Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Academia engages in misleading advertising, too

To date, my work has been on the less obviously sexy side of a currently sexy topic (CST). Some might even argue that my interests are even a little dry, especially compared to the blood and fireworks of CST. To give you an illustration, suppose I work on fifteenth-century er0tica, but ignore the er0tica itself and instead talk about the watermarks of the paper upon which it's printed. I'm interested in where the paper came from, who was selling it, why it ended up covered in this particular subject matter, and so forth. Interesting stuff, to be sure--but not what most people would immediately be drawn to, given sexiness and whatnot that first catches the eye.

So tonight I'm giving my first big lecture, here at Field. It is, in fact, the first time--apart from a couple of job talks--when I will receive Solo Billing at an academic event. I'm a little nervous, mostly about the Q&A. See, it's a lecture for the general public: the faculty (none of whom works on anything even close to my research), students (half a dozen might show up), and, especially, the community. People from Field Town, Ordinary City, and even Nominally Ordinary City show up in droves for these events, for some reason. (Well, small droves. Little, scattered droves of the elderly, the curious, and the strange.)

And I'm worried because, given the nature of the lecture, and what I, in a crass effort to make it sound exciting, chose to call it, the posters all look something like this:

Fifteenth-Century Er0tica!!!!!
and the paper it's printed on.

So I fully expect to get lots of questions about (to continue the analogy), turn-ons, positions, anatomical details, etc., when all I really feel qualified to say is, "But look--this is a French manuscript written on German paper!!!"

Wish me luck.


Phul Devi said...

I did one of these once. It turned out to be a pleasant evening. But, in an unexpected twist, a few days later I received an email from someone in attendance who was a professional motivational speaker in corporate settings. He wanted to explain to me how to deliver my lecture in a more, well, motivational and corporate way. Not exactly my goal, even for a general-public lecture!

Good Enough Woman said...

Good luck!

heu mihi said...


And sq, that's just...weird. Motivational? Exactly what were you supposed to be motivating them to *do*?

Phul Devi said...

That was my response exactly! It's not like medieval history really HAS motivational dimensions. Perhaps he thought I needed to whip up more excitement or something, be more entertaining. But yeah, it was strange.

the rebel lettriste said...

He wanted to give Sq. advice on speaking "motivationally"?

That was like a bad date I went on, which ended with my being told that I was "difficult" to talk to. (I think because I wasn't interested in talking about a.) sports, b.) managerial work life, c.) "white trash", and d.) how black people were just tacky.) I did point out that I talk, and listen, for a living. If it's interesting, we academics listen.

But I digress.

Heu, you will rock the house.

Sisyphus said...

Whoo-hoo! Watermarks! Sexayyy! Workit, girl!!!!!!

Unknown said...

Good luck!
Btw, you're starting to sound like an art historian. At the moment, my life is consumed by watermarks and the correct identification of paper. Maybe you're seceretly a rare books librarian?

heu mihi said...

It must be your secret influence, Hope!

Unknown said...

Ha! No seceret influence here... I think it's just your natural interest in the materiality of the works you study. And your crafty side too - bookbinding anyone?

heu mihi said...

Oh yeah. That.

heu mihi said...

That last comment looks appallingly terse! I didn't mean it that way. Maybe this would have been better:

Oh yeah! There's *that*, of course. Wasn't even thinking in that direction.