24 December 2008

Brief Reflections on the Recent AJS Conference

Having attended yesterday's sessions and Monday's sessions at this year's Association for Jewish Studies conference, I thought I would follow up with some further reflections. Firstly, the Grand Hyatt, DC had great facilities and, as you can see from their photos, is quite a nice place.
Not surprisingly, my two favorite sessions were on the Talmud: "The Bavli and Its History" and "Rabbinic Terms and Their History" (the latter of which I think I enjoyed more). Granted, I mainly went for, and certainly enjoyed, the papers/sessions on Talmudic/Rabbinic stuff, but I also got some benefit out of having attended sessions not "in my field", so to speak. Also, whether "in my field" or not, I certainly realized I know hardly anything compared to all of these scholars. It was also great to experience the collegiality going on. Granted, when there was schmoozing time, I generally mingled with peers, rather than professors, but I also got the opportunity to talk with top scholars in a laid-back atmosphere. Furthermore, there were times, such as at the Talmudic sessions where someone would be presenting and sitting in the room were various top scholars and it was fascinating to hear some of the discussions going on.
Also, there really isn't much else out there on the blogosphere as of yet, although Izgad posted some thoughts and some quotes from a session he attended. A comment of his (from his earlier posting) resonates very much with me: "It has been wonderful on many different levels for someone with my interests. I cannot think of many of places where I can accidentally run into people whom I know based on having read and admired their books." So true. I would say it was very good not only being able to put faces to names, but also to talk to people and to network, whether about future research interests or to find out about literature out there already.
Additionally, Inside Higher Ed wrote up an article about one of the panel discussions on Monday. I hope to go beyond my brief descriptions in my two previous posts of some of the papers presented to highlight them, although I need to first see if I can get an electronic copy of them.... (Stay tuned...)


Baruch said...

Seems we weren't in any of the same sessions.

I was a gingy from Touro College South wearing white shirt, black pants, black jacket, and a black-and-blue srugi.

This was my first AJS Conference. What was most fascinating to me about the Conference was...well, let me explain. You could be in a room, and somebody could be giving a paper. He could quote various different scholars on the subject matter, and perhaps take sharp issue with them. And those scholars could all be in the room.

Drew_Kaplan said...

I think I may've seen you around at the conference. There definitely weren't so many graduate students around.
Yeah, I definitely agree with you about the scholars disagreeing with each other in the same room. It was definitely good stuff.