Next Hemingway Conference: Paris July 22-28, 2018

I know it is way early, but I’ve started to think a little bit about the next International Conference of the Hemingway Society. The Call for Papers has gone out, with proposals due by August 30, 2017, so I want to spend some time this spring and summer thinking of what I want to write about.

The last time the Society was in Paris was in 1994, jointly with the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society. Of course, both Hemingway and Fitzgerald have associations with Paris and France in general. My memories of the 1994 conference are very positive: Ernest’s son Gregory unveiling a plaque on the Rue Cardinal Lemoine at the flat that Ernest and Hadley lived in when he was a struggling artist; a reception at the American Embassy, hosted by US Ambassador Pamela Harriman; the paper sessions at the American University; a river boat cruise for a dinner; a walking tour of some of the Hemingway haunts; Luis Kinnamon taking us to the Algerian neighbourhood for some couscous; and much more.

It was at that 1994 conference, too, that I delivered my first paper at a Hemingway conference. I had participated in seminar discussions at the previous two, in Boston (1990) and Pamplona (1992). But for this one, my dad and I had spent some time co-writing a paper that compared Camus’s The Stranger with Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms – and then both to the Bible, at least to make one point. When it came to it, dad did not make the trip, but Deborah and I did, so I delivered the paper for both of us. I’ve given a paper at every one of the biennial conferences since then, except for the 2008 version in Kansas City.

More on the conference as my paper proposal comes to me, and then next year as the trip begins to take shape.

Hemingway Conference June 15-22, 2012

I just recently returned from the Central U.S., where I attended the International Hemingway Conference.

My route went through Chicago, which I chose over Detroit because a) everybody raves about Chicago, and b) Chicago suburb Oak Park is where Ernest Hemingway was born.

The Hotel Carleton (yes, with an “e” – to distinguish from the “Carlton”, no doubt) was very nice, and the neighbourhoods of Oak Park were very European-feeling: lots of cobblestones, pedestrian walkways, small shops, and a generally good vibe.

On Saturday morning, I walked to the Hemingway Museum, which is in the old Arts museum. There, I was in for a pleasant surprise: the woman at the gift shop insisted that she pays the entrance fee for anyone who teaches Hemingway! So, I got in for free, and the ticket was good for a tour of the “birth home”, too.

It is a pretty good museum, with lots of displays to get a sense of different stages of EH’s life.

After the museum, I wandered past the birth house to spend some time before the next tour. I walked a few blocks to the “boyhood house” – the one the family had built in 1906. On my way back to the birth house, I walked past Frank Lloyd Wright’s house and studio – apparently, he designed a number of the homes in the neighbourhood.

Then I left for downtown Chicago on the metro train, or the “El”. Once downtown, my main goal was to see some of the architecture that made up the Chicago skyline, and to head to the Field Museum to see the lions of the Tsavo – the ones that the movie The Ghost and the Darkness is based on. There were young people walking by in groups of 4-5, and I wondered if I had stumbled onto the last day of classes or something; turned out there was a concert at Soldier Field, so they were all heading in the same direction I was (Soldier Field is right next to the Field Museum).

Next day I headed out of Chicago and towards Michigan, totally forgetting there was a piece of Indiana in between. I stopped frequently on the Michigan freeway, which had a number of inviting rest stops along it. The speed limit was 70 miles per hour, so I made pretty good time, but it was a long way up to Petoskey. Interesting to speculate on the Hemingway family making their way from Oak Park in the summers with all their kids. Apparently, they took the boat from Chicago to one of the ports on the Michigan side, then took the train in to Petoskey. The family cabin was a few miles away at Walloon Lake.

Petoskey, and its neighbouring community of Bay View which is where the conference was held, certainly was not rustic “cabin country” – there is, and has been, a lot of money here!

How good it was to re-connect with old colleagues, some of whom we first met back in 1992. Of course, they all asked about Deborah and the boys – it is rare for me to travel to these conferences without an entourage! And how good it was to “unplug” from administrative duties and concentrate on literature. I went to several good paper sessions and presentations, met some new folks, and my paper went well, too.