Landing

By Kate Thomas

I’m typing this (one finger, on my phone, frustratingly slow) from BALTIC kitchen – the cafe in the spectacular venue for #Undisciplining. I arrived in Newcastle (from Sheffield) 2 hours ago. The late afternoon sunlight is gilding the extravagant curve of Sage Gateshead and the railway bridge over the Tyne is stark against an unexpectedly blue sky.

So much for the externals! Mark (inexplicably blogging from a cat cafe yesterday!) wrote of the #Undisciplining organisers’ hope that this event would open ‘up a space in which we can imagine how academic life might be different’. In one small way, this has already occurred.

I enjoy conferences. I find them fascinating, as much because of their tensions, traditions and inequalities as for the intellectual stimulation (occasional at worst) and social engagement, the sense of a tribe, a common passion, a shared commitment. I see them as games which those with the most power can play without realising.

This conference is different (for me) because it has given me the opportunity to reinvent myself as an academic. I bring with me not a USB with a Powerpoint presentation as per usual, but 4 printed A2 panels, a graphic essay entitled My Brilliant Career? They came with me in 4 boxes, awkward to carry on the train! I’ve set the panels up on easels in the Cube, essentially a white box, to be on display throughout the conference. The artwork makes me accountable, visible throughout the whole of these 3 days, not for 20 mins plus 10 mins for questions. As an academic who loves writing, loves words- I feel liberated. No less serious, no less academic. But somehow reinvented.

Come and have a look while you’re here.

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