Last weekend I attended the 2011 MELUS (The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States) conference in Boca Raton, Florida. I had the privilege of presenting my paper on a panel moderated by Wenying Xu of Florida Atlantic University (also the “lame duck” president of MELUS, as she quipped), alongside Maya Socolovsky of University of North Carolina (Charlotte) and Cara Elana Erdheim of Sacred Heart University. Socolovsky’s and Erdheim’s papers were about the role of food in The Language of Baklava and the works of Richard Wright, respectively. It turns out that much of Xu’s recent research (and her newest book) revolves around the culinary in literature, and perhaps it’s with this on my mind that I find I have food on the mind as I am drafting my most recent chapter of my dissertation.
There were so many enjoyable people and panels at that conference, and I must admit that the conference itself was a very fun one. The other attendees were friendly, and I got so much useful feedback during my panel that I am already looking forward to the next conference I’m attending (the Association for Asian American Studies conference in New Orleans next month). Some of the highlights for me: a reading by Shirley Lim (from her newest book of poetry called Walking Backwards); a reading by Gary Shteyngart (from his latest novel called Super Sad True Love Story); a Women of Color Caucus on the process of moving from the job market to third year review; a roundtable on publishing; papers by Jason Bartles, Christopher Lewis, Tiffany Salter, Wannalee Romero, Aqua Chiu Wai Fong, Terry Rowden, Richard Mace; and a roundtable on the crisis in the humanities…and of course, the annual dance party!
It was really a fantastic event, and I hope to make attending this conference an annual affair. It really did feel like, as I listened to papers and roundtables and readings, I had found the community of scholars I belong to.