March 29, 2010
Professor Joseph Lam's AAS blog
Joseph S.C. Lam is the director of Confucius Institute at the University of Michigan and professor of musicology, U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance. Like Professor Gallagher, he also agreed to guest blog from the Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting 2010. We thank Professor Lam for his generosity of time and attention.
Attending the first panel organized by a recently graduated UM student of mine, and realizing how well she presented her paper, I suddenly felt a sense of pride, which triggered many AAS memories. I first attended conference in the late 80s, and thus this meeting in Philly was one of many that I attended. Looking at my student, her panelists and one of the discussants who happened to be students of an elder academic brother, I saw their young faces, followed their creative ideas, and felt their scholarly energies. I wonder if I appeared like that to my mentors who attended my first AAS presentations, sitting in the first rows, and providing me with reassurance. Then I missed my mentors and old friends, some of them had passed away, and some could no longer travel. I left the panel with a heart heavy with thoughts about the passing of time and the changing of scholarly generations; there in those long corridors of scholarly, I was unexpectedly greeted by former colleagues and fellow scholars whom I had never met. It was nice to learn that the colleagues were all doing well, advancing their careers, and enjoying their lives--remodeling of their homes, their kids going to utopian colleges; some even had paired up with new spouses/partners. It was also reassuring to learn that fellow scholars still read my old and new publications, and found my theories and facts useful--I am sure some said nice things just to make me feel good, or to start a stimulating conversation! Then, I asked myself if I had been nice to people too? Did I criticize that and that papers too harshly? I knew I did not mean to be harsh--I am a nice guy. With a few poorly chosen words or turns of phrases, however, my questions hurled at the paper presenters could be construed as "unnecessarily harsh," if not hostile! I could only comfort myself by telling myself that I would be more friendly with the other paper presenters--I had to live with my academic faux pas. With such thoughts, I walked past the crowd and through the hotel lobby to the mundane world that unfolded along the streets outside the hotel. Quite a few time, I wanted to stop so that I could greet this or that friends, and to seize the moment. I refrained myself from doing that. I could not and would not stop the academic world from spinning. I would like to see more young and creative scholars taking center stage. I needed fresh air before I could engage with another academic debate.
Posted by zzhu at March 29, 2010 04:33 PM