I returned yesterday from ten days spent in Atlanta to attend the Evangelical Theological Society and the Society of Biblical Literature yearly meetings. I am not a member of the ETS anymore, but since I could stay in Atlanta with my in-laws, I decided to attend to see some friends and go to some sessions. Given time and financial constraints, I don’t attend these meetings every year. Last one was in Boston in 2008. Some thoughts on the 2010 editions.
Though I have several opportunities to go to professional conferences every year, I don’t actually often attend them. One reason is that I have to pay for them. When you factor in travel, hotel, expenses, etc., it gets quite expensive. Another reason is that I sometimes wonder whether they are really worth the time and expense.
Granted, there are several good arguments for attending professional conferences like the SBL: networking, meeting people, the book stalls, … the tote bag. One paramount reason should be to attend or present papers. The problem is, unless you are a star in the theological world or/and pushing the fashionable hot buttons, most papers are very poorly attended. In the case of the SBL this probably also has to do with the overabundance of study groups, sessions, papers, and what not. All this put together, I don’t really try to present papers in conferences anymore (not counting the largely irrelevant fact that my proposal might be rejected of course). I’d rather put the time in writing.