As some of you may know, a group of SFU World Literature students went to the ACLA conference in Boston this past spring. So … here are some pictures. I really had no elegant segue. Should I tell the story? I’ll tell the story.

The group of us at Vancouver Airport

The group of us at Vancouver Airport

We got to the airport early on Thursday, leaving for Boston by way of Minneapolis. The first plane was alright, but the second was really cramped and I had something of a panic attack. I didn’t take any pictures of the hotel room, but it was your standard deal; two beds, a tiny little bathroom with shower that had no water pressure and a tiny counter that was entirely taken up by a microwave, tiny kettle and tinier sink. And bunch of lamps which Krisi would flick on one by one over the course of the two hours she was up before the rest of us. A television, which was very important for my sanity, and an alarm clock that would make random horrible buzzing noises for no apparent reason and as a result had to be unplugged every night. It was pretty nice, actually. It had character. And we could see McDonalds from it. Apparently we were only a block away from the subway loop, but no one told us that so we walked or bussed to the school every day, not realizing that we could have walked two minutes down the road and taken the train for two more minutes and been RIGHT THERE. But the concierges were all very nice, so I’m going to imagine that they all thought that the other ones had told us. For New Orleans, I’ll make sure to take pictures. There was a continental breakfast, which we used to make our road sandwiches and from which we stole tea. We also stole tea from the complimentary basket of goodies at Harvard, but we had gotten really ahead of ourselves; I don’t know what it is about water on the east coast, but every cup of tea we made just tasted … weird.  

Entrance off the bus loop into Harvard Square

Entrance off the bus loop into Harvard Square

We bussed up to Harvard the first day and nearly missed the stop. Everything is brick and cobble around there, or so it seemed to us, and we weren’t entirely sure where we were at any given time. We kind of figured it out, by the end, though thankfully there were no students around (it was Spring Break) to see us wandering aimlessly around Harvard Square while trying to figure out where we were supposed to be (we’ve decided that when SFU hosts the ACLA in 2011, we’re going to put up lots of signs. Pretty ones. With borders and sparkles and different fonts.)  

Hi, Harvard!

Hi, Harvard!

See the absence of signage? Atrocious!  

Harvard Square

Harvard Square

It was pretty cool. Everything was old and brick and there were people wandering around taking pictures (like us). Some of the buildings were so old that the steps had been worn down so that they were slanted and they built new wooden steps over the old stone steps so that you wouldn’t slip and injure yourself. We all volunteered at least a few hours for the ACLA, doing registration and giving directions – which was pretty hilarious, since none of us were actually from Cambridge and our directions consisted of looking at the map on the back of the program and saying things like, “Well, it looks like if you walk out these doors and then go right …. then right again …. and then straight until you hit the street, then you’ll be … somewhere.” The ACLA people were nice, though frazzled. Because we got there a day late, we ended up learning as we went along, which led to some problems, but nothing earth shattering. The scholars were almost universally excited to meet us; it’s not within the norm for them to see undergrads at conferences like this and our commitment and involvement in our program seemed to make them very happy. Krisi goes to Harvard 023 During our wanderings one day, we decided to go into the Harvard book store (we also went into Baskin’ Robbins, but we didn’t take pictures – just imagine lots of pink) and people drinking coffee. Which reminds me – it was deviously cold there; not our kind of cold, but this dry cold that goes right through you. Anyway, the book store. Hardwood floors that got warped and slant-y at certain points and high bookshelves on the top floor. They had a basement too, where they kept the books they were ashamed of – I found an X-Men comic book while Krisi snatched up a really nice copy of Goethe’s collected works before I could even get all the way down the steps. She immediately came up to me, grinning hugely, and showed me that she’d just gotten the last copy of Goethe’s collected works. Well, shame on me for letting her get ahead of me in a book store.  

Touching the lucky toes of John Harvard('s Statue)

Touching the lucky toes of John Harvard('s Statue)

On the tour Paulo arranged for us

On the tour Paulo arranged for us

On one of the days, we were taken on a tour of the campus by a professor. We wandered through one of the libraries, the one where they keep the first edition manuscripts that look like they’ll fall apart if you breathe too hard in their direction. Understandably, we had to put our coats and bags in lockers and weren’t allowed to take pictures (I think the flash is somehow detrimental, but I’m not sure. Maybe they didn’t want to risk the criminal element casing the joint). As a result, I have no pictures of the library, just of us approaching the library.  

What I think is the library

What I think is the library

Because of volunteering, I wasn’t able to attend many of the seminars (I did get to hear about Stephen King and zombies – two separate panels) but the ones I did attend gave me an interesting incite into a facet of scholarliness I hadn’t considered; nerd arguments. It was really interesting to hear these people arguing the semantics of things that they’d studied for so long because, even though they were arguing with one another, at the same time they were SO excited that someone else was interested in the same things they were. Like queer culture in zombie movies. A bit surprising to find an entire panel dedicated solely to that.    

At the banquet

At the banquet

There was a banquet … I think on the Saturday, in the large hall where the first years got to eat. We were all really dressed up – as you can kind of see – not realizing until it was too late that the banquet attire was supposed to be business casual. Everyone was really nice, though, and very complimentary. The head of the MLA stopped us and told us we looked great, and not to be embarrassed (which we were, kind of) because at the MLA conferences she got really dressed up, too. The food was fantastic, though the guys serving the wine looked about sixteen and I remember wondering if the rules about serving alcohol were different in the states; in Canada, if you aren’t old enough to drink it, you usually can’t serve it. We originally intended to sing karaoke, but when plans fell through on that, we ended up going back to the hotel, watching the Sex and the City movie on television (or half of it – none of us are really fans of the show, and we fell asleep about halfway through) and wandered down the street to McDonald’s to get milkshakes. Four of us went down to the McDonald’s at around midnight. We realized about half a block away that the restaurant was closed, so we decided to go through the drive through. We formed up where we would be in a car, with Krisi driving and two of us fighting in the back. At one point she turned around, while steering, and said, “Calm down back there! Don’t make me pull this car over!” The drive through guy looked bewildered, but he took our order and when we “drove” to the next window and were given our milkshakes, we realized that we SO did not need five; the things looked like they were in Big Gulp containers. We could have ordered two and been set.  

The stained glass window of the hall where Paulo's panel was

The stained glass window of the hall where Paulo's panel was

Paulo and his panel

Paulo and his panel

The next day (I’m pretty sure it was the next day – I’m bad with chronology, it’s why I didn’t major in History), we went to Paulo’s seminar which we didn’t realize (and, I think, he didn’t realize) would end up being a pretty huge deal. If I remember right, it was originally in a smaller hall, but got moved to a bigger one because of all the interest towards it. Wait, no! It was before the banquet! I think? Anyway, Paulo and the others, a professor from a school in China that had had a World Literature program for thirty or so years and the head of the MLA and someone else (sorry other guy!) talked about Comparative Literature and World Literature and the future of both programs. It was suggested that World Literature would eventually take the place of English/Comparative Literature (not by Paulo, by one of the others on the panel), which prompted a lot of discussion among the scholars present. Of all the panels I went to, that one had the most people coming up and asking questions (not that there weren’t people asking questions at the other panels, but most of the ones I saw were in the morning and they didn’t put out the coffee until 11, so everyone was still kind of zonked). On the last day, we went into Boston and here’s where we should have planned ahead. Because we were only there for one extra day, it meant that we only had the one day to wander around Boston. And about a quarter of that time (maybe a third) was spent figuring out how to get where we needed to go. We decided then and there that next time we’d give ourselves a buffer zone, to see the sites more. And I’ll let the rest of the story tell itself in pictures.  

The subway station

The subway station

Quincy Market-ish

Quincy Market-ish

Random buildings

Random buildings

Little Italy

Little Italy Signpost

People hiding from the camera at the restaurant we went to after leaving the one likely run by the mafia

People hiding from the camera at the restaurant we went to after leaving the one likely run by the mafia

Climbing a statue in front of what we thought was Boston Harbor

Climbing a statue in front of what we thought was Boston Harbor

 

At Grendel's Den, where we had breakfast and stole menus

At Grendel's Den, where we had breakfast and stole menus

 

At the Museum of Natural History

At the Museum of Natural History

Well, that’s all for me.

Brittany (and Krisi’s Camera)

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