Friday, November 14, 2008

NAVSA 2008 - Part 1

Well, I had this great update all written out about my adventures over the course of the day, but something happened to the software, and the whole damn thing got deleted and I couldn't retrieve it! Very annoying!!! So, at this point, I'm writing an abbreviated version, and I'll write more in the next couple of days.

When I arrived here in New Haven yesterday, I made a quick visit to the Yale Center for British Art, and then got a guided tour of the newly revamped Library in the Paul Rudolph-designed Art and Architecture Building. My friends AT & SR, a newlywed gay couple who married in Canada last year, hosted me for a wonderful home-cooked dinner, not to mention some fun playtime with their adorable dachshund Dash. I'm staying at The Historic Mansion Inn here in New Haven. It's a clean, comfortable, old home run by an Italian family, which makes sense since this is apparently the Little Italy neighborhood, although I've yet to get over to the restaurants.

This morning, I had every intention of getting to the conference bright and early, but sleep won out, so I missed the beginning portion of the first session, "Aestheticism and Sexualities," and as a result felt like I had walked into the middle of a conversation and never fully grasped the scope of the panel session. There were papers given on Raffalovich, Wilde, and Darwin. After a coffee break, I headed over to the panel session "Exotic Contrasts in Victorian Painting," where my friend JJK gave an interesting talk entitled "Hercules and Icarus: Leighton's Oriental Fantasy," about how Frederic Leighton created contrasts of dark- and light-skinned men in two paintings, and how this related to his experiences in Egypt and his thoughts on masculinity. There were also papers on Rossetti's juvenilia, and a ambitious juxtaposition of portraits by Sargent, criminal photographs by Bertillon, and the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. I had lunch at a Mexican place with some colleagues from the UK & US. Afterwards, I headed for my Material Study Session, which was something they had organized for this conference to give attendees opportunities to see some of the highlights of Yale's Victorian collections. Although I didn't register for it, I was sent to the David Cox exhibition at the YCBA. I confess I ducked out after a few minutes. I was exhausted, and I really wasn't that interested in his watercolor landscapes from the early 1800s, having already seen them yesterday afternoon. I was saved by a phone call from RK, so I had coffee with him and another colleague. The Plenary Session came next. This was a talk by Elizabeth Prettejohn from the University of Bristol. I'll write more about that later. I give my presentation tomorrow (Saturday) morning as well, so until's bedtime. I'm exhausted.

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