November 18, 2008

LL's Talk and the AV Meltdown

LL's talk at Holy Cross was well-attended last night. About 60 people showed up, including students and faculty. The chairs or directors of the Anthropology, Women's and Gender Studies, and African Studies departments and programs all came. Her presentation was well-received, eliciting a number of questions from the audience as well as complements from faculty members afterward. As a sort of preliminary job talk, it seemed to go well.

Any success, however, was muted a bit by a negligent audio-video technician. After initially setting up for the presentation, this student worker (I think his name was Lowell) disappeared. Everything was working when he left, but shortly before LL's talk was to begin, the podium microphone stopped working. So did the audio linked to her laptop. She had to give her presentation without the benefit of voice amplification. She also spent hours working on English subtitles for African music video and film clips that address the subject of FGM, but despite having tested them on the system to be used for the presentation there was no audio for two of the clips and the third one wouldn't play at all. As the central theme of her talk revolved around the use of popular culture media in Africa by Africans in their growing resistance to the practice of FGM, this was more than a little bit of a problem. Despite several people trying to get things working, nobody could figure out how to do it. LL got flustered but managed to soldier on through the presentation.

We found out afterward from a couple of other faculty members that the room in which LL spoke frequently has AV problems. I'd go so far as to say that it's notoriously problematic for creating problems for speakers. Why the AV guy would decide to disappear like he did makes no sense. I suppose he just didn't care; he must have had better things to do than to stick around and keep things in working order. As LL put it to me just now when I told her I was writing about this today, "Lowell needs his ass kicked." I'm sure she means that metaphorically.

Nonetheless, the reception afterward was quite nice. LL had the chance to speak at length with several faculty leaders and I got the opportunity to have a talk with Shawn Maurer, Director of Women's and Gender Studies. We swapped stories about going to school in the south (she did her PhD in Texas) and the culture wars. It turns out that her husband is a friend of Jerry Coyne's, too.

In any case, from what I overheard and what she told me afterward, it sounds like LL's talk went over quite well with people important in terms of her getting the tenure-track spot in Anthropology. The chair of the department mentioned that only a dozen or so people show up for presentations, so having something like five times that number come out can only be a positive. We're keeping our fingers crossed.

This morning, LL is off to Florida to defend her prospectus before her committee at FSU. I think she's going to be very glad when this week is over.

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