2017 Postmodern Village Conference
by T.S. DeHaviland
The broken glass and boarded up windows were our first two indications that we were part of the problem.
We were here through something of a comedy of errors, each more well-meaning than the last.
As venue after venue fell through,Postmodern Village Conference 2017 organizers called, Skyped, Go-To Meetinged, and instant-messaged their way from glorious-return-to-relevance to what-could-we-do-if-we-went-to-Sandtown?
Sandtown is a neighborhood in Baltimore that is famous for its endemic resistance to the blessings of regentrification—and by that we mean it is riddled with poverty, drug abuse, violence, and overall disrepair. Structural oppression is exactly the sort of thing academics like us love to write about but, unless we're adjuncts, love even more to studiously avoid.
Only a few stops on the CityLink will get you to the Inner Harbor, of course, if you really do need your crabcakes and your craft beer.
The location didn't seem to deter participation, though, as you can see below. Few had the time to venture beyond the "conference center"--a recently flipped former flophouse that, suffice it to say, was still a work in progress. Room card keys worked randomly and sporadically, floorboards in several rooms had a tendency to noticeably sink when stepped on, and it appeared that a few former residents had, frankly, refused to leave.
But random Bartlebys notwithstanding, we managed to have a good time, funky bathrooms and spotty wi-fi and all.
New to Conference 2017 was the corporate sponsorship of individual presentations. Special thanks go to the Bourbon Board of Kentucky and to Johnson Products for their generosity and contribution to individual fashion sense and the overall sense of camaraderie and general forgetting.
Also new were various different "tracks" for those whose specialties in literary and cultural studies require or call out for less general approaches to conferring. One might say that, despite even we are STEAM-ing toward the future!
While none of us were arrested, the police were in and out frequently, most for unrelated cases of domestic violence. (Is it "domestic" if it's happening in a hotel?)
A stalwart 600 of you stuck with us through our organizational challenges, undeterred by venue or the overall social support for what we do in the era of Trump. But hegemons gonna get hegemonic, and the best we can do is continue to engage even more deeply into the esoteric reaches of radical criticality.
So without further dithering, the presentations . . .