NCUR + Real Life

I’m back from NCUR! All in all, i would say it was a good, if frustrating and stressful, experience.

I gave my speech yesterday, and the room was pretty packed. The second presenter didn’t show up, so we had lots of extra time. After I finished presenting my paper (which I had labored over all week), there were about 5 minutes of Q&A, and then the moderator said that we should just continue the Q&A session until people ran out of questions.

I’d say that I’m glad I freaked out so much about the speech – people asked tough questions, but I had the knowledge to be able to answer them thoroughly after poring over my notes for a full week straight. I also had a pretty broad audience, from people who were there to learn about wind energy to people who wanted to hear more about American Indian issues. All in all, I feel really good about the way it went, and feel more equipped to write a paper that could (potentially) be published now.

Some things I have discovered:

1. I am an incredibly relaxed traveler. This is something I’ve kind of known for a while, but it was reinforced by this trip in particular.

2. I love mountains, and would love to live in a place that has them.

3. Missoula is an interesting place. I wish I’d had more time to explore it (I had to prep for my own presentation, as well as see other presentations). It was also hard to get around, because our hotel was all the way out in a weird hotel/chain store section of the town. Note to self: Go back to Missoula at some point.

4. I usually know what I’m talking about when presenting my own research. I should trust my capabilities.

In non-research related news, I came home and crashed last night. I woke up this morning to discover that our fridge had died at some point while I was gone. I don’t know when it died, but everything in the freezer was completely thawed.

After this unpleasant discover, I spent the morning cleaning out the fridge, and talking to the landlady about it. She’s going to replace the fridge and we won’t have to pay for it, but damn. That really sucks. Among my long list of things I didn’t want to do today, that has to be pretty high up there.

At least I finally got my books on India! I can start learning the devanagari script, and start reading about this amazing place that I’m going to next semester. Summer is so close I can taste it, and I’m probably going to be so busy this next month that summer will come before I know it.

Life is looking good, despite my issues with the fridge. Tonight is for finishing up small projects before the week, and then watching the beginning of Season 3 of Mad Men. All in all, life is pretty awesome.

Pictures from St. Louis coming soon! I swear! I just need to find my camera chord …

Research Research Research

This week has been an amazing one as far as research goes. I am proud to announce …

My research project was chosen again for a Collaborative Research Grant!

This is my victory face:

I took this last summer on the trip to South Dakota to interview folks for research. It seemed fitting to resurrect it.

I’m really, really lucky to have received a grant again this year. There were 105 applicants, and they could only accept 25. I would have been incredibly crushed if I hadn’t got this grant, not only for financial reasons ($2500 would have been a lot of money not to make this summer), but because this is the infamous Arthur Project.

For those of you that haven’t known about this project, it’s been about three years in the making. This summer, I will get to work very closely with one of my very favorite English professors, on a project that has been growing since I was a freshman in college.

To be specific, I will be researching the critical theoretical implications of the popularity of the legend of King Arthur in a “post-colonial” society. In other, less academic words: Why the hell is King Arthur still a major cultural force when the myth has been used for centuries to excuse imperialism and we have “moved past imperialism”? (Irony quotes signify my skepticism that we have truly moved past in imperialist society.)

So this summer it will be all King Arthur, allllll the tiiiiiime. I’m sure my nerdery will leak into this blog.

But this also means that I have to get my ass in gear. Marcela, my adviser, is going to kick my ass in a very good way. Because there is such a rich history of Arthurian retellings, she’s requiring that I get through the major medieval, Renaissance, Romantic, and Modern texts before the summer begins. Which means that I have to read all four Arthurian novels Chretien de Troyes wrote, The Idylls of the King, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, as well as attempt to track down the early Arthurian films (like, silent movie-early). To be a good Arthurian critic, I have to have this wide grounding in the topics.

Which is exciting, but the grant starts in June. Eeek! So if you don’t see much of me, there’s a reason …

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In other news, I am currently sitting in a cafe, working on research and drinking far too much coffee to be legal. Seriously. This is becoming a social problem.

This week I head out to Missoula, Montana to present my research from last summer at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research. This is incredibly exciting. I’d talked about this in an earlier post.

This is the conference that is pretty important. And by “pretty important,” I mean that there will be grad school scouts there. It’s pretty much the biggest conference on Undergraduate Research in the country, and so I have to be on top of my game.

Which is kinda scary, considering my research ended 8 months ago.

So now I’m hurriedly trying to become an expert in my field again, before we set off. Plus side? I get to ride in an airplane. And … see Montana? Mountains! Mountains, Gandalf!

And the whole thing will be much more enjoyable if I can get a good, early idea of my presentation. Even writing it now seems a bit last-minute. So wish me luck! I should really get back to it.

But I leave with a promise! My main computer is finally back from the shop, so I should have some pics up soon from my St. Louis trip.

Until then, fare thee well!