Con Law Camp Rocks
I presented today. I rocked. My presentation was clear (enough) and I had some interesting questions and ideas that sparked a good deal of discussion. My colleagues gave me excellent feedback, drawing on their many different disciplines and levels of experience. And the more I do these things, the more confident I become about my own scholarly abilities. I used to have insomnia and nausea before presenting. Now I am much more zen about the entire process. I find that with each conference, I get less freaked out about the things that used to plague me: presenting ideas clearly, presenting arguments cogently, and most importantly--speaking slowly. When I speak in public, I speak at a relatively normal, slow-to-me pace. This may surprise people who know me and who have spoken to me for more than one minute. No one said "huh?" the way they usually do when talking to me casually.
I wish I could say more about this, but this is all I can say: Con Law Camp is a very fun and worthwhile experience. It is especially helpful in the early writing stages. Workshops are generally for "works-in-progress" in which you want to refine your paper and get some editorial constructive criticism before you submit to a journal. That's when you want more "eyes." If you are in the early stages and want some feedback about "ideas" and "pick some brains," then a more conversational, roundtable workshop is much better.
Moreover, you get feedback that is much more useful, and this is due to the conversational nature of the conference. I can't think of a person here who "lectured" his or her paper. It was very much more dialogic, with idea presentment-response-re-response. That to me is much more valuable than the traditional way of presenting a paper and taking questions that might not give you much new direction. Most conferences are more about networking than workshopping, being one or at most, one and a half day affairs with more happy hours and dinners than actual session time. Moreover, most conferences are big, drift-in-and-out things where you can pick and choose which panels to attend, and so there isn't a sustained conversation. When you have more than a few days, it's a very nice pace of conversation--ideas presented in the beginning are able to be further developed by the end. Having a few more days also lets you have a more deeper collegial interaction. I think that's important for scholars--not just to meet-and-greet their colleagues in the field, but to have a deeper intellectual interaction with them.
If you write in the area, email me and if I trust your non-outing bona fides, I'll tell you which summer camp I attended and how to apply.