Earlier this summer Professor Nancy Henry, Dr. Robin Barrow, and graduate student Kat Powell all traveled to Venice to attend the “Global and the Local” conference organized jointly by NAVSA/BAVS/AVSA. Professor Henry presented her paper, “Victorian Investing, Global Finance and Realist Fiction” on the panel “Global Finance and the City of London” along with Janet Rutterford (Open U, UK) and Silvana Colella (Università di Macerata, Italy) Dr. Barrow presented her paper, “Raped on the Railway?: Sex, Safety, and Panic in the Victorian Press,” and Kat Powell presented her paper, “Railroad Ties: Local and Global Links and Gendered Pivots in Dickens’s Bleak House and Riddell’s Austin Friars.” The conference was held on San Servolo island, but all attendants had plenty of time to explore the wonder that is Venice. Robin’s thoughts on Venice and the conference can be found here.
Before the conference began, Kat attended the Professionalization Workshop organized by Dino Felluga and Emily Allen of Purdue University. Here, she shares a little about her experience:
I recently returned from an amazing experience in Venice, where I spent a wonderful two weeks as a participant in the Professionalization Workshop (May 24-June 2, June &) and “The Global and the Local” Conference (June 3-6) co-organized by the North American, British, and Australasian Victorian Societies. As a graduate student just finishing my third year in the PhD program, this experience—the amount of information, professional connections, and practical application—was invaluable.
Each day of the Professionalization Workshop was dedicated to a specific topic related to academic life and scholarship, including: conferences, grant-writing, research support, publishing, and the job market. The sessions combined lectures from guest speakers, question and answer sessions, and inventive exercises. Our activities included small group workshops of our conference proposals, team grant proposal writing, and analysis of the conventions of several senior scholars’ publications. Because the conference was co-sponsored by the Victorian Studies societies spanning several continents, we learned about the differences between a variety of job markets and career paths. We also learned from academic administrators and members of hiring committees the conventions of a good cv, cover letter, writing sample, and teaching statement and were generously provided with models and samples of these job-market materials
About 40 students attended the workshop from graduate programs around the world, and after rooming, eating, and exploring Venice together, we formed a close-knit cohort prior to the conference. This meant that not only did we make friends and establish collegial relationships with each other but we also formed a support network, facilitating introductions for each other with the senior scholars who arrived the second week. I also got to know many professors better since my advisor, professor Nancy Henry was in attendance. Amongst others, she introduced me to fellow Charlotte Riddell scholar, Silvana Colella (Università di Macerata, Italy) as well as mobility network scholar, Ruth Livesey (Royal Holloway, University of London), both of whom have offered to share their work with me in the future, which will undoubtedly benefit my related research projects.
The conference was an incredible experience, as well. Besides some truly phenomenal panels, the conference included several alternative sessions, including “work-in-progress” and “material culture” seminars. I attended Eileen Gillooly’s (Columbia University) seminar on “Local and Global Dickens,” where we discussed the five-page papers of both senior and junior scholars. I also attended James Buzard’s (MIT) work-in-progress seminar, “‘He Can’t Bear His Name’: Autobiography, Autoethnography, David Copperfield,” a departure from Buzard’s recent book, Disorienting Fiction, which is on my impending specialized exam reading list. Finally, I attended the Material Culture seminar, “Rivers,” presented by Pat Hardy, curator of the Museum of London. Besides being informative, these seminars, because they were relatively small, became spaces of fruitful exchange, allowing for truly productive and thought-provoking discussions.
Throughout the workshop and conference, senior scholars made every effort to spend time talking with junior scholars about their work and careers. I also exchanged information with early career professors, who share similar interests. A few of them offered me their contact information and have since sent me bibliographies, pre-publication articles, and an invitation to communicate further. This was by far the friendliest and most productive conference I have attended. I came away from this experience with confidence, energy, ideas, connections, and a new sense of myself as a member of a wide-spanning but close-knit scholarly community. This was a truly life- and career-changing experience.