Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Inaugural Salon Success

By Lori Brister

We're not putting ourselves at the level of Auden or Williams, but...
okay, maybe we are saying that (at least in our capacity for salons).

You may have heard that the Summer Salon Series had its inaugural event just a couple of weeks ago, bringing together members of the EGSA community, both past and present, for stimulating conversation, a classy snack buffet, and ballroom dancing. Yes, I said ballroom dancing, which was probably the first time in Rome 771.
The Summer Salon Series was initiated out of a desire for a forum where people could discuss art, politics, current events, music, and whatever else inspires their passions. With a ready-made community of intellectuals, why couldn't we do something like a salon here? 

Our work, especially during the summer "holidays" can seem isolating. We still crave company and conversation, but our reading time is limited, and  we're often, especially if we're writing dissertations, just tired of talking about our own work. So why not change the conversation? Why not get together to share the things we love--from hidden talents to pop culture--and why we love them. With visions of Voltaire lecturing from coffee tables, Alice and Gertrude showing off their newest Picasso, or James Joyce reading early drafts at Sylvia Beach's bookshop, I sent out a email to gauge interest and solicit ideas. And, you, members of the EGSA community, did not disappoint. 

Our first Summer Salon Series event had a great turnout, and our first two, exceptionally brave presenters kept us entertained. First, Leigha McReynold's discussed her experiences as a ballroom dancer, explained competitive rankings, and the various types of dances required in different circuits. And since the Salon is all about putting theory into practice, Leigha followed up with a simple dance lesson to get us waltzing. So the next time you're up late watching Strictly Ballroom or Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights--hey, I'm not judging--you'll have a better idea of what's going on, with the dancing at least. For the second presentation of the night, Maureen Kentoff, or 'Mo' as she's known to friends, led a group discussion about what we're talking about when we talk about post-feminism. How and why is the term being used in the media? How is it understood by undergraduates in our classes? How can we be said to live in a post-feminist society at this present juncture in American politics when women's access to healthcare and employment equality is forcibly challenged?  If you were there, you'll never watch commercials the same way again.

The next Salon will be this Thursday, June 27th at the Alexandria home of Mike Smith. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to email me at Lbrister@gwu.edu. You can join the Summer Salon group page on Facebook, and be sure to RSVP to next Thursday's event! See you there! 

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