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Saturday at Kalamazoo

One perennially unobtainable goal at the medieval congress is enough sleep. Receptions last well into the evening and it's so easy to be sidetracked talking to a new acquaintance or long-lost friend when otherwise en route to sleep. So my Saturday began very nicely with a nap, a fine start to a very good day.

After buying a modest two books at the bookroom, I ran off to the Avista business meeting. If any of you work on food technologies in the Middle Ages, do let me know - I'm now organizing a session for Avista on it for next year.

The afternoon was fabulous: how could I resist a panel comprised of Chris Given-Wilson and Terry Jones? Neither could several hundred other people. I perched on a step. Given-Wilson is hilarious, and argued, among other things, that the Wilton Diptych* is a paean to virginity - everyone depicted in it is a virgin. This logically led to speculation on what the collective noun for a group of virgins might be. Also, "Richard" was a name only given to younger sons - it wasn't a kingly name. Jones spoke with alarming rapidity, but his well-labeled Powerpoint was easy to follow: Richard II was a good, responsible monarch, and all this talk about being a tyrant is besmirchment by Henry IV. Afterwards, there was wild applause, and then a book signing.

A year ago, in the late hours in the night which were contributing to last year's lack of sleep, Elisabeth Carnell and I hatched plans for a weblog session at this year's Kalamazoo. On Saturday afternoon, six panellists**, one moderator, and a good twenty-four-or-so audience members*** I'm not the best person to tell you how the panel went since I was moderating, and it was my first time chairing a session. But I can tell you that the roundtable participants were forthcoming, satisfyingly opinionated, and didn't require too much prompting to keep the dialogue going. We made it through all the most important questions I wanted to deal with****, and kept the discussion fairly well focused on weblog use as it pertains to medievalists and medieval studies in particular. There was clearly a great deal of interest in the pedagogical uses of weblogs.

We knew there'd be plenty of bloggers in the audience. Meeting Baraita was one of the unexpected highlights for me - and, of course, the pleasure of meeting the roundtable participants I didn't already know. Afterwards, I wandered briefly over to wine hour - where I ran into childeric. C.M. and I were en route over to nab seats for the Pseudo Society when S.W. pulled up in a car. Thanks to him, dinner was civilized and quick at an all-you-can-eat salad, baked goods, soup, and ice cream bar. The cheese biscuits***** were really good. We still managed to get some of the last groups of seats, a block way up in the very front row, where I chatted with History Geek and Digital Medievalist Project members until the evening's entertainment got underway.

For those who have not previously encountered it, the Pseudo Society is an annual tradition at Kalamazoo. It's a session of all fake papers, delivered with straight faces and - when successful - designed to be really funny. "The Sentinel's Tale: A Chaucerian Forgery by a Post-Post-Chaucerian Forger" was full of good puns, mostly related to shoes. "The Passions of Thomas Becket" included alcohol, sailing, fishing, and massage. It was funnier than my summary makes it sound. The image documenting massage was a highlight; also, Becket using a human cannon and shooting out into the air. As for the last paper... well... I laughed a few times and completely failed to get the rest of it; this says a great deal about my lack of immersion in critical theory.

I tired early at the dance, but not before catching up with lots of the Toronto crowd, meeting more of the UCLA crowd, bonded with dark_age_gal over gaming, and appreciating the coconut notes in ballincollig's BPAL-of-the-day.

* Because no study of Richard II is complete without a new suggestion for the meaning of the Diptych.
** H.D. Miller was, sadly, unable to join us, thanks to a family emergency.
*** At least one of whom kept wanting to post comments in reply to things which had been said.
**** Does blogging provide an effective form of personal publicity? Do you wish you'd chosen to blog anonymously instead of under your own name? What does the medium of blogging do better for Medieval Studies than forums, discussion boards, and other types of web-based interaction? Why is there so much more blogging about academics in general than specific research subjects? Why is blogging important for the field of Medieval Studies in particular?
***** In the American sense of biscuit

Comments

( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
angevin2
May. 8th, 2006 02:40 am (UTC)
Because no study of Richard II is complete without a new suggestion for the meaning of the Diptych.

Damn! Well, I'm only writing about later representations of him. I think this lets me off the hook. ;)

Given-Wilson is hilarious, and argued, among other things, that the Wilton Diptych* is a paean to virginity - everyone depicted in it is a virgin.

Everyone? Wasn't it painted, in all likelihood, in the late 1390s, and wouldn't that complicate that statement since by the late '90s Richard himself was already a widower? Or do you mean "everyone else"? (Or was Given-Wilson redating the diptych or making odd suggestions about Richard's sex life? ;) )
owlfish
May. 8th, 2006 02:51 am (UTC)
Surely Shakespeare wrote something which would illuminate previously unrealized aspects of the Wilton Diptych!

Given-Wilson was arguing that Richard wasn't a manly man; he was iconically virginal, whether or not literally. He had no children and his second bride was only 7 or 8 when they married. I can't swear that's exactly how the argument went, but it was along those lines. His argument certainly had nothing to do with the Diptych's dating.
(no subject) - angevin2 - May. 8th, 2006 02:59 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - childeric - May. 8th, 2006 09:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - angevin2 - May. 8th, 2006 07:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - owlfish - May. 9th, 2006 05:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - childeric - May. 9th, 2006 07:30 am (UTC) - Expand
morganlf
May. 8th, 2006 03:52 am (UTC)
hehe. I lurve the UCLA crowd, I do. I'm so very happy there!

PS--It was so very nice to see you again.
owlfish
May. 8th, 2006 04:12 am (UTC)
They're friendly, really tall, and well-dressed!

It was lovely to see you again too!
a_d_medievalist
May. 8th, 2006 06:07 am (UTC)
I thought the blogger panel went rather well! Congrats! Wish we'd been able to spend more time together, though :-(
owlfish
May. 9th, 2006 05:06 am (UTC)
Thank you!

I wish we'd been able to spend more time together too. We never really had a proper conversation, even if we spent time in each other's general company with astrolabes and panel. I did look for you at wine hour after, but wine hour is an enormous and complicated thing.
(no subject) - a_d_medievalist - May. 9th, 2006 05:51 am (UTC) - Expand
whatifoundthere
May. 8th, 2006 08:10 am (UTC)
We made it through all the most important questions I wanted to deal with

So what were all the answers? :)
cataptromancer
May. 8th, 2006 02:46 pm (UTC)
= blogs are good, I'm guessing
(no subject) - owlfish - May. 9th, 2006 05:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - whatifoundthere - May. 9th, 2006 05:24 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - owlfish - May. 10th, 2006 05:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - owlfish - May. 10th, 2006 05:12 am (UTC) - Expand
oursin
May. 8th, 2006 12:08 pm (UTC)
It's a session of all fake papers, delivered with straight faces and - when successful - designed to be really funny.

I only wish that this provided an explanation for a really bizarro paper I heard towards the end of a Victorian Studies conference - I don't think the fact that it came after several fairly intense ways was the reason that it didn't make sense to me, I think that was because, well, it didn't make sense. Except in some alternative time-travelling universe.
dark_age_gal
May. 8th, 2006 03:00 pm (UTC)
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed our chat at the dance. That was much-needed! It was great to see you.
owlfish
May. 9th, 2006 05:09 am (UTC)
I needed it too! I can't remember - will you be around to be seeable in early June in T.O.?
(no subject) - dark_age_gal - May. 9th, 2006 02:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
marzapane
May. 8th, 2006 03:17 pm (UTC)
Apropos of your call for food technology people, do you still have the contact info I gave you for the girl I know from Smith with a degree in food science, and a focus on medieval Jewish Italian food? I can dig it up again if you're interested.
owlfish
May. 9th, 2006 05:07 am (UTC)
Yes I do have it, and had completely forgotten. Thanks for the reminder!
intertext
May. 8th, 2006 05:56 pm (UTC)
Speaking of fake papers and critical theory: are you familiar with this?
The Postmodern Generator is English's answer, and very funny if you have read or heard FAR too many papers that are not unlike what you see here.
owlfish
May. 9th, 2006 05:10 am (UTC)
I hadn't seen it! Thanks for the link.
rymenhild
May. 9th, 2006 07:37 am (UTC)
I thought the last paper at Pseudo Society skewered what it came to skewer quite accurately. That said, I didn't think it was actually funny. I probably would have appreciated it more if the panelist was mocking high theory as an insider rather than as an outsider.

Lovely meeting you, by the way! (At the blogging panel, and then later at the dance. At both places I was accompanied by my friend libraryhero.)
owlfish
May. 10th, 2006 05:17 am (UTC)
I'm glad you know you'd met me, since I didn't know I'd met you! I don't know library hero either, by alias. You weren't by any chance sitting with naomichana at the panel were you? That would helpfully narrow you down to one of two people, and people I know I met. And were at the dance.
(no subject) - rymenhild - May. 10th, 2006 07:21 am (UTC) - Expand
history_geek
May. 10th, 2006 01:36 am (UTC)
I had a great time meeting up with you at the Puesdo Society. Next year must send scouts for food and drink! *G*
owlfish
May. 10th, 2006 05:18 am (UTC)
You were good company! Yes, arrive early and co-ordinate with others is really the way to do it. Or at least arrive early and take turns hurrying out for food.
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )