Newcomers are very welcome at SOTS meetings. SOTS is a friendly group with newcomers always present, and everyone will be glad to get to know you. To help in navigating your first visit, the following information may provide a few answers to common questions.
Format: The Society meets twice each year for Summer and Winter meetings. The format of these meetings is different from a very large conference, since there are no parallel sessions, so everyone is generally at everything at the same time. After delivering a paper, each speaker normally takes questions. The question time is usually fairly short because time is limited, but speakers will be only too pleased to discuss any further questions at another time. The programme of papers is circulated in advance, and is available on the SOTS website.
Meals are taken together and provide a good opportunity for mixing, so please sit wherever you find a space and introduce yourself to someone unfamiliar; they will be glad to meet you. There is usually at least one drinks reception sponsored by academic departments and/or publishers, and a bar in the evenings, which also provide opportunities to put names to a wider circle of faces. There is also the opportunity during the Summer Meeting to spend more time with fellow participants at an organised outing to a place of local interest; these outings are usually well attended.
Dress: There is no strict dress code. As at any professional gathering, people tend to wear the sort of work clothes they might wear for teaching.
Membership: You are welcome to attend a meeting or two as the ‘guest’ of a member of the Society before deciding if you would like to become a member yourself, though equally you do not have to have attended a previous meeting before seeking membership. It is not difficult to become a member: there is a short form to fill in, downloadable from the SOTS website, which requires the support of two members of the Society. The annual membership fee is modest, and the benefits of membership include useful mailings, discounts on books and journals, and the chance to write reviews for and receive the annual Book List.
Papers: Any member of the Society is eligible to present a paper at a meeting, and proposals are particularly welcome from new members. The procedure for proposing a paper is to write to the Secretary, giving a title and brief summary of the proposed paper, by the end of June (for the forthcoming Winter Meeting) or by the end of November (for the forthcoming Summer Meeting).
A special word for postgraduate students: Postgraduate students in Hebrew Bible and cognate fields are also very welcome at SOTS meetings, and can enjoy a reduced price for accommodation and meals in return for minor duties (such as assisting with bookstalls, registration, or the distribution of handouts) at the meeting. As with other newcomers, you can if you wish attend a meeting or two simply as the ‘guest’ of a SOTS member (normally your supervisor) in order to see what the meetings are like before deciding on whether to seek membership; then, when you do apply for membership, your supervisor would normally be one of your two ‘supporters’. You do not need to have completed your doctorate to become a member of the Society; nor, once you have taken up membership, do you need to have completed your doctorate to propose a paper for a forthcoming meeting.
Further information: The SOTS website has useful information on the Society and its meetings, as well as other resources for biblical studies. If you have further questions relating to your attendance at a forthcoming meeting, the best person to contact is Janet Fyffe, the Hospitality Secretary.