With the L.M. Montgomery and Reading Conference almost a week away, I asked Co-Chairs Laura Robinson and Emily Woster for some words on collaboration and we can look forward to next week.
The Pleasures of Collaborating….
By Laura Robinson
Being one of the co-chairs of the 13thbiennial L.M. Montgomery Conference, L.M. Montgomery and Reading, has been not only a sincere pleasure but also a fascinating study in collaborating at a distance. With intrepid co-chair, Emily Woster, we managed a fine choreography of google.docs (Emily’s strength) and spreadsheets (also Emily’s strength) in order to coordinate the vetting of the proposals, the organizing of the sessions, the application for funding, and what seemed like a million smaller issues. The schedule of events has taken shape in a way beyond our imaginations, with special events and displays such as the “Unearthly Pleasures: The Artful Astronomy of L.M. Montgomery” by Dave Hickey, “The Wreck of the Marco Polo” Virtual Reality Experience, and the quilt, "The Times and Places of Lucy Maud Montgomery," by Ruth Paynter, alongside the traditional academic papers. For vetting the proposals, we were a team of four from Newfoundland, Minnesota, Texas, and North Carolina. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council funding grant was co-written from Prince Edward Island, Minnesota, and Newfoundland. With technology, we managed it all as if we were sitting in the same room. My favourite moment was being on Skype with Kate Scarth at UPEI and Emily Woster at University of Minnesota (and me in Newfoundland). Emily updated the conference program live on our screens as we spoke. I certainly think Montgomery would have been impressed with the technological possibilities; and she most certainly would have loved the collaborative nature of creating such a conference. We’re looking forward to seeing each of you there and establishing more collaborations and connections in person!
The Delights of Anticipation…(title of Chapter 13 in Anne of Green Gables)
By Emily Woster
As Laura says, a fantastic array of events have sprung up in, around, and throughout the conference. Two years ago, I couldn’t have guessed, though I might have hoped, that “L.M. Montgomery and Reading” would inspire such a rich, varied conference program. We have spent months reading about each and every event and paper (and, in my case, making spreadsheets to keep them organized). If, as Anne says, “looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them,” then I think this conference should be lovely indeed.
One of my favorite parts of these conferences is watching the “theme” of the sessions take shape. Not the “Theme” we’ve titled the conference and around which we’ve all built our papers, but the theme that develops over days of listening to and learning from one another. By the conference Sunday, it seems that we all develop a shared language and (re)connect over our collective fascination with Montgomery. I generally leave the conference both exhausted and exhilarated, with a rekindled passion for my Montgomery research. All this is to say, like Anne, I can’t help but breathlessly anticipate the collaborations and connections to come.