Opportunities in the pandemic

I hear people moaning about being bored and isolated. On the contrary, I have been able to participate in activities I never would have had access to. A great many groups and institutions have put meetings and events online. I’ve had a unique chance to attend the following in the past few months:

Age of Victoria is a collection of scholars who meet as the Victorian Britain group in Facebook to give and attend lectures. I’ve been attending every Thursday since June, and have been invited to give a talk on H.G. Wells. Would that have happened but for the pandemic? I think not.

The H. G. Wells Society meets in London each June, and I’ve been lucky enough to have been there for one of the meetings. But the fun stuff happens in September, around Wells’s birthday. This year I was able to attend not only the general meeting, but also the September event, where Sarah Cole was interviewed by Simon James from the University of Durham about her book Inventing Tomorrow. Again, only because the the pandemic.

The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals has an annual conference, but I’m only given enough money to attend one conference a year, and that’s usually the North American Conference on British Studies. This year RSVP went online as a Digital Salon with a session on Digital Humanities, and I learned a lot about how such projects work and obtain grants, which may be an option for my collection of Wells’ science writings.

The Institute for Historical Research at the University of London has been offering a conference series. I attended one on Victorian Bloomsbury once when I was there. This year I’ll be attending two in October, one on touring Bloomsbury and the other on doing research online. And I’ve signed up for one in November, on the notebook of a policeman in late 19th century Lambeth. All because they’re online in Zoom.

MiraCosta College’s Writing Group usually meets a 45-minute drive away from the campus where I work, and a time where there’s heavy rush-hour traffic. Now they meet online in Zoom every two weeks at 4 pm. I have finally joined the group, and am sharing my fiction and peer reviewing the work of others.

I’ve also been able to attend a Stanford University lecture on historical monuments, and of course I’ve already blogged about attending writers’ conferences. Plus I’ve attended sessions on cultural competency and community college planning. On Wednesday I’m going on a tour of the Oxford Science Museum, one of my favorite places.

And it’s only October.

So yes, it’s horrid out there, and I can’t go to complete the research I began for my H.G. Wells book, or get access to the newspapers I need through the British Library newsroom.  But I can certainly take advantage of what’s available, and I’m delighted to do so.

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