Although I feel that it probably is a sign that I am catching up on my blogged past, I have to admit that I face the fact that the next thing in my blog pile is the International Medieval Congress of three-and-a-half years ago with a certain unwillingness. I mean, I’ve spent much of the last two years either trying to stay off or being told I can’t go onto the campus where it happened, for a start, so there is definitely a sense that this is deep past which doesn’t have so much to do with time as experience. But I’ve done all the rest and the format for them seems pretty well worked out now, and so I will give it a go.
Postcard advertisement from the IMC website
This was, I am reminded as I fish the programme off the shelf, the 25th International Medieval Congress, and the programme is the fattest of all the ones on that shelf. I can’t actually work out how many sessions there were: it says that there were 392 sessions on the conference theme of Memory, 9 keynote lectures and 394 further sessions, plus 4 lectures, so I think it’s 799, but firstly I’m not sure if that was everything and secondly, that was the programme as initially published, not the result of all the subsequent changes you find in the also-thick booklet of changes when you register. And in any case, however many sessions there are, you still can’t go to more than 17 because that’s how many slots there are in the programme, which is massively parallel, and most delegates won’t manage that because of their feeble needs for food and sleep or because of wisely placing socialising with people you otherwise never see over more direct forms of academic engagement. I do like, however, how this means that it’s probably mathematically possible for more paths through the Congress to exist than there are attendees, since there were this year 2,545 attendees and, if my GCSE maths does not fail me, 1 x 53 x 1 x 54 x 54 x 13 = 2,009,124 possible combinations of sessions just on the Monday not including any of the receptions. How would we know if it got too big? Anyway, this just means that what I have done the last few times, just listing my own path and then offering a few remarks where things still stand out for me, seems like the best approach still, because I can’t give an impression of 2 million plus possible other Congress experiences in one blog post, now can I? So mine is below the cut, day by day with brief commentary on each day to lighten the data dump. As ever, I’m happy to try and answer questions about the papers if people have them, but I will try and stay short unless you do. Here we go! Continue reading →
Posted in Anglo-Saxons, Carolingians, Catalonia, Charters, Eastern Europe, France, General medieval, Institutions, Islamic Crescent, Now working on..., Spain
Tagged agriculture, al-Andalus, Alans, Alex Woolf, Andre Evangelista Marques, Andrew Marsham, Ann Christys, Augustine of Hippo, Aurora González Artigao, Álvaro Carvajal Castro, conferences, Cullen Chandler, Danuta Shanzer, Ed Roberts, epigraphy, Fozia Bora, Ghali Adī, Guillermo Tomas Faci, Ian Wood, Ibn Khaldūn, Igor Santos Salazar, IMC, inventories, Ionuţ-Valentin Cucu, Jana Valtrová, Jeffrey Bowman, Jesús Lorenzo Jiménez, José Carlos Sanchez-Pardo, Julia Smith, Katy Cubitt, land use, Leeds, Leonor Zozaya-Montes, liturgy, Magdalena Betti, Marcos Fernández Ferreiro, Maria Soler Sala, Marta Sancho, Martha Bayless, Mary Carruthers, medieval economy, memory, Merovingians, Molly Lester, Mongols, Paul Fouracre, Paulo Pacha, place-names, Portugal, Purificación Ubric, Richard Dance, Rob Portass, Rory Naismith, Ros Faith, Sarah Greer, Simon MacLean, St Wilfrid, tax, Vladimir Liščak, Wendy Davies, Xavier Costa Badia
Now that I’ve sunk back into the medieval blogosphere I gather that I was at the wrong sessions at Leeds, as I have come back entirely unable to snicker about medieval underpants. It bothers me already how many legs this story has found: Carl Pyrdum seems to have collected most of them at Got Medieval but Richard Nokes adds much-needed unreal perspective at the Unlocked Wordhoard. (He goes on to give this blog a plug that has something like quintupled its apparent readership, for which I owe him due thanks!) All the same, although as Matthew Gabriele comments on Carl’s post, it’s nice to see medieval hygiene making it onto the web rather than the lack of it, the story does crazily miss the point of what Dr Mostert will have been saying. I should leap to his defence, but for two things. Firstly, Carl has done so already and likely far better than I would. Secondly, but for Dr Mostert’s taste and discretion, my and my collaborators’ session at Leeds last year would have been called “Who Gives a Sod (and Why?)”, a joke only funny to charter historians, so I find it vindictively amusing that he is now all over the Hypermation Intersoupway for talking about underwear.
Actually, although I don’t think I would have gone to that session anyway, I have to confess to not branching out as much as maybe I should have done this Leeds. I seem to have mainly spent it in Texts and Identities, which is a guaranteed relevant slot for any Carolingianist but I would have liked to see more archaeology and northern British stuff. Regrettably most of the archaeologists I wanted to hear from pulled out—a lot of people pulled out, in fact— and the best-looking British session clashed with one of our strand, so loyalty kept me away, allied with the hope that Alaric, the moderator, will be able to send me copies of the papers. So what did I do? Well, here goes.
- First and foremost the keynote by Chris Wickham and Marc Boone; it’s always worth hearing Chris speak and this was a lot better than last year’s keynote
- then our three sessions, `us’ in this instance being myself, Allan Scott McKinley and Martin Ryan, the original Three Musketeers of the New Diplomatic (as we wish to be entitled on the sign by the pyre on which they burn our many books when it all goes Fahrenheit 451), and this summer’s special guest stars, in no particular order Dr Elina Screen, Mr Alaric Trousdale, Professor Nicholas Brooks, Mr Alexander Ralston, Dr Alice Rio and Dr Charles West, several of whom have already changed bases so click those links while they’re hot
- book-buying, dinner, drinking and ranting with Morn Capper, who was my boon companion for much of the Congress
- the next morning a session being run by the first of those Alarics named above (at medieval congresses you get plural Alarics, it’s great), which contained stuff about Anglo-Saxon witches, Valkyries and a sterling performance by Martha Bayless who took the stand with no visual aids, proclaimed in a steady and ironic monotone that she used all paper that she herself was the visual aid, and while barely moving or varying her speech all paper still had us all captivated—I want her speaking coach
- the second Texts & Identities session
- a quick bus trip into Headingley to buy some food actually worth eating for dinner
- the following Texts & Identities one because of an old supervisor and two always-inspiring speakers too, except that this year one of them wasn’t because I could hardly hear him, and Rosamond McKitterick got accused of being subversive by Jinty Nelson
- yet another T&I session, which I was attending in the hope of picking up work on bishops but from which the speaker most relevant to that had pulled out alas
- more book-buying and self-catered dinner followed by a small wealth of receptions, even winding up in the Early Medieval Europe one by mistake—I had meant to go, you understand, but had got the idea that it was the next day, and so was slightly disconcerted to find it happening round me—then an attempt at an early night spoilt by new books
- the next morning’s first T&I as well, because Bernhard Zeller‘s evidence always fascinates me and I wanted to poach him for next year’s session
- the revived T&I Time Archives thread, mainly to see if it was as much hot air as last year which I’m thankful to say it wasn’t, instead being very interesting but almost unrelated to its session title
- still more book-buying
- more of the Time Archives because of a friend presenting and another fascinating character
- a T&I session on the papacy for very similar reasons
- another dinner, then a picnic held by Rosamond, at which I met several interesting people, and then the dance, at which I may, may have danced a bit but only under acute peer pressure and mighty personal resolves; also accusations of scandal, absence of same and apparently secret societies
- somehow messing up my alarm that night so as next morning to all but miss my housemate’s paper in the penultimate T&I session
- going to two interesting papers in a (non-T&I!) session out of which unfortunately the speaker most relevant to my work had pulled without my knowing
- and finally off home, after one piece of networking at a publishing stall that inevitably led to a last book being bought
So I was fairly busy. Any questions?
The irony hasn’t stopped yet, indeed; I had a mail when I got back (in fact I had lots, but moving on), and it was from Ashgate Publishing asking whether I wanted this book I’d ordered with them. I mailed them to ask `what book? I’m sure I brought them all home with me!’ but this didn’t stop a duplicate copy of one of the books I bought arriving on Tuesday anyway. I’m sure it’s dead good but I don’t want two of them. Bizarrely, this turns out to be unconnected with the mail, which was about another book they aren’t now going to send me a duplicate of. Funny people. Meanwhile, anyone want a spare copy of Chris Snyder‘s The Britons enough to slip me ten English for it?
Anyway! Too chatty! The following posts will in due course return you calmly into the arms of scholarly academe. Meanwhile, it is nice, as Professor Nokes also says, to remember occasionally that actually this damn discipline has fun in it when you look hard enough.
Posted in Anglo-Saxons, Charters, General medieval, Next paper is due..., Uncategorized
Tagged Alaric Hall, Alaric Trousdale, Alexander Ralston, Alice Rio, Allan Scott McKinley, Bernhard Zeller, Charles West, Chris Wickham, conference, Elina Screen, Jinty Nelson, Leeds, literacy, Marco Mostert, Martha Bayless, Martin Ryan, medieval underwear, Morn Capper, Nicholas Brooks, Rosamond McKitterick