First, I haven’t had much exposure to scholarship on the Woodstock Years (as they styled them…and why not style them that way?)
Second, the colloquy in France is by definition a small gathering of senior scholars, a roundtable with microphones for the dozen plus presenters and an outer row of chairs for students and other faculty interested in auditing.
With all that scholarship on display (each one had about 45 minutes over the three day period,) and the fire power of the scholars themselves, no more than 24 people were in the room at a time, with a stable 12-15 (the presenters) around the table at all times. While I had imagined 100 conferees: this roundtable form is apparently the normal structure of a French colloquium.
With many of the presenters being born in America, teaching at universities in France, and of my age group (55+) the combination of scholarship and personal anecdotes made for an intense three days. Presentations ranged from themed periods with several presenters–anti Vietnam War, black power, counterculture, music–to specific presentations deconstructing the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Larry Brown’s Dirty Work, the Kinks, and amusing and enlightening analysis of the relationship between the members of the crew of the Enterprise (Star Trek.)
Depending on the way each presenter who delivered their presentation in French spoke–about half were delivered in English and half in French–I understood anywhere from 50-80%. Most astonishing to me were the several young French female scholars whose presentations on the U.S. anti-war movement and the black power movement were infused with the passionate scholarship I had assumed could only come from someone who had been there.
A scholar from Montana, David L. Moore, whose parents were founders of Pacifica Radio, gave a very moving presentation on the occupation of Alcatraz Island (1969-1971) and spoke about one of the American Indian Movement leaders at Alcatraz, John Trudell. He also read AIM leader Carter Camp’s piece Remembering Wounded Knee 1973 . (In 1973 hundreds of Indians and others occupied the village of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. in protest of U.S. government persecution of AIM leaders.)
The only presenter who wasn’t a scholar, I took the liberty of invoking a blessing at the beginning of my presentation. I brought small gifts of a silk bookmark silkscreened with Burning Silk, the title of my recently released novel (try using the word “silk” three times in a sentence, each with different contexts.) I also brought small smudge sticks for each of my colleagues. My Powerpoint presentation described Diggers (everyone) in Haight Ashbury, our moving out onto the road and finding our roots–or nomadic routes–and the development of the concepts of bioregionalism. From there it was a short route to describe–thanks to the Mattole Watershed Council–how each watershed restoration group began work on their own watershed, providing meaningful work to young people, and a restored sense of community.