Conferences: Formal Presentations

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Posted by Steve PRice on January 11, 1999 at 06:27:32:

Dear Friends,

The formal presentations part of a rug conference, consisting of lectures, panel discussions and poster presentations, is always the main subject of the program, and seems to me to generate the most vocal criticism after the conference ends. We whould recognize that different conferences have different goals, and this is reflected in different presentation formats.

The Textile Museum's Annual Rug Convention (Washington, DC) is a two day event, one full day being devoted to formal lectures. These conventions are aimed at providing education for collectors (actual and potential), and the speakers are selected and invited by an organizing committee that attempts to make the entire sequence a coherent treatment of a particular topic (i.e., tribal, Turkmen, Chinese, etc.). There are generally only about six speakers. By the nature of the selection process, they tend to be good lecturers and this part of most Textile Museum Conventions is pretty successful. At least, I have never come back from one without feeling like I knew a lot mroe about the subject than I did beforehand.

ACOR is held every second year, and is basically intended to provide an opportunity for rug enthusiasts to meet and share their neuroses. The formal presentations are lectures and panel discussions, the presenters selected by an organizing committee from submitted proposals. The selections are made with the objective of generating interesting discussions and showing lots of actual textiles. New scholarly findings are not given high priority, as this is not a priority for most collectors. The successes of the presentations vary greatly. This usually reflects varying public speaking skills among the presenters.

ICOC meets every third year, and attempts to focus upon new scholarship. Formal presentations consist of lectures illustrated with slides, and poster presentations. The organizing committee (they refer to it as something like the "Academic Organizing Committee") selects presenters on the basis of submitted abstracts of proposed talks. The ICOC presentations are probably the least successful of the three major rug conferences. This reflects several factors. One is the variable speaking skills of presenters, another is the generally low quality of what passes for scholarship in this field, a third is that most collectors really aren't interested in the kind of narrowly focused topics that scholarship demands.

At least, that's how I see it.

Steve Price

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