SST

This week has been the start of my Easter holiday. As a teacher, there is a great end of term feeling, preparing to enjoy the holiday. Not so much for me this weekend. I had a supervision on Monday to prepare for and a paper to give at the SST conference today. For my supervision, I had to complete an overview of the state of readiness of the whole PhD, broken down into chapters. This proved to be a very useful task, reminding me what I’d written ages ago, and breaking down what is to be done into manageable chunks. I also prepared an abstract for the whole thing, which will obviously need to be updated again but proved a very useful task. As well as that, I had chapter revisions on the go and the paper to revise. So that was the weekend gone. I had a great supervision on Monday, which was good motivation to get on, though obviously taking into account that it is exam season in school after the holidays so I have to be realistic about the amount of PhD work that will be possible. SST started on Monday night with a great paper by Randall Zachman, who was extremely engaging, and I learnt lots about Calvin. Great way of holding the conference too by publishing papers in advance to leave maximum time for discussion. Tuesday morning saw another interesting paper by George Pattison on Kierkegaard, and again I learnt much! Next it was my turn. I had a decent turn-out given that there were 7 concurrent papers. My paper was entitled “Embodied Silence: A Theological Account of Silence in John Cage’s Music”. I explored two differing approaches to Cage, one from Catherine Pickstock’s creation ex nihilo, and one from Brown and Balthasar’s approach to embodiment. I started talking, and a few minutes in David Brown comes in and sits down. I then have a discussion in my paper using his theology. Nothing scarier than giving a paper with the theologian you’re drawing on sat in front of you (especially when he is such a well-respected figure). 20 minutes passes very quickly. The questions I was asked were insightful and, thankfully, I had discussed some of them at length with Rachel Muers, my supervisor, over the last year or so. Brown asks a question about where I situate my theology in the realm of theologies of music (a very kind question given the lengthy thinking I have done on this subject). I had a chance to see lots of other short papers, meet some very interesting people, and go out for dinner with some of them. Sadly (not) I have to fly to Texas tomorrow so I won’t be able to make the final day, but it has been a much more rewarding experience than the SST conference I attended in the first year of my PhD when I felt entirely out of my depth for the whole conference. This makes it 3 papers given in a calendar year!

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