though a bit out of my area of direct expertise, the paper I gave, “Saint Patrick’s Scriptures: The Scriptural World of Medieval Ireland”, was well received and I got some excellent suggestions on where to take the project next. For those interested, I’ve also uploaded this paper to my Academia.edu page. As those of you looking at the paper will note, this project is the first part of a wider consideration of Patrick’s scriptures, a “side project” that I hope to present on again (and in more technical detail) this coming year.
For me, conferences are often a good deal of work in preparation and greater deal of energy exertion at the actual meeting, but are well worth the effort. Not only do academic conferences allow you to hear the best and the brightest minds present their often cutting edge research, but they are a great opportunity for networking as well. Finally, if you have the opportunity to present, the feedback can be tremendously helpful. I often worry that the arguments I put forth only make sense to me (i.e., that they are seriously flawed in some obvious way to which I am the only one oblivious), so presenting my work at a conference serves as a good indicator of how acceptable and meaningful my work is among other scholars. Now that my fall conference schedule is complete, I’m turning my attention to spring meetings, where I hope to attend and/or present at several more ventures.
What about you: what conferences are your favorite? Do you find conference presentations informative? Helpful for your own work?