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Reflections on MLA ’06

I haven’t yet had a chance to write an account of the “Postirony in Theory and Fiction” special session I co-organized for MLA ’06. Since I know you’re all very busy people, I’ll be brief: the special session was very successful.

The papers, all of which had very different takes on postirony, were quite interesting. Given the last-minute reshuffling of the structure of the panel, we seemed surprisingly as if we had been planning things this way all along. Kevin unfortunately didn’t have enough time to go through the entirety of his response, but his response was illuminating. Something like 20-25 people were in the audience–a nice number of people for the first day of the conference. Among our audience members was Linda Hutcheon, who seemed like a very gracious and an extremely nice person.

Most of all the panel got me excited about my dissertation again. Not that I had lost my enthusiasm for all things postironic (heaven forbid!) but reading and writing is lonely work. Being in a room with people who’ve pretty much read the same books as you and care about the same issues was inspiring.

I’m also excited because while filling out my fellowship applications I finally hit upon what I think will be the book-level argument of my dissertation. That is, I now have a story to tell myself about my Big Claims which will hopefully plug in to the chapters and subsections that I write. The whole and the parts may in fact have something like a relationship. Before I had a topic; now I also have an argument about that topic.