Thursday, April 30, 2009

What isn't wonderful about a fairy tale conference?

One of the joys of the job is that I can cheerfully tell people I've travelled to the UK for a fairy tale conference.

And it was a fantastic conference. The After Angela Carter conference at UEA in Norwich. There were presenters from all over the globe, some of the 'big names' in fairy tale including Warner, Haase, Zipes and Bacchilega (all keynote speakers), and a very packed programme. In fact, it was so packed, I'd have to seriously hesitate to name highlights. Actually, I don't think I can. Most of us repined that we couldn't be in two or three places at once to catch all the panels and coffee breaks began to look like mad dashes to exchange business cards (I really do need to get some made up!) and email addresses. The final lunch was a prolonged affair of people calling out 'yes, I will email you soon!'

We did have a terrific evening of puppet theatre too, which featured a version of Sleeping Beauty told with a doily princess and prince of thimbles and a version of Little Red Riding Hood told with tomatoes, cabbages, a big red pot and a sinister grater. (Figuringa: Grim/m/aces)

Many of us also noticed that it was one of the best dressed conferences we'd been to. In fact, during the breaks, I often heard people talking about vintage discoveries. All of this boded well for my own paper - which was about princess dresses. I do think there is an inate link between fashion and fairy tale that has yet to be fully exploited. However, I would like to get a head start on that exploitation.

I also got to see Marina Warner, which I was very excited about. From the Beast to the Blonde was one of those pivotal books on my road to academia. And she was wearing a great purple dress with a slim yellow belt and multicoloured cardigan. Sorry, I had to mention that. For those interested, she gave us a preview of her next book on the Arabian Nights, one I'm seriously looking forward to reading.

The only problem about fantastic conferences such as this is the travel involved. Although, there were a couple of amusing moments on the way back. At Heathrow, I was asked at check-in about being a 'Doctor.' When I explained I wasn't medical at all, I was asked what I was a Doctor in. I couldn't resist. "Fairy tales." "Oh!" her face lit up. "That explains the dog on your necklace, the pig on your ring and the dog on your suitcase..." Okay...

Then at Sydney, after hours and hours in the air, I had to declare the chocolate I'd bought at customs (Montezuma's orange & geranium organic dark chocolate - seriously delicious).

"What do you have to declare?"
"Some chocolate."
Customs chap pulls face and is about to wave me off, then looks at my customs/immigration card.
"What are you a lecturer of?"
"Children's literature, actually."
"J***s C****t! Just go through!"

Now, of course, I just have to shake off the last of the jetlag. I've already sorted through all the email that accumulated and taught a class. The terrifying thing is that I have two more conferences (June and July) to write papers for...

One is on Wizard Rock, so if anyone has any suggestions, they'd be more than welcome.

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