From a symposium on wine to a congress on comedy, these are 7 academic conferences I’d kill to attend.

Here in Ex Ordo Support I’m guiding customers in North America and beyond to achieve conference nirvana. I have the great pleasure of collaborating with and training kick-ass conference organisers, PCOs and enterprise teams on Ex Ordo. My aim is to understand each conference’s process and use our system to strengthen it.

This job allows me to chat to fabulous people who represent diverse conferences and lately I’ve been daydreaming of checking out some conferences for strict research purposes…

Here are 7 of them I’d go to in a heartbeat!

1. The 7th Self-Publishing Conference

27 April 2019 | London, UK

When I was studying for my Master’s in publishing I was very interested in learning more about the self-publishing market which empowers authors to keep control of their rights, marketing, and creativity (I even wrote my dissertation on it!). This is a market that’s seen the meteoric rise of authors who are reaching readers without the interference of an agent, the input of a traditional publisher, or the interface of a brick and mortar bookshop.

Although I have attended the London Book Fair and Bologna Children’s Book Fair that exist on the basis of buying and selling copyright, I wonder what it would be like to attend the Self-Publishing Conference and hear about the other side of publishing.

This is the UK’s only dedicated self-publishing event. And it offers authors a chance to hear from those who work within the thriving self-publishing world, and network with fellow authors.

2. Alternative Comedy Now

2-3 May 2019 | University of Kent, UK

My partner, Dom, and I listen to a number of podcasts about comedy and hosted by comedians and try to see as many comedians as we can afford to support. We even volunteered at the Vodafone Comedy Carnival this past autumn in Galway.

But I have a natural curiosity about the industry behind comedy performance and especially the rising movement of alternative material challenging what it means to be funny. So this Alternative Comedy Now international interdisciplinary conference takes my fancy.

Organised by the Popular & Comic Performance Research Centre at the University of Kent and the Centre for Comedy Studies Research at Brunel University London, the event takes stock of this crucial cultural movement. In addition to academic papers, it features involvement from some of the key figures in alternative comedy, a festival of performance, and an exhibition of archived stand-up material.

3. The Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics 2019 Annual Summer Meeting

17-19 June 2019 | University of Lisbon, Portugal

I was raised bi-lingual because my family’s first language was Portuguese. But as new American citizens, it was also important to them to be able to communicate in English. My mother learned English alongside me by watching Sesame Street on TV and memorising Michael Jackson songs from the radio. She also learned Spanish through working at a factory in Providence, Rhode Island and becoming friendly with her Guatemalan co-worker, Mama Mari.

Because of this foundation I have always had a knack for languages (I have almost completely forgotten Japanese and French, however) and I took a fascinating course on linguistics while I was studying abroad in London as an undergrad. It focused on sociolinguistics, language theory, and even language acquisition in childhood.

My favourite topic was how pidgin and creole languages evolved. When you blend two or more languages a pidgin or creole is born, but they’re not identical twins. Like myself, a pidgin is first-generation and multi-cultural. It is formed by connecting the languages of different native speakers. Whereas a creole is a formalised and established language which was once a pidgin but now has significant structure, grammar and syntax.

So this annual summer meeting of the Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics in conjunction with the Association of Portuguese and Spanish-lexified Creoles is right up my alley. Over three days, it covers everything from phonology and morphology, to syntax and semantics of pidgins and creoles. And it would give me the perfect opportunity to dive back into this subject, especially Hawaiin pidgin (which is actually a creole) because it has elements of Portuguese in it.

4. Playful Learning

10-12 July 2019 | Leicester, Leicestershire UK

I was lucky enough to attend a high school in Rhode Island which encouraged learning through your interests. Thanks to four years of internships, I was able to discover what I wanted to study at university: English literature (because I was an Anglophile) and creative writing (because I wanted to create the kind of books I enjoyed reading).

Before I reached that consensus, I enjoyed learning about zoology and horticulture by working in my local zoo, Roger Williams Park Zoo, and discovering what it’s like to be a public health policy researcher at Brown University.

Because of this, the concept of learning by doing and learning through the medium of play (instead of just regurgitating information in a textbook) is one I firmly believe in.

The Playful Learning conference is pitched at the intersection of learning and play for adults. While it’s underpinned by robust research and working practices, the event provides a space where teachers, researchers and students can play, learn and think together. Selected papers from the 2019 conference will also form the inaugural issue of the new Journal of Play in Adulthood.

I don’t think play should end in childhood; play keeps us young and curious. This conference looks like the perfect opportunity to learn more about how we can work hard and play hard in the modern world.

5. The Electronic Literature Organization Conference & Media Arts Festival

July 15-17 2019 | University College Cork, Ireland

I worked in the intersection between publishing and technology for a few years, so this conference would stoke my nerdy fire!

E-lit and, specifically, transmedia is something that really excites me because of the bridge it forms between fringe literature and digital culture. What I mean by transmedia is the immersing technique of telling stories across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies. It is not a matter of adding bonus material as occurs in multimedia books. Each format is an integral part of the narrative and provides a distinct experience.

The annual Electronic Literature Organization Conference and Media Arts Festival brings together e-lit scholars and practitioners from across the globe, offering them an opportunity to share their research and creative contributions with their international community. And it’s conveniently located in Cork, a place I’ve been dying to visit in summertime.

Two birds, one stone, right?

6. 3rd International Conference on Election and Democracy

18 October 2019 | Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal

This is another example of a conference which is located conveniently and also aligns with my interests. My family are from São Miguel in the Azores so accommodation would be easily sorted!

Besides the breathtaking scenery I love visiting the ilha verde or “green island” so I can gorge on the most delicious pineapples in the world, and fresh queijadas de feijão aka sweet bean pastries aka little cakes from heaven. When I’m not eating I enjoy taking a dip in the hot springs (the island is still volcanic) or stocking up on chá at the Gorreana tea plantation which is the oldest, and currently only, tea plantation in Europe!

The International Conference on Election and Democracy aims to provide a platform for everyone from academics and educational leaders, to policymakers and anyone in the domain of interest from around the world to discuss the issues of the day.

It’s inspiring to see more young people getting involved in elections and democracy because it takes confidence and empathy to engage with politicians and law-makers, and to understand the power of voting and activism. Especially when there are so many inspiring movements like the women’s march and the recent climate-change walkout.

7. International Cool Climate Wine Symposium 2020

12 - 17 July 2020 | Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

I imagine the reason I want to attend this conference is fairly obvious.

Ever since my first wine tour in Tuscany, I’ve had a voracious interest in learning about (and imbibing. Who am I kidding?) wine.

The International Cool Climate Wine Symposium invites winemakers and grape growers from around the world to discuss the challenges and opportunities of cool climate grape and wine production.

When I lived in the UK, I had two grape vines in my garden which were gifted to me by my green-fingered step-father, Tony. Even though I never got enough of a yield to make my own wine like he does (his red wine is phenomenal, I could drink it all day), I would still love to learn more about cool-climate wine at this conference.

(The symposium tours of Canada’s wine regions are just a handy bonus...)

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