Thursday, October 03, 2013

The Stuffed Scholar's Travelogue: Day One

For the next few days, travel along with Pat Allen as he attends the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium this weekend.

As the Press's acquiring editor for the Southern Foodways Alliance Studies in Culture, People, and Place series, the biennial Cornbread Nation series, and our food and regional interest books in general, I'm excited to attend the SFA symposium at the University of Mississippi for the first time. The annual symposium, now in its sixteenth year, is legendary both for the breadth of its scholarship and the length of after-hours groaning boards. In a series of blog posts over the weekend--a miniseries I'm calling, for my own amusement, The Stuffed Scholar’s Travelogue--I'll be documenting this first-timer's adventure through one of the liveliest academic meetings in the game.

Day One is a half-day of travel from Athens to Oxford, and I'm packing for the trip. A bit antsy about what the weekend holds in store, I asked friends and colleagues who've attended before about what I should expect. A curious number of sports metaphors were given, the most succinct of which was that the weekend will be "a marathon, not a sprint."

Thus forewarned, I’m gathering my athlete’s kit.
  • For SRO panel discussions as well as long waits at the bar, I'm packing my most comfortable shoes, with drugstore insoles fresh out of the box.
  • An appointment book for dates and notes is a necessity when meeting speakers and scholars. If there's down time, I plan to visit Faulkner’s Rowan Oak and have the romantic notion of reading Candace Waid's SIGNIFYING EYE: SEEING FAULKNER'S ART while sprawled under the shade of one of the ancient trees there.
  • I feel it's only fitting to wear one of Billy Reid's John T model shirts this weekend and a necessity to wear my "eatin' pants” (everybody has eatin’ pants, yes?) and a loose belt.
  • A handful of antacids, virtually every colleague impressed upon me, is essential; also for medicinal purposes, of course, a flask.
  • Gonna make it rain business cards, so I'm taking a big stack of them.
  • Anyone who's ever flown in an unpressurized small aircraft, as I'll be doing in the puddle jumper from Athens to Memphis tomorrow, knows why I'm packing a neti pot--enough said. For four hours without wi-fi on the plane tomorrow, I have to take my pocket-size travel version of Connect 4.
  • Because there's business to be done and acquaintances to be made, a couple of neckties go in my bag too.
Next stop, Memphis.

Pat Allen is an acquisitions editor at the University of Georgia Press.