Samuel J. Tanner 4 minute read

Another Trip to New Orleans

Curriculum and Pedagogy was the first academic conference where I presented.

In 2011, I wrote an essay about the Pedagogy of Stephen Colbert in a class on post-modernism with another graduate student. Her and I flew down to New Orleans in the fall of 2012 and presented that paper at Curriculum and Pedagogy. Many of the people at the conference were weird, wacky, and smart. And our weird, wacky, and smart paper was welcomed. I even led an improv workshop in a courtyard in the French Quarter. The experience was charming.

Years later, in the fall of 2015, I returned to the conference after accepting an academic position. It was held in Cleveland that year. Again, I was suprised by the warmth of the meeting. Many academic conferences are sterile. Not so with Curriculum and Pedagogy. Most people lacked pretention even though there were many top scholars at the meeting. I talked openly with folks from all over the place about the work of being a professor. Learned a lot. It was good. Not perfect. But good.

I was eager to add items to my c.v. that fall, and agreed to join the governing council of the organization. I've stumbled into all sorts of leadership roles with the group over the last few years, and am now in the position to become co-editor of the Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy with a colleague in the UNC system. Being a journal editor is a great deal of work. But the Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy is a good journal, I have a kismit working relationship with my friend in the UNC system, and this feels like an opportunity to do meaningful work. So it seems silly not to step into the position. It feels like a natural move in this new career as a scholar.

I was able to share my book at this conference. I even read a poem aloud. I wrote poetry for the edited book the group published this year. That scratched an English major itch I have. I've always wanted to be a poet. And this conference provided me space, for a brief moment, to be a poet. That's cool. One of my hero's is William Blake. And I'm no William Blake. But I got to pretend to be for a brief moment. That was fun. Unschackle myself from the mindforged manacles at an academic conference? Don't mind if I do.

I don't like traveling. How many times have I written that in this blog? I have a family. I want to be around my family. But the French Quarter is a weird, wacky, and smart place. There's art everywhere. Homeless people too. Alcohol, musicians, and French colonial architecture. Beignets. Strange coffee shops. Bars. It's fun to enter a new context, if only for a few days. It's even nicer to come home and hug my wife and my two boys.

I'll come to terms with the traveling required of me in this job. I just have to force myself to keep doing it, even if I have anxiety about leaving my family. That's been the way with the things that make me anxious. I don't take pills. Instead, I force myself to move through the nervous energy that comes and goes. Ebbs and flows. This doesn't work for everyone. It seems to work with me. Keep growing. Keep getting healthier with the demands of this existence. That's a worthy pursuit, for sure.

So another Curriculum and Pedagogy conference is in the books. On the c.v. I'll go to other, more prestigious conferences this year. Bigger conferences. But there is something special about this gathering. I'm not sure what it is. But I've attended five of these conferences now. And I keep coming back. So that's cool.

New Orleans is cool. The French Quarter too. Reading poetry too. A little mastubatory, but cool.