The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 6th, 2015
It’s fun to mock academic conferences. They are quite mockable,
because academics are nerds. At our best, because we all know that we
are nerds, we work hard but don’t take ourselves or our rituals too
And yet I was concerned when Christy Wampole, an assistant professor of French and Italian at Princeton, asked, in a widely shared essay in The New York Times,
“What is the purpose of the conference?” Her purpose was to call for
better behavior, promoting a manifesto of best practices (and they are
good practices, over all). But I took the question seriously.
For professors from small colleges (like me) or geographically
isolated institutions, as well as graduate students and adjuncts, one
purpose of the conference is that it allows us to be scholars.