One week until #ASECS16 in Pittsburgh, PA! (program here)

This post is a hand guide for the annual ASECS conference. First time ASECSers will find some helpful info here, and so too might the veteran conference attendee.

Tip #1

Finish your paper before you get there.

In every blog, or article, or advice column ever written about conference-going, this is always #1. For good reason.

It’s hard to write in an awkward corner of a hotel room. You’ll miss out on early panels and events. You’ll be stressed. You’ll be scrambling to figure out the hotel’s printing availability.

Write it, print it, practice it, revise it, practice it again. Print it. And bring it.

Tip #2

Presenting your paper.

This little gem has regularly gone around Twitter at MLA. I think it is a universal conference reminder:

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 8.48.21 AM

If you’re unfamiliar, the expected time for a paper on a regular panel is 15-20min, depending on the number of people presenting; 8-10min for a round-table participant.

And it’s always nice to aim on the short side. Jack Lynch gives this explanation:

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 8.50.12 AM

Tip #3

Meet People.

Ula Klein’s post over on Eighteenth Century Notes and Petticoats which we featured as a great blog for the Eighteenth Century Enthusiast has a great breakdown on how to have a successful ASECS that focuses on people. The people you meet at ASECS will be great collaborators, supporters, research helpers, shoulders to cry on, co-authors, friends, and more. Klein talks about how to be a friend not a fan, when to appropriately bring up research with others, and more.

Devoney Looser has an excellent piece in The Chronicle for Higher Education on “Why I Love Academic Conferences(or here). Her advice about having a professional interchange is spot on:

Have ready a brief, accessible self-description. Be prepared to share the professional stage that you’re at and what are you working on, doing so without hesitation, apologies, or self-deprecation. Your description needs to be declarative, enthusiastic, and to the point. “I’m (first and last name). I’m A.B.D. in (discipline) at (institution). I work on X area, specifically on Y, looking at Z, which matters because (argument).” Then wait for a follow-up question or ask a question of your listener. If this is especially hard for you, then practice it in front of a mirror or with a friend, but please don’t deliver it like a robot.

Grad Caucus Lunch is Friday April 1 1:00-2:30pm

Other grad students are a gold mine of info: which scholars will buy you a free drink, which ones will leave you with the bill at the end of dinner, which ones will give you feedback on your work, which ones will dance in hotel disco.

They also have amazing advisers. I was introduced to a scholar whose work I admired after meeting her advisees at the Grad Caucus Luncheon. We danced at the Masquerade Ball (circa ASECS 2014) together.

Tip #4

Find a Mentor, Gather Advice

Listen to others. Get advice and info from other scholars. You can go to:

The Doctor Is “In” (Thurs-Saturday)

  • A help desk to provide mentoring, answer questions, and more! A rotating group of scholars will be waiting to give you advice. Come with questions!

Women’s Caucus, and Lesbian & Gay Caucus

  • Two incredibly inclusive groups (of many), open to all.

Rethinking the Academic Conference round-table (Saturday April 2, 9:45-11:15am)

  • Featuring Laura Miller’s on “Removing Barriers to Junior Scholars at ASECS”

Tip #5

Eat. Gather.

Go to social activities. Go out to dinner with new friends. With old friends. With advisers. Don’t have dinner plans? Ask someone to join their dinner trip—almost everyone is just heading out for some much needed socializing and decmpressing after a day of attending panels.

Daniel O’Quinn gave this advice that I think is *excellent* (and not at all shallow, and important when you’re on a grad student budget).

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 9.14.20 AM

Tip #6

See the town

You’re in a new city. And how often do you really get to travel on your grad student budget? So take a break from the panels and step out to enjoy the city. Greg Spector (@GregSpector) has written up a *lovely* 18C specific post on Pittsburgh for ASECS attendees this year. Check it out here: Touring the 18C in Pittsburgh.

Tip #7


You’ll find us Tweeting @asecsgrad, and so will @ASECSWomen and many more. ASECS has a big group of participants that live-tweet panels. Two great panels at the same time? Ask someone else to tweet the one you can’t get to! I’ve made some great connections with people at ASECS conferences after we shared a panel tweet-storm.
This year you’ll find ASECS related tweets under #ASECS16 .

Tip #8 (a silly one)

Shoe Game.

There are plenty of articles out there on what to wear at an academic conference. Each conference has it’s own personality.

In her Chronicle article (above) Devoney Looser notes this on fashion at conferences in general:

Dress aspirationally. There will be a range of attire at any academic conference, although there will also probably be a de facto uniform. Want to know how to dress? Look at photos from past conferences, or ask a trusted mentor for advice. Some people make a name for themselves by dressing ultra smartly or ultra casually. Maybe that’s you, and you’re most comfortable that way. Fine.

But if it’s not, and you are struggling with how to present yourself, then dress aspirationally. Are you a graduate student? Dress like a new assistant professor. Are you a new assistant professor? Dress like the person going up for tenure. It can’t hurt to have others envision you as already in the next professional stage or rank that you’d like to achieve.

On an ASECS specific note I’ll include a few personal observations:

It varies. There are people in suits. There are people in jeans with a blazer. I wear a dress (with pockets!) most days. Nobody to my knowledge has ever commented negatively on fashion. You’ll see a lot of black, but not in a snobby way.
But what you will see is some kick-ass shoe game.
As Cassie Childs so aptly noted a few weeks ago, “Shoe game is high at ASECS”. Kit Kincade always shows up with some fantastic footwear, and I am sure it will be THE place to look for these in action:
Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 9.57.00 AM

Image from Official Dr. Martin’s website here.



On a final note, one shared by everyone who commented on the Facebook thread over at Eighteenth-Century Quick Questions page (you should join), everyone noted that ASECS (and it’s regional daughters ) is just plain a friendly, welcoming conference. Can’t wait to see you (and your shoes) there next week!


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