Tuesday, November 27, 2007

On Presenting the Work

Well, well. Huh. I wonder how that went.

Over the past two days, I presented some of my work in progress at Fellowship Institute, thus fulfilling one of the major conditions of my fellowship, and getting it out of the way early. I gave a 45-minute presentation on Monday, followed by 45 minutes of discussion.... then came back Tuesday at lunch for a one-hour follow-up discussion (smaller group). The audience was about 20 on the first day, 15 on the second. I structured the presentation so the first part was all brand-new stuff (all that theory/methodology), the second part was some very technical stuff specific to my subfield, and the third part was meant to be some nice concrete examples to bring it all home.

Except that I ran out of time (I always forget to plan for my digressions), and had to skip the third part, which really tied things together. Ooops.

So, the first day's discussion was rough. It focused mainly on the methodology section, which was fine, but people did challenge me on a couple of points. By this morning, I was able to process the comments and understand how they could help, and cut myself some slack, since this is really, truly brand-new work. But that's today: yesterday, I have to admit going home feeling a bit dumb.

Second day's went a lot better: I started off by telling one of my documents' stories, and once people had something to sink their teeth into, the discussion was lively and fun.

Better yet: several of the tenured faculty approached me afterwards and suggested that we have lunch, presumably to talk more. Which means that there's some interest there. Which is good.

Best of all: right after the presentation, several of the fellows (junior-ish faculty and one advanced ABD) went out to lunch together and had a nice time -- it was good to be able to take a deep breath and relax a bit with some very nice people.

I honestly have no objective idea how the presentation went. Nobody threw anything, which is good. But I did get some good feedback on a brand-new section, and the fact that some people were hotly debating some of my assertions in the new bit is a sign, I think, that I'm on an interesting track here, even if I'm still stumbling around a bit.

Post-presentation week agenda: clean up my desk at the office, set things up to begin yet another round of revisions on The Article ((shudder)); go to the library and check out The Count of Monte Cristo for a bit of fun weekend reading. (Remember "fun reading"?)


Belle said...

Are you kidding? You had 15 people in there! I've had 1/3 and 1/5 that at conferences! So it went really well. Especially in that you got feedback and questions and conversations and... I'm soooo jealous.

One of the things I miss most about having a real job is that there are very few opportunities here to discuss my work with peers. And when I go to conferences, there're always agendas and egos, and nobody seems to want to listen. They want to be listened to!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Belle --

It is nice having a big group like that. I'm the only medievalist in my home department, and one of only two people working in the period before 1800. This, in a department of 40-plus. But even more problematic than that is that, in a teaching-intensive school, most of the time we're all so consumed with lecturing and grading that we never stop to talk about what our colleagues are working on. It's a pity.