October 20, 2018

The second day. The focus of scholarship was upon the pre-raphaelites, gothic, and nineteenth century. The result was a coherent set of complementary papers. Someone sitting behind me said: ‘I think academics deliver far more confidently and interesting papers these days than they did twenty years ago’. I was inclined to agree. The younger generation of scholars are savvier with regard to the skills and the technologies of presentation. Some of them worked their socks off to engage the audience.

During the tea and coffee breaks, I took in the air of heaven at the Bishop’s Palace chapel.

The melancholy of departures. We were aware that our new-found friendships and acquaintances would shortly draw to a close. Conversations intensified, consequently. All our bonds are temporal at best … for now. In my head, I began to process what I’d learned (which isn’t the right word). It places too great an emphasis on personal effort. The fruit of the conference will be, rather, subtle adjustments made to my frame of mind and disposition of the heart. And this, by an external influence.

The Rev. Dr Ayla Lepine’s keynote paper was good. She’s a conspicuously able scholar with an engaging style of delivery. Those two gifts are rarely found in the same person. She shepherded us into her topic, made us feel welcome and included, and brought us to our knees at the end. (A true pastor.)

Notes and observations on the virtues and characteristics of the academic presentations:

The admirable ability to speak fluently, concisely, and quickly; the dynamic of the speaker’s personality is the engine of engagement; the combination of extemporary speaking and verbatim reading; providing helpful and immediately accessible oral illustrations; the expression of the speaker’s energy and enthusiasm stimulates the same in the audience; being human and vulnerable are attractive attributes; surprise me!; tease, enthral, hide, and (eventually) reveal; talk with, rather than to, the audience; knowledge processed through the heart and soul; self-effacement and humility; feeling instead of thinking; the scholarly and the informal, alternating; asking questions on behalf of the audience, even before they formulate them.

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