This is the first post in a short series about my trip to Melbourne last week to attend a conference, Television and the National, hosted by La Trobe University at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).
Before getting into the conference proper, I feel the need to talk a bit about what was going on in Brisbane last week too. Then I'll finish off with some things I did in Melbourne, which are not about the conference.
I left for Melbourne last Tuesday morning the 18th of November. Leaving on Tuesday meant that I could go and see Laura's paper which she delivered on Monday evening: 'Warming the imagination with scenes of the past': Time Travel romances about Jane Austen.
It's always a thrill to see someone you know from outside of academe talking about the research they do within academe. You get to see them in full, passionate scholar mode talking about something they really know and care about. I am not especially knowledgeable about the works of Jane Austen, I could only marvel at Laura's command of a whole range of literature, to which she casually referred throughout her presentation. Where I could get some purchase, if you will, was in her discussion of all the time travel fan-fiction that has proliferated around Austen and her works. I enjoyed Laura's identification of this sub-genre of Austen-derived fiction and I appreciated that while some of the novels she discussed are obviously fairly untenable, she takes seriously the phenomenon--and those who participate in it--as an expression of a broader cultural moment.
While I went off to Melbourne, I hoped that Laura would enjoy her first visit to Brisbane. At the beginning of her paper she had mentioned being attacked by a goose at the St Lucia campus of UQ (perhaps it was this one), but who was to know that would be the least of her worries as storms hit Brisbane causing widespread flooding and destruction? On the Sunday before I left for Melbourne a storm had ripped through the suburbs uncomfortably close to me:
On the Friday morning I was away, I was listening to news that reported the suburb I lived in was under water. I got a bit worried, especially when I heard about Ithaca Creek spilling its banks and cars floating down the streets:
I made a call to the property manager and left a message asking for reassurance that I still had a home, but then I had to take a deep breath, accept I could do nothing, and go and give my paper.
Thankfully, miraculously, the only evidence of the storm I could see around my home when I returned was a tree branch on the ground and some mud where the water had flowed through underneath the house. Everything inside was warm and dry.
The view from the bridge I walk across on a daily basis to catch the bus and go shopping tells a more dramatic story:
My street is just on the other side of the right bank there, so you can see why I was worried from afar given the water seems to have come up over the ravine.