Surviving and Thriving at the MLA Convention

If you’ve never attended the MLA convention before, or if you haven’t been to it for a few years, you might be wondering what to expect. Because of its size and the range of professional activities that occur there, the MLA convention is very different from most other academic conferences. Here are a few suggestions drawn from my experience and that of my fellow contributors at ProfHacker that can help you make the most of your time at the convention.

What to Bring

  • Your convention badge, which you should receive via postal mail a couple of weeks before the convention. If you forget or lose your badge, you will need to pay a $10.00 fee for a replacement. Once you arrive at the convention, there will be badge holders available at the registration tables and welcome centers. You need to wear your badge in order to attend most sessions and the book exhibit.
  • Shoes/boots/hat/umbrella, etc., for bad weather. Some hotels will have a check room if you want to check your coat or a bag with muddy shoes, etc. The Convention Daily list of updates (available at the welcome centers in the JW Marriott and the Austin Convention Center) will provide information about coat check locations and fees
  • Portable snacks. The convention schedule is really full and sometimes so are the cafés and restaurants near the main hotels. Having an energy bar, nuts, or dried fruit in your bag can be a useful resource, especially if you’re nervous or hurried.
  • In Getting Ready for Conferences, Mark Sample reminds us to consider various aspects of what we need to pack and bring for a conference.

Navigating the Convention

  • There are usually at least eight MLA hotels, often at some distance from each other. Wear comfortable walking shoes. The Convention Guide (available as PDF or print brochure) includes a map with all of the conference hotels.
  • The elevators, particularly in the two main venues where sessions are held, are often slow due to the large numbers of attendees. Plan extra time to get to an interview or session.
  • If you will be interviewing while at the convention, you will probably be told you will either “look us up at the Job Information Center” or “we are in Dr. John Doe’s room at the Hotel X.” Since room numbers are not assigned until a person checks in, you will need to obtain room numbers on site. Keep in mind that hotel operators cannot give out room numbers. One way to find the room number is to visit the Job Information Center at the Hilton Austin (Governor’s Ballroom, level 4). Here, MLA staff members will have room numbers for many departments that are conducting interviews in a hotel room and table numbers for all departments that are conducting interviews in the Job Center’s interview area.
  • Not all schools use the Job Information Center, so don’t rely on it if you haven’t been told to check there. In such a case, before your interview, you need to call the front desk of that hotel to be connected to the room of your contact person. When s/he answers, identify yourself and ask for the room number. (Most hotels have house phones available in the lobby that you can use for this purpose.) A flyer with additional information, including telephone numbers for all convention hotels, will be available at MLA convention registration desks and in the Job Center.

Attending and Presenting at Sessions

  • Before you arrive at the convention, take some time to browse through the convention program, available in a print form (as an issue of PMLA), online, and as a mobile app, and choose a few sessions in advance that you want to attend. Note down the session number, hotel, and room number.
  • Convention sessions are typically held in two of the main venues. Sessions now include a variety of formats, such as roundtables and poster sessions, as well as conventional three-speaker panels.
  • Try to arrive a few minutes early, as some sessions fill up quickly.
  • Brian Croxall’s suggestions on Attending A Conference Productively include advice about preparing your presentation, being a responsible copanelist, and how to introduce yourself to people you meet.
  • Erin Templeton’s post How to Deliver an Effective Conference Paper offers excellent tips for preparing your reading copy and practicing your delivery.
  • If you’re presenting or moderating a panel, I suggested some Best Practices for Timekeeping at Conference Panels.

Connecting with People

  • There are lots of opportunities at the MLA convention to meet people who share your interests. Because there will be thousands of people attending the convention, whatever steps you can take to connect with people before you arrive will make it easier when you’re there. That might mean arranging to meet a friend for lunch or dinner on a certain day; e-mailing someone who’s giving a talk on a topic related to your own work to say you’re looking forward to that session; or joining in the preconference conversation on Twitter (follow hashtag #MLA16).
  • If you feel a bit nervous or socially awkward, just remember that many of the other people attending MLA feel exactly the same way. Being the first person to say something can be an act of social generosity.
  • If you’re a graduate student, be sure to check out the list of panels and gatherings of interest to graduate students.
  • As Brian puts it, “Plan meals or coffee breaks with the interesting people that you know you want to catch up with so you make sure that it will happen” while also leaving space in your schedule for serendipity. You never know who you’ll run into in a crowded hotel lobby.

Self-Care

  • Pace yourself. Don’t try to attend every panel session in a given day. It’s OK (recommended, even!) to go out for a walk or back to your room for some quiet time.
  • Take care of your body: fit in some exercise, a bath, or a nap. (Or the self-care trifecta of all three!) Research some dining options online before you arrive so that you’ll know where to go when you walk out of your hotel for dinner. Heather Whitney offers A Few Strategies for Eating Well at Conferences.
  • Drink more water. Dry winter air and overheated hotel rooms can rapidly dehydrate you, leading to headaches and mental fatigue.
  • Do whatever will make you feel relaxed: if that’s going out with your grad school pals or sitting in your hotel room watching TV, then do it.

For all kinds of reasons, there’s nothing quite like the MLA convention. Plan a little before you arrive, get involved, and enjoy yourself!

Lists of Sessions on Various Topics, 2016

Lists of recommended sessions and resources relating to particular topics at the 2016 MLA Annual Convention in Austin appear below. They have been provided by MLA members and committees, as well as by MLA staff members. We welcome additional submissions for inclusion. Please note that the MLA is not responsible for content from outside sources. If you have a list of sessions you’d like to submit for consideration, please e-mail the MLA Commons team.

Sessions Relating to the Presidential Theme, Literature and Its Publics

Sessions Sponsored by the Association of Departments of English (ADE)

Sessions Sponsored by the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages (ADFL)

Sessions of Interest to Community College Faculty Members (Committee on Community Colleges)

Events of Interest to Graduate Student Members (Committee on the Status of Graduate Students in the Profession)

Sessions on Careers (Connected Academics)

Sessions of Potential Interest to Contingent Faculty Members (Committee on Contingent Labor in the Profession)

19th-Century Panels at MLA 16 (The Hoarding)

Children’s Literature and Comics/Graphic Novels at MLA 2016 (Philip Nel)

Unofficial MLA 2016 List of “Digital Humanities” Sessions (Crowdsourced by Mark Sample)

Book History / Bibliography / Pedagogy / &C Sessions at #MLA16 (Of Pilcrows)

Disability Studies Sessions at #MLA16 (Adam P. Newman)

Special Events at the Harry Ransom Center

Have you scheduled time to visit the Harry Ransom Center during the MLA convention? Two events at the Harry Ransom Center are open to MLA convention attendees. Space is limited for both events; see below for details and contact information.

Evening Reception at the Harry Ransom Center
Thursday, 7 January, 7:00–9:00 p.m., Harry Ransom Center, 21st and Guadalupe Streets, on the campus of the University of Texas, Austin.

Please join the Harry Ransom Center and the Department of English at the University of Texas, Austin, for a reception, sponsored by the center and SHARP (Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing). Visit the exhibition Shakespeare in Print and Performance and speak with Ransom Center staff members and English department faculty members. Wine and light hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Please RSVP by 18 December to rsvp@hrc.utexas.edu; attendance is limited to the first five hundred attendees. Guests who RSVP will receive transportation information by e-mail the week of the reception.

D. H. Lawrence Manuscripts at the Harry Ransom Center
Friday, 8 January, 3:30–4:30 p.m., Harry Ransom Center, 21st and Guadalupe Streets, on the campus of the University of Texas, Austin.

The D. H. Lawrence Society of North America invites interested scholars to attend a presentation surveying the manuscripts by D. H. Lawrence at the Harry Ransom Center. Capacity is limited; to reserve a space, contact Nancy Paxton at nancy.paxton@nau.edu.

How to Become a Library Reader in Austin

Harry Ransom Center photo

Etchings that depict holdings from the
Ransom Center’s collections.
© Thomas McConnell Photography 2004

Austin is home to the Harry Ransom Center and the LBJ Presidential Library, two renowned research institutions housed on the campus of the University of Texas, Austin. If you wish to take advantage of their resources for some in-depth research, we encourage you to plan ahead to make the most of your experience.

Harry Ransom Center

The Harry Ransom Center’s Reading and Viewing Room will be open Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. The center expects increased usage during the MLA convention. Patrons may experience limited access to the Reading and Viewing Room and the collections, including longer than usual paging times.

Be prepared:
• Write to reference@hrc.utexas.edu before 22 December with your intended visitation date and research interest.
• Create your research account in advance. This account is required for requesting materials.
• Bring a photo ID.
• When scheduling your visit, allow time for the orientation video and for consultation with the center’s staff to help you locate materials among the collections.
• For the performing arts, film, photography, or art collections, the center recommends contacting the appropriate curator in advance.
• To place limited materials on hold, write to reference@hrc.utexas.edu no later than 23 December.
• Review the Reading and Viewing Room regulations and general visitor information before your visit.

LBJ Presidential Library

The LBJ Library Reading Room (10th floor) will be open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. There may be increased usage during the MLA convention, so it is recommended that you schedule your appointment in advance.

Items of note:
• Call the archivist on duty at 512 721-0212 to schedule an appointment.
• When scheduling your visit, allow time for the researcher orientation interview.
• Following the interview, you will receive an identification card that you should keep for all subsequent visits to the Reading Room.
• Pencils (no pens) are allowed in the Reading Room as are laptops, tablets, digital cameras, and materials provided by the LBJ Library. Other personal belongings (including notebooks, purses, and computer cases) must be stored in the lockers.
• All items entering and leaving the Reading Room must be inspected by a library employee.
• Review the Reading Room’s rules and regulations before your visit.
• For additional information, see the LBJ Presidential Library’s list of useful Web addresses.

Austin and the Arts

Join one of the MLA’s cultural excursions and go behind the scenes of some of Austin’s cultural gems, then return to the convention refreshed and renewed for more fascinating sessions and networking opportunities. Sign up when you register for the convention, or you can write to Michael Reilly if you have already registered.

Austin Music Scene

Go behind the scenes at one of Austin’s renowned music venues, ACL Live at the Moody Theater, home of Austin City Limits, the longest- running music performance show in television history. Explore the backstage hallways, hiding spots, green rooms, sound booths, and stage, while guides recount stories and anecdotes about the theater and the legends who left their marks. Then join Scott Newton, ACL’s staff photographer for over forty years, as he fleshes out the stories behind the photographs that line the walls.

Presidential Collections

Photographs, film footage, political cartoons, posters, letters, paintings, sculptures, furniture, books and journals, and many other artifacts from Lyndon Baines Johnson’s life and presidency are on display at the LBJ Presidential Library. Join the library’s archivists for a private viewing of a selection of telephone conversations, documents, photographs, and other materials and learn about the history of the library and the resources and reference materials available. Curator Michael McDonald will provide an introduction to the museum and an overview of what to expect as you tour the exhibits. You’ll be free to explore the galleries at your own pace, and docents will be available throughout to provide assistance and additional information.

Art through the Ages

Gothic bible illustrations, paintings and drawings from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, and twentieth-century multimedia artworks from North, South, and Central America are represented at the Blanton Museum of Art. Join one of the museum’s educators for a private tour created just for MLA members and based on the 2016 presidential theme, Literature and Its Publics: Past, Present, and Future. The tour will include a visit to the Print Room, where specialist Kristin Holder will have a special display of pieces from the museum’s collection of works on paper that are not currently on view to the public.

Arts on Paper

Although both MLA excursions to the Harry Ransom Center are currently sold out, there is still availability on the waiting lists. The Harry Ransom Center is an internationally renowned humanities research library and museum at the University of Texas, Austin. This two-part excursion pairs a special look at highlights from the literary collections, including works from Jorge Luis Borges, J. M. Coetzee, Radclyffe Hall, Doris Lessing, and David Foster Wallace, with a curator-led tour of the exhibition Shakespeare in Print and Performance.

 

 

Welcome to the 2016 Convention!

Photo credit: Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Photo credit: Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Everything’s bigger in Texas—the 2016 convention in Austin certainly is. The Program Committee received more special-session proposals this spring than it has in over a dozen years. We have more than 840 sessions and events on the Program (with over 3,600 participants), and more than 300 address the presidential theme, Literature and Its Publics: Past, Present, and Future.

The scheduled convention activities will keep you busy, but be sure to take time to experience all the city of Austin has to offer. Great restaurants and food trucks abound—and barbecue’s just the beginning. Music can be found on almost every street, with over 250 live music venues offering everything from rock to country, indie to Tejano. Austin natives and fans, we’re counting on you to post your favorites, edible and musical, on MLA Commons.

Join the 2016 MLA Convention group and create a group or blog for your session. Take advantage of the opportunity to begin a conversation online.

Convention sessions are put together by members, from special sessions proposed by individuals to forum and committee sessions developed by groups of members to sessions sponsored by allied organizations that are arranged by members as well. You and your colleagues have created a great convention—register today and come take part in it!

Photo credit: Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Photo credit: Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Karin

Karin Bagnall
Head of MLA Convention Programs

Live-Tweeting the MLA: Suggested Practices

The MLA has been a pioneering academic organization in embracing Twitter. Since 2007 the so-called “conference back channel” has been growing considerably. Adoption of Twitter amongst scholars and students seems on the rise as well, and reporting live from the conference is no longer an underground, parallel activity but pretty much a recognized, encouraged aspect of the event.

“It’s a conversation, not a lecture,” I wrote in a blog post for the Guardian Higher Education Network back in September 2011. By February 2013 I had to reconsider my position: Twitter adoption by scholars had grown so much that it became important for me to discuss how the platform required “more fluid rules of academic engagement.”  I also shared (back in 2012) some tips for live-tweeting from conferences. It makes me happy to know that these posts have been shared so many times on Twitter that the Guardian’s share widget counters have been restarted several times.

For me what remains key is that live-tweeting is essentially a form of reporting, networking and dissemination. For MLA members, it is a way of engaging with the MLA convention, which is of course a real life event. Live-tweeting is a form of broadcasting content, but is also a form of research (what you tweet is likely to be studied by someone else, and you might be tweeting as part of your research). It is most definitely a form of public dissemination that allows scholars to be present and visible in the convention even when they are not physically there. It’s always important to remember that the hashtag for the convention is not only for those attending in person.

Live-tweeting is always subject to context. Tweeting itself is all about context awareness in a way. The MLA convention is Twitter-friendly, and this is a great start. It means you are not being revolutionary for tweeting during the conference. It means there will be Wi-Fi available, and hopefully there will be plenty of places to charge your devices so you don’t run out of battery. It means you are not likely to be asked to put your phone or your laptop away. And this, for me, is a truly positive, exciting thing.

Before you navigate away, here are some practices I suggest based on my experience as a keen live-tweeter. There is nothing written in stone here. These tips might or might not work for you—your own way might be better. These suggestions are meant to be read like “notes to self”: it’s not me telling you what to do; it’s me telling myself out loud what has worked for me in the past and what I strive to do.

  • Read other resources, such as Roopika Risam’s excellent Quick Guide to Using Twitter at the MLA Convention.
  • Let others know who you are. If you are new to Twitter, and even if you aren’t, ensure your Twitter profile includes information about who you are (role, affiliation, interests) and a link to a web page with more information about you or your work.
  • Be recognizable. If you are going to the convention, it helps if your Twitter profile picture has an image of what you look like now—it facilitates real life networking and helps avoid that always-embarrassing Looking-Down-to-Read-Name-Tag-Closely thing. You can always change your profile photo to something else after the conference. Having a default egg profile pic is always a no-no.
  • #Metadata means you are discoverable. Always use the hashtag when discussing anything related to the conference. Make sure you are using the right hashtag. The hashtag for this year is #MLA15. So far it’s worked well; let’s hope no one else (like a video game or something) uses it. Since things can change, check the convention Web site or ask someone if you don’t know what the correct or main hashtag is. MLA sessions also have their own specific hashtags: “#s” followed by the session number (e.g., #s421). It’s OK to use both hashtags in that case, even if it reduces your number of characters. Hashtags are folksonomies and therefore are really hard to control, so one needs to be attentive.
  • Start tweeting with #MLA15 now. If you haven’t, you are already late. Interact with fellow attendants in advance; arrange meetings. Don’t be a stranger.
  • Be positive. Venting creates community amongst people who agree with your experience, but it can also equally alienate others. Formative, positive feedback will always be preferable. Life is short: unless some kind of major academic crime has been committed that you strongly feel must be publicly denounced, some opinions are better not tweeted. It’s all about moderation. This is, of course, not saying “don’t be critical.” You should be critical ethically and professionally. You want to make friends, connections, maybe get that job.
  • Remember, the World Wide Web is called so for a reason. The whole point of tweeting is that it is public and international. There will be people following you from different countries and different time zones. Not everyone will know/understand what you are tweeting about or even be able to infer your context, no matter how obvious it might be to you. Think globally; tweet accordingly.
  • Bring your laptop, not just your phone. To tweet from sessions, nothing beats a proper keyboard. It means you can search for information as you are hearing the talks and share relevant links in your tweets. Second best option is a tablet, like an iPad (some use external keyboards for those). It also means you can use TweetDeck (sadly not available on mobile anymore) to follow easily the main hashtags and key users. To tweet on the go, a mobile app on your phone or tablet is definitely better. 😉
  • Use columns to follow the main hashtags and key users. Many of us find it hard to type and follow busy back channels on smaller screens. The Twitter mobile app and the Twitter web client are not good options to monitor the back channel appropriately. On your mobile phone, apps like Hootsuite allow you to set up columns where you can follow the main hashtags and even key accounts. This will help you to be on top of things and not miss out.
  • Set your sound notifications off. You are likely to get a lot of them if you are actively live-tweeting and using the hashtag. Respect others. Type silently. A mobile phone should never ring or make any sounds in a convention room.
  • Share links to relevant academic articles and calls for papers. You know those tables where all the colorful calls for papers and announcements are left for you to pick up? Twitter is very effective for this. Twitter is not just for chatting; it is more effective to promote this kind of academic stuff. You have your target audience there, so share, share, share.
  • It’s not all about you (and it is). Having a dedicated column to follow the hashtag will make it easy for you to see what is being tweeted. You are likely to see that many others are tweeting from the same session, saying more or less the same. Avoid duplication and unnecessary repetition by not live-tweeting everything yourself. When promoting links, sessions, etc., don’t promote only your work: promote the work of others as well. No one likes shameless self-promoters who don’t care about others. On Twitter every time you promote someone else’s work, you are promoting yourself (your name and profile picture will be there), so it’s a win-win.
  • Attribute. When live-tweeting from a session, make sure it’s clear who is saying what. Are you paraphrasing? Are they your ideas or the speaker’s? Use reported speech conventions. Find Twitter user names of the speakers in advance. If you are reporting what a speaker with a Twitter user name said, @ mention them, but make sure it does not look like you are just replying to them personally.
  • Report spam. The hashtag is the equivalent of a “room” hosting a community. There is likely to be spam again this year. The only effective way of combatting spam is being careful about who we engage with, who we retweet, what applications we have connected our Twitter profiles with (check https://twitter.com/settings/applications for this), and, importantly, blocking and reporting for spam. Block and report for spam each spam tweet you come across. It won’t go away if you ignore it. And if you can’t tell the difference between a real user and a spambot, that real user has a problem…
  • Socialize sensibly. Social media can include as much as exclude. Make sure you are cautious about how you come across: does it look like you are showing off that you are in an exclusive party where other mere mortals are not invited? If it’s not public, do not publicize. If you are there, be there. No need to be tweeting all the time. Switch off your phone and enjoy the conversation with your peers right there.
  • Ask before tweeting. Finally, never underestimate diversity. If you are with a group of people and are unsure if it’s OK to mention them in a Twitter update, hashtagged or not, always ask. I know this is not always practical. Just think that when in doubt, it is always safer not to tweet than to tweet. If you are amongst fellow keen tweeterers, it might not be necessary, but you never know. Same goes for photos of identifiable people. People have a right to privacy.
  • If you don’t want your paper live-tweeted, don’t present it. The above notwithstanding, when people are speaking publicly (keynote, panel, workshop, etc.), it is fair to assume they are happy to be publicized. If you want your presentation or work to remain embargoed, it might be better not to present it in public in any form. Speakers should be grateful their work is being promoted, for free, by their colleagues, sometimes en masse (as far as academia goes, that is). Work unknown is work that doesn’t exist.
  • Don’t drink and tweet. Most of us have done it once in while, but it’s a recipe for disaster.
  • Have fun. It’s not that complicated. In a way it’s a shame we need this kind of advice. But social media is not all fun and games; it can really get you in a lot of trouble. It is a professional activity now. Tweeting with the convention hashtag means you are participating publicly in the conference. You will be assessed on how you behave online. This doesn’t mean it’s not about having fun—just think before you tweet…

Academic conferencing is changing. The world is wide, and the challenges and opportunities are equally huge. Let’s make the most of the means we have available to us.

 

MLA Commons at the Convention

On Saturday, January 10, starting at 10:30 a.m., MLA members will discuss some of the ways in which they have made use of MLA Commons, the association’s social network and collaboration platform. From facilitating scholarly conversation after the convention to enabling the submission of article and chapter drafts for peer review, the Commons offers a range of possibilities for MLA members to strengthen ties and create a sense of community. Come listen to your colleagues talk about their experience with the Commons; then drill Nicky Agate, the managing editor of the Commons, and Chris Zarate, its technical lead, about what the platform can do for you.

Friday, January 9
MLA PubCentral, Vancouver Convention Centre (Prefunction level 1, West Building)

2:00 p.m. Ray Siemens, Literary Studies in the Digital Age
“Using MLA Commons for Peer Review and Publication”

 

Saturday, January 10
MLA PubCentral, Vancouver Convention Centre (Prefunction level 1, West Building)

10:30 a.m. Andrea Kaston Tange, Class in the Academy
“How to Spark Pre-convention Conversation with the Commons
12:30 p.m. Abby Goode, Sustainability and Population in American Literary History
“Using MLA Commons to Extend the Life of Your Convention Session”
1:30 p.m. Dawn Childress, Libraries and Research in Languages and Literatures
MLA Commons for Your Division or Discussion Group”
2:30 p.m. Thomas Lawrence Long, Literature, Medicine, Medical Humanities
“Creating a Commons Space for Your Special Interest Group”

An MLA Member’s Guide to Foodie Vancouver

Vancouver is one of those cities where people ski and sail on the same day. If you are visiting Vancouver for the first time, be prepared for our misty winter weather (as well as great fish and seafood). Vancouverites take heart in our weather: what falls as light rain in the city also falls as snow in the mountains, which you will see directly across from the Convention Centre. With luck, we’ll score some sunny days, and you’ll get to see those mountains glow.

If you can take a break from MLA sessions, you may want to walk the nearly two miles from the Convention Centre along the scenic seawall that will take you around Coal Harbour to the edges of Stanley Park, one of Vancouver’s landmark destinations. For those of you looking for more urban flânerie, head in the other direction from the Convention Centre along Cordova Street and then along Water Street into Gastown, the historic heart of Vancouver, which has a mix of souvenir shops and hip independent designers and restaurants. If you have more time yet, you may want to explore Vancouver’s Chinatown, where you’ll find lively Chinese markets and the serenity of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, the first Ming Dynasty scholars’ garden built outside China (578 Carrall Street).

Even if you don’t have time for an urban walk, you will need to eat. And Vancouver is very much a foodie city: its restaurants offer modern twists and fusions of traditional Asian and European cuisines.  Below is a list of dining recommendations in four areas in downtown, starting with affordable, cheerful establishments closer to the Convention Centre and then listing restaurants that are farther away (some a bit pricier).

Near the Convention Centre

At the Waterfront Centre across from the Convention Centre you will find Subway, Tim Hortons (a Canadian staple known for its donuts and coffee, which also serves sandwiches and soups), and Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar. There is also a food court inside the Waterfront Centre.  For something a bit more upscale, you will find the Cactus Club Café, one of several in Vancouver (1085 Canada Pl.; 604 620-7410).

Nearby, try the Lions Pub (888 W. Cordova St.; 604 488-8602) and Freshii (870 W. Cordova St.; 604 566-9952), which has fresh sandwiches, wraps, salads, and breakfast, or Hapa Izakaya (909 W. Cordova; 604 420-4272). Downtown Vancouver is also home to a chain of much loved, inexpensive Japanese izakaya restaurants called Guu, which features Japanese “tapas” and plates for sharing. The closest one to the Convention Centre is Kitanoya Guu with Otokame in Gastown (375 Water St.; 604 685-8682). Word from the foodie: “Everything is amazing but try the fried chicken.”

For pricier but memorable Japanese food with a fabulous view, try Miku, across from the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, in Granville Square. Advice from a serious foodie friend: “Go during lunchtime—it’s a little cheaper—and get the Miku Zen box. It’s the best value, and you get a feel for what the restaurant can really do.”

And not to be ignored: the best gelato in Vancouver is at Bella Gelateria (1001 W. Cordova St.).

Near the Convention Centre: Three Splurges

Three outstanding restaurants with prizewinning chefs are a within a mile of the Convention Centre and thus a short cab ride away (caveat emptor: these restaurants are on the pricey side):

Market, in the Shangri-la Hotel (1128 W. Georgia St.; 604 695-1115), is Jean-George Vongerichten’s signature restaurant in Vancouver.

Hawksworth, in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, is one of the premier restaurants in Canada, and its chef, David Hawksworth, has won many awards (801 W. Georgia St.; 604 673-7000)—the Hawksworth also has one of the best cocktail bars in the city.

Yew Seafood and Bar, in the Four Seasons Hotel, with another award-winning chef, is excellent; try the lobster poutine for a Canadian multiprovincial treat (791 W. Georgia St.; 604 692-4939).

Gastown

Moving outside the immediate area of the Convention Centre to the east, there are many restaurants to choose from in Gastown. Here are just a few, starting closest to the Convention Centre, just past the Waterfront Station and moving east:

Steamworks Brew Pub (375 Water St.)
Water Street Café (300 Water St.)
Pourhouse Restaurant (162 Water St.)
The Flying Pig Gastown (102 Water St.)
Meat & Bread—the porchetta is particularly popular (370 Cambie St.)
Jules, a French bistro, with a three-course prix fixe menu (216 Abbott St.)

Chinatown

Richmond, the suburb just south of Vancouver where the airport is located, is now home to many of the best Chinese restaurants in the Vancouver area, but there are some notable options in downtown Chinatown. Unless you are up for a 1.7 kilometer walk (just over a mile), Chinatown is a quick cab ride.

Phnom Penh looks like a dive but is an institution in Vancouver, one of the best places for Vietnamese-Cambodian food and very inexpensive. They only take reservations for parties of six or more, so grab some friends (244 E. Georgia St.; 604 682-5777).

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie has terrific Chinese food. No reservations except for Family Table, which features a multiple-course tasting for parties of 8–10 and is $35 Canadian dollars per person—a bargain! (163 Keefer St.; 604 688-0876).

… and beyond Chinatown

Landmark Hot Pot House: Take the Canada Line to the King Edward stop.  This is a popular Chinese hotpot restaurant (4023 Cambie St.; 604 872-2868).

Lin Chinese Cuisine and Tea House (1537 West Broadway; 604 733-9696)

Fortune Garden, for very fine Cantonese dining (1475 West Broadway; 604 736-6868)

The West End

Vancouver is into sustainable dining, and one good example in the West End, just a quick cab ride away, is Forage, specializing in local British Columbia bounty (1300 Robson St.; 604 661-1400).

La Tavola, an Italian restaurant, has great food, a nice atmosphere, and is near the corner of Denman Street, the lively main fare through the West End that goes from English Bay down to Coal Harbour—great for an after-dinner stroll (1829 Robson St.; 604 606-4680).

The West End is also home to many great ramen restaurants:

Marutama Ramen (780 Bidwell St.; 604 688-8837)

Legendary Noodle House (1074 Denman St.; 604 669-8551)

Motomachi Shokudo (740 Denman St.; 604 669-0310)

And for dessert, try Nero Belgian Waffle Bar (1703 Robson St.).

Yaletown

Yaletown, a quick cab ride away, is home to lots of hip restaurants and small shops. Many of these restaurants are a bit pricey, but, exchange rate permitting, worth the detour, as they say in the Michelin guide. Two main streets run through Yaletown—Hamilton and Mainland—and they are both full of restaurants. Here are a few:

Rodney’s Oyster House, a casual seafood spot with a lively atmosphere (1228 Hamilton St.; 604 609-0080)

The Flying Pig Yaletown (1168 Hamilton St.; 604 568-1344)

Blue Water Café and Raw Bar is considered by many the best fish and seafood restaurant in Vancouver—great atmosphere, great raw bar, excellent fish (they also serve meat)—but it is pricey (1095 Hamilton St.; 604 688-8078).

Under the Bridge: Granville Island

Granville Island, a ten-minute cab ride away, is actually not an island but a former industrial area below the Granville Street bridge. This is definitely a place to visit if you have time. It is home to a terrific market with great produce, bakeries, and exotic foods (like Seattle’s Pike Place market but bigger). There is a great open area behind the market with views onto marinas and the whole downtown. The market is open during the day. Some of the highlights for grazers include the Stock Market (terrific hot soups), Lee’s (old-fashioned donuts done right), and Granville Island Tea (tea by the cup and countless loose-leaf teas to buy). There are theaters on Granville Island, the Granville Island Brewery (tasting lounge and retail), lots of little art galleries, jewelers and local craftspeople, as well as the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Plus, there are restaurants—just have a cab take you into the island and drop you off at the restaurant. It is not necessary to give the driver a street address since no one knows the street names except for the postal carriers.

Bridges, a popular waterfront spot with a seafood-focused menu and an upper dining room, bistro, bar, and patio (604 687-4400)

The Sandbar, a seafood hot spot with sushi made to order and live music nightly (604 669-9030)

Across the Bridge: Kitsilano

For those who want to go farther afield, a cab ride will take you across the Burrard Street bridge into Kitsilano, where the two main streets are Fourth Avenue and Broadway (the equivalent of Ninth Street). The number 22 bus will also take you up Burrard; ask the driver to let you off at Fourth Avenue and walk west. This is the side of the water where the University of British Columbia is located and where local academics are more likely to eat. Kitsilano offers lots of variety. All the restaurants listed below are quite small, so reservations are necessary, especially on weekends.

Maenam—this is the best and most inventive Thai restaurant in Vancouver. The award-winning chef, Angus An, prepares a five-course chef’s tasting menu that is the best deal in town (1938 West Fourth Ave.; 604 730-5579).

Fable (“farm to table”), a great example of local sustainable cooking—next door to Maenam (1944 West Fourth Ave.; 604 732-1322)

La Cigale French Bistro, friendly, authentic French bistro food—across from Fable (1961 West Fourth Ave.; 604 732-0004)

BiBo Pizzeria con Cucina, an Italian restaurant featuring wood-fired pies and handmade pastas in a comfy atmosphere—close to Burrard Street (1835 West Fourth Ave.; 604 568-6177)

The Farmer’s Apprentice, a minimalist, farm-to-table eatery serving organic wine and contemporary Pacific Northwest meals—take a cab for this one (1535 West Sixth Ave.; 604 620-2070)

Thai Cuisine by MontriMontri was the first great Thai chef in Vancouver, and after returning to Thailand for several years, he is now back. His food is wonderful. You will need a cab unless you want to try the Vancouver bus system (2585 West Broadway; 604 221-9599).

Other Locations

Main Street. There are lots of little restaurants along Main Street in the 20s blocks (a fifteen-minute cab ride away). A personal favorite is The French Table (3916 Main St.; 604 689-3237), which is an authentic French bistro, complete with French waiters who have been at this for years and are straight from central casting. Ask for a glass of Aligoté wine, which comes from the vineyards of Hervé’s (the owner’s) sister.

Commercial Drive. A fifteen-minute cab ride away, this multicultural, countercultural strip in East Vancouver boasts small restaurants that include everything from Salvadoran to Tunisian food. Just walk down “the Drive” and pick one.

Food Trucks. Finally, Vancouver is home to a lively food truck culture. Look for them all over downtown. They are perfect for when you are—literally—on the run. Try streetfoodapp.com/vancouver to find trucks nearby.

Bon appétit!

Presenting at the 2015 Convention in Vancouver?

Whether this year’s convention presentation will be your first or your hundredth, here are a few tips to make it your best yet:

  • Don’t read your paper. Looking down and reading a paper that was written to be read rather than heard is a sure way to make your audience disengage.
  • Plan for accessibility. Give your audience the tools they need in order to engage with your work. Post your presentation on MLA Commons ahead of time, bring large-print copies of your presentation and visual materials, and make sure projected images will be easily legible from the back of the room. Briefly describe the materials for any attendees who are visually impaired (accessibility guidelines are available here).
  • Use interesting visuals. Avoid filling the screen with bullet points that mirror what you’re saying.
  • Engage with your fellow presenters. Find ways to connect your presentation with those of your fellow panelists.
  • Respect the time limit. Exceeding the time allotted for your presentation leaves less time for questions and discussion, and may even cut into your fellow panelists’ presentation time. Practice in advance to ensure that your prepared materials leave you with a minute or so to spare. That way, you have a cushion to deal with any technical issues or to make spontaneous comments.