In Thursday’s class, Susanna Branyon raised the important issue of conference legitimacy. It is certainly true that there are more and more academic conferences all the time, and while not all of them are money-making scams pure and simple, some are less than discriminating, less than reputable.
I don’t personally know of any such conference in the discipline of English, and of course humanities scholars tend to have little in the way of discretionary funding for travel, which means that we are not very tempting targets. But as a practical tip, it’s good to investigate any conference you’re thinking of attending to see whether it’s fully legitimate. As an impractical amusement, you might enjoy visiting the website of SciGen: An Automatic Computer Science Paper Generator. I recommend the video “Near Science,” which memorably recounts the adventures of three MIT Computer Science students who presented three randomly-generated papers at a sketchy conference titled “The 9th World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI 2005).”