10th Anniversary of Loughborough’s CA Day

2016 was the 10th successive year we’ve held a Conversation Analysis Days at Loughborough University’s Department of Social Sciences. Here’s a brief account of how we got here, and why we think that it’s such a popular and enjoyable occasion. Charles Antaki and Liz Stokoe, organisers.

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Charles Antaki

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Liz Stokoe

It started out as a bright idea to invite friends and colleagues doing CA to come to a day’s meeting at Loughborough – no real reason, other than a sudden enthusiasm of the ‘let’s put a show on right here in the barn‘ type, and a list of people we wanted to see.

Tea and coffee was ordered, our familiar (and fortunately large) DARG room was booked, and the waiting started. Before long we had a long list of attenders and an exciting programme of papers. We were still apprehensive, but come the day, all went well. The papers were good, the audience nicely mixed among old friends, eager students and the odd curious colleague. Everyone had fun, and people said: do it again.

So we did.

The next year we went a bit more formal in that we gave the thing a name, and the year after we invited a well-established pair of colleagues to lend a bit of gravitas as Invited Speakers. We advertised it in a couple of places (the ever-useful LangUse and Ethno lists) and charged a few pounds to cover costs. People came in greater numbers, and enjoyed it just as much, of not more – and once again said: do it again. Without meaning to, or quite realising it, we discovered we had an annual event.

Thereafter, the pattern didn’t change: book the Invited Speakers, choose a suitably all-inclusive pseudo-theme for the year (we haven’t yet used “Talk”, but we’re running out of other options); put out a call in the Spring, and sit back until the final arrangements in the autumn.

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CA Days titles and Invited Speakers over the years

Every year we’re gratified by the rush of registrations from old-timers who know that places go quickly, and delighted to see applications from new colleagues and from eager young postgraduates and early career researchers. That’s especially pleasing, and encouraging evidence that CA is thriving in the next generation.

Why is the CA day so popular?

Probably these main reasons, all basically tribal:

  • a tribe likes to gather
  • …. especially at some sort of punctuation point of the year (end of term in our case)….
  • … at a symbolic-ish venue (Loughborough as a place where CA happens is well known enough for people to be curious about it)…
  • … to have a good time (the event has a good name, built up through its friendliness and informality, and the odd prize)…
  • … do a bit of business on the side (you’ll be able to rub shoulders with people you’ve read about) … oh, and …
  • … since Liz Stokoe’s fantastic cakes (a secret factor of success since the earliest days), gorge on the baked goods (now competed for in a CA-ke off).
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Lorenza Mondada presents Charlotte Allbury with a CA-ke off prize; a commemorative mug; Loughborough University caterers come good; and Eric Laurier cuts in

We should perhaps also say that the presentations are always decent, sometimes provocative, and occasionally brilliant; the event is, after all, basically a scholarly one. But without the enthusiasm and goodwill of our fellow-tribespeople who give it such spirit , it wouldn’t be as much fun as it perennially is.


Rebeca Clift distributes the prizes while one organiser tries to hold on to his copies

See you Monday 18th December, 2017!

This year’s anniversary event was kindly sponsored by Loughborough University’s Centre for Research in Culture and Communication.

We should also like to thank our excellent postgraduate helpers, wthout whom the event would collapse into a heap: this year, we salute Marc Alexander, Kat Connabeer, Claire Feeney, Joe Ford, Emily Hofstetter and Bogdana Huma.