Monstrous Antiquities: Wrap-up

So, there you have it. The four posts below sum up my experience of the conference, and they are full of links and goodness.

As for me, obviously I had a great time. Like I said, I am still trying to get the lid back on my head. This may be because the things I’ve been thinking about recently have been largely Victorian adventure and horror fiction as well as comic books and so on. I think I may be doing that thing that we all do when we reach a certain age where we attempt to locate ourselves within the general progress of Western culture. It’s like when you realise that Jack Kirby was a genius and Roy Lichtenstein was … not. Or that wargame miniatures draw on the vocabulary of monumental sculpture. Or … something.

I’m not making sense, which is probably because it’s late. I guess what I’m saying is that for me (and probably for no one else; I’m just an outsider to the topic) the conference really showed me the ways in which archaeology and art and folklore and occultism and charlatanism and quackery are all bound up with each other. And that isn’t necessarily weird — there was a book some years ago now about the influence of archaeology on Seamus Heaney, and if it’s influencing modern poetry then why can’t it be influencing video games? Blah blah blah everything is interconnected. Maybe that’s it.

I think that for me personally the history/archaeology impulse and the sci-fi/horror/nerdery impulse are very closely linked, in the sense that they are connected to my love of incompleteness and systems and the feeling of being on the borders of the unknown. That’s why I always like things that are weird and fragmentary and marginal.

As for the conference itself, it was brilliant. I liked that it was thematically tight enough that the papers wound up commenting on and tying into each other (especially the Egyptology ones) and that it was still broad enough to admit a lot of very diverse papers. It felt like a sweet spot to me. I thought the Petrie film night was fantastic, and I would have loved to have seen more of that kind of thing, although maybe not more 90-minute films. But surely there must be some way to work in, I don’t know, an art show or a field trip or something? Not necessarily this conference, I just mean in general. But if people want it to be this conference that would be fine too. I’m just saying the variety was great. Crowd was good, conversations were good, and there wasn’t one paper where I went “uff, I’m just sitting through this one.” And that’s a one-track conference. I’ve been to conferences where I was in a session that was entirely about my specialist field and found myself thinking “I have no idea why I’m listening to this.” Not that a paper is bad necessarily, just that it says nothing to me. But not here.

I’ve thanked everyone already, I think, but I know that doing a gig like that is a lot of work, so, you know, thanks again to the organisers, to the other speakers, to the volunteers, and to you, reader, for coming along to the blog to read about it. I hope you stick around. Not to be a shill or anything, but there’s a contest on Friday and you could win some inexpensive prizes. I’m just saying.

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Monstrous Antiquities: Wrap-up

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