On Saturday, I skipped the plenary in favor of a post-breakfast nap to catch up on a smidgen of sleep before heading off to what proved to be one of the most entertaining sessions of the congress for me: Reading Latin. The audience members ranged from long-term Latin professors to medievalists who'd managed to never really study Latin but still needed to pronounce the odd word of it respectably in their papers. The session leader was charmingly flustered. She's a Latin professor, but used to giving academic papers to her peers, not running them through pronunciation exercises. The session was good scansion review for me; also, I'm not sure I ever knew how to say a 'y' properly in classical Latin.
Ultimately, though, the session, stealthily sponsored by the Societas Ovidiana, was an excuse to meet up with justinsomnia for the first time. We joined the Societas members for a lunch in town. I had one of the better salads of my week, a buffalo chicken one. The last time I went out for a meal with the Societas members was several years ago, when J.P. and I attended their board meeting. This time, they gave my fellow LJer and I lots of useful career and self-marketing advice.
In the early afternoon, I went to cliosfolly's presentation on Medieval multi-strand bookmarks, complete with useful handout which I proceeded to show to various people throughout the day. (It's a reading technology, so historians of technology were interested in them too.) She presented enthusiastically and clearly; I'm looking forward to seeing where this research project goes next.
I attempted - for the second day running - to look around the book room. I made it as far as buying two vaguely-relevant and inexpensively priced books, and then was sidetracked again in conversation. This wasn't a problem - most of my best moments of this congress have come from conversations which occurred while skipping sessions. In this case, a senior historian of technology was far more encouraging about the UK academic job market than anyone else I've talked to so far; it was heartening.
After the mead tasting (loved the cyser, the sack mead was tasty and very alcoholic), I joined cwjat, among others, for dinner back at Bilbo's, the default local hangout. I had yet another salad (chef salad, this time). After D.F.,a friend of cwjat's, and medievalist/Tolkienist, complained about how program newcomers flock to her to ask her how the got into Tolkien studies, we challenged each other to define in as few words as possible how we each ended up in our areas of study. P.B. was the most concise in the end: he loves words. Meeting D.F. was a real pleasure for me; not only is she a great deal of fun to talk to, but she might be willing to translate a 12th century Greek romance for me, one which I greatly covet reading.
For the first time in years, I skipped the Pseudo-Society meeting (rumor has it that it went particularly well), and went straight to the Avista reception. Now that I'm on the board, I had to! It proved another good opportunity for friends and professors to introduce me to useful Brits. I have several pages of job leads scribbled into my notebook now.
One of those newly met and I talked into the evening, albeit mostly about the open software movement. Thus, I didn't make it to the dance until past midnight. The time flew by, an hour and a half more of socialization and introductions before the lights came on, and we all gradually drifted back to dorms and late night talk in the chill of night.
Fatigue accumulates. I ate granola bars for breakfast and napped until my 10:30 session on bricks. (Did you know they were fashionable and used especially in high-status palaces in the early fifteenth century in England? Or that they came to Germany from Italy?)
The best paper title of the conference - I didn't attend it - was on marginalia: "It came from Outer Space."
Now the campus is wrapped back into a lull of sunshine, the odd student or conference attendee wandering down the hillside or pausing the watch the swans on their nest. The congress is all but over until next year.