For Deborah, Mostly
There is not a great deal to say about the conference in České Budějovice (or perhaps there is and I'm not the person to say it). SVU is a large and venerable conference for Czechoslovak and American scholars to present papers on anything relating in any way to Czechs and/or Slovaks. Many of the participants are Czech Americans who emigrated during the Communist period, so conversations tends to be very bilingual. The majority of the papers are in English, however.
A small number of us are grad students or recent PhDs. My friend Štěpanka was also in attendance, presenting at one of the archival panels.
My own talk was called "The Myth of Toyen" and drew from a section of the first chapter of my dissertation. I had chosen it on the grounds that it was a little less narrowly art-historical and thus perhaps potentially of greater interest to a general audience, and also because it didn't actually require showing slides as I had no idea what the audiovisual facilities would be like (I did create a PowerPoint show and was able to get it onto the screen). The art panel was somewhat marred by missing panelists, but the three of us who were indeed there were, I think, well received.
Prior to the conference, I suffered some anxiety as to what I could possibly wear, as my only conference-suitable clothing was black wool and the temperatures had gone into the 90s. Since I have perfectly good summer suits in storage, I was reluctant to duplicate them and thought that some sort of nice linen jacket with a dress, skirt, or pants would be better.
Although one does see people wearing that sort of thing in Prague, I was not having much luck finding it, other than some very expensive possibilities in a shop in Ungelt that sells various interesting design items. Since Deborah, the person who had first lured me into the store back in December, was back in Prague for language classes, I prevailed upon her to join me in seeing what these looked like on the human body.
We agreed that a pale salmon linen suit looked pretty good. It was not quite what I had in mind, and it was certainly more money than I wanted to pay, but it looked nice and I had seen some attractive shoes in that color the day before (as a rule I don't even like this color, but any color can look good in the right circumstances). Deborah was inclined to think I should get it before anyone else did, whereas I thought I should think about it awhile longer.
Shortly thereafter, as I was leaving the library, it occurred to me that in the past I had admired linen outfits in the window of a small shop on Husová. I had never ventured inside on the grounds that I didn't need to buy nice linen clothes for my life in Prague and they were unlikely to be cheap.
Within moments I had located the shop. When I stepped in, I was a little nervous that it had only two racks of clothes and the proprietor was anxious to find out exactly what I wanted, but fortunately I was able to remember my European sizes and this limited my choices drastically. I was afraid she wouldn't have anything in my size, but she immediately brought forth a handsome brown skirt. The jacket that I liked best on the hanger was much too big, but one that I didn't care for on the hanger turned out to go very nicely with the skirt. The prices, while not cheap, were reasonable for good-quality clothing. In less time that I had imagined possible, I had my conference gear--which should also work perfectly for the conference I'll be at in Durham (England) in September. AND I can wear it to teach, which is more than I can say of the average conference suit, which gets a little too formal for the classroom.
I meant to take photos before going to the conference when everything was utterly pristine, but actually, I think it is a tribute to the jacket and skirt that they look this good after several days of conference wear, travel, and getting drenched in the rain--and no ironing yet.
If you are in Prague, you too can find elegant linen women's wear at Nostalgie. The designer is Marie Fleischmannová. The hat is from the Kotva department store (where one can find Czech linen hats each summer and berets in the winter) and I am afraid that the top is from a shop in Berkeley and is one of the only synthetic garments I possess (but the weave was too fascinating to resist).
So, Deborah, this is what I ended up wearing. I feel certain you will approve.