Academic Conferences

The conferences are oppressive bourgeois forms that enforce a style of affected patter and smarmy whimsy in the speaker and polite chuckles and iron-butt torpor in the audience. Success at the conferences requires a certain kind of physically inert personality, superficially cordial but emotionally dissociated. It’s the genteel high Protestant style of the country clubs and corporate boardrooms, with their financial reports and marketing presentations.

—Camille Paglia

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