Conference mode

So I’m deep into the thirteenth International Ibsen Conference, which is being hosted by the University of Tromsø in the far north of Norway. So far it has been exhausting, but very worthwhile. Tromsø is a small arctic town that houses the world’s northernmost university. I’ve been here before to participate in a literary festival on Cora Sandel back in 2003. It’s fun to be back to a town that’s slightly familiar, but which still offers much that is new and interesting.

Conference banner on the main shopping street in Tromsø

I haven’t given my Gatas Gynt paper yet (that happens Friday), so I’ve been trying to talk with people and learn about topics I know nothing about. So far I’ve had some really good conversations, including one incredibly funny discovery; one of my favorite colleagues from another department at the University of Oslo and I were chatting, when suddenly it started to become apparent that we had been in parallel classes in high school the year that I was an exchange student at a really small, rural school in Norway. We both had vague memories of each other, but for various rather strange and culturally specific reasons our two classes had almost no interactions, so we didn’t become friends or anything. It is so weird that two kids from that incredibly backward environment would end up at Norway’s largest university, and even more strange that we’re in such closely related fields.

I took time off from the conference activities this morning to do the fine tuning and visual images for my paper. I was actually a bit surprised by how many changes I ended up making, as I thought it was a pretty polished paper. But I think listening to how much all the non-native speakers here have been struggling with English has made me especially concerned about clarity and not getting bogged down in extraneous details. I think it’s a much better paper for oral delivery now, and am very curious to see what kind of an audience and feedback I get.

Tomorrow all I have to do is chair a session. So far it hasn’t looked like I’ll get much of a chance to do any grading, though as the days are very full. Yesterday was dominated by a very long group excursion. We took a four-hour bus ride (complete with two shorter ferry crossings) to catch the coastal steamer called hurtigruta from a small northern fishing village back down to Tromsø. It was quite a trip! I’m not good at group things like that, but thankfully found some other introverts to hang out with, and so survived more or less. Here’s a time-lapse film of the route the other direction (Tromsø to Skjervøy) from last year’s NRK television phenomenon:

Our conditions yesterday were pretty similar to what you see here.


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