Well, it’s time for another episode of Academic Progress Goes Walkabout. I am leaving this morning for my former home-away-from-home and resting place of fallen stars, deviants, gods (of the rock variety), and loners alike. That’s right, Los Angeles: the most apathetic city in America. Truth be told, I am SERIOUSLY looking forward to this trip, for 3 primary reasons:
1) I miss my LA friends. It has been a few months since I last visited K, Moose, FizzMonster, and the rest; and since I no longer have a Facebook account (gasp! I know!), face-time is really my best way of staying in touch. I look forward to hearing how their lives have changed since we were last together and to re-connecting in the way of 20-somethings everywhere, over: coffee, beer, and sugary/fatty/delicious foods (Persian ice cream… here I come!).
2) I am pretty excited to be presenting my paper “Drowning out the Silence: Nigerian Civil War Literature and the Politics of Gender-Based Violence” at UCLA’s Thinking Gender Conference. Though both the conference and the paper I am presenting are quite far from my core research interests, I hope this is an opportunity to expand my academic horizons, learn something new, meet some interesting young scholars, and polish my conference presentation chops. Last night I went through the agonizing process of picking a cute-but-appropriate outfit (anthro skirt, black tank, cardigan, Gentle Souls flats) and rehearsing my 12 minute PPT presentation. In case anyone is interested, here is the abstract for my paper (some light reading to lull you into a stupor at bedtime?):
Popular, academic, and policy discourse on transitional justice and social healing revolves around truth and reconciliation commissions and the testimonial method for treatment of post-traumatic stress. A new generation of scholarship critiques these policies as insufficient for addressing and resolving the traumas experienced by victims of sexual and gender-based violence. The key issues of stigma and silence are only compounded when the conflict ended years before efforts at reconciliation became the norm. This is the case with the Nigerian Civil War (1967-70) which continues to have a profound impact on contemporary Nigerian society and politics. One body of work that has been largely neglected as a potential source of memory, representation, and even reconciliation is Nigerian Civil War literature. This paper seeks to bring literature into the wider discourse on memory and reconciliation, with special attention to the role of female Nigerian writers in representing sexual and gender-based violence.
3) Travel + Sunshine + Warm Weather in February + Good Friends + Academic Commitment = Stress Relief. I have said it before and I will say it again, January was the longest month of the year. Constantly refreshing my inbox in the hope that there would be news from one of my grad school prospects has put a substantial strain on my sanity. February may or may not be worse. I anticipate that many of my acceptances and rejections will arrive in the coming weeks and my mind is largely dominated by thoughts of “what if?” and “when?” My response has been to throw myself into activities that keep me busy (an RAship that has me designing a pretty cool/pleasantly well-organized database, my MA thesis, my newly acquired TAship) and activities that keep me sane (yoga, cat-care [i.e. pandering to my friend/confidante, Moe], and adventures). This trip to LA falls into the second category… a bit of travel to keep me sane and to take my mind off my severe case of GSAAS (Grad School App Anxiety Syndrome).