Monday, May 12, 2008

Kalamazoo 2008

Since I started this blog in 2003, I've always meant to do some live blogging of the Zoo (aka the International Congress on Medieval Studies). But its is just too busy and I have too many meetings and sessions to get to a computer and type. So here is my summary from Wednesday to Sunday this year:

So my K'zoo was as follows:

Train was late, but still early enough to get registered and meet friends at various places, and of course stayed up way too late, 4 AM.

I have a standing 8 AM meeting, and have taken on the editing of a volume. But the meeting was short, shortest on record, and I was able to do some browsing before the first session. I went to the first session and heard three good papers on Alcuin, an understudied author if you ask me, and each paper brought out some interesting aspects of his work.

I went to lunch with friends, and skipped the second session: I find that I can only do 2 sessions (6-8 papers) a day, otherwise the papers begin to jumble together and the last session is difficult to maintain attention throughout. So I browsed the books a bit and took a short nap. The third session of the day I went to a session on the classical tradition in Anglo-Saxon England and heard 2 very good papers (esp. the second one!) and a pretty good paper on various aspects of the classical authors being used by A-S authors: Bede's take on some of Jerome's etymologies, another paper on certain author's surprising Stoicizing ideas in the 8th/9th centuries of the person of Christ and the survival in this surprising author of Stoic thought, and the third dealt with some of Bede's classical sources and sorting out whether he knew some of the authors he cites directly or through intermediaries such as grammars and rhetorical handbooks.

I missed Thursday evening sessions this year, having gone to a nice dinner with my Master's advisor, and so talked to people at receptions, and actually went to bed at an astonishingly early 12:30.

Friday began with a business breakfast which was very useful and delicious. Since I was reading and presiding in the 2 afternoon sessions, I skipped the morning session and practiced my paper and then spent the rest of the time perusing the books. Lunch was another business meeting. I read my paper, one person dropped out due to a last minute medical emergency, so there turned out to be only 2 papers in my panel, very, very different ones, but the other paper was quite good and interesting on Haimo of Auxerre's Christology. I read on the influenced of Old English religious poetry on Aelfric of Eynsham's biblical exegesis. The session I presided over had 3 interesting papers too. The first was on numerological interpretations by Augustine of Hippo, the second was a presentation of "lore" in notes scribbled in manuscripts, usually completely unrelated to the text(s) in the manuscripts! And the third dealt with the tradition of the "giants" from Genesis 6 in medieval exegesis of the Bible. There was then another business meeting, followed by the annual Anglo-Saxonist dinner together, always a fun time and educational too. There was then an after dinner party.

Saturday morning I was able to sleep in! No meetings! So I went to bed about 1:30 the night before, got up at 8:00, and then had a meeting at 9 about a book. I attended a session at 10 with 3 solid papers: one examining the Irish social backgrounds and words that the Latin peregrinus covers, one on the Catechesis Celtica that was actually more about construe marks (marks that show a Latin reader how to read the Latin) in certain catechetical manuscripts, and a third dealing with difficult Latin words in an Irish-Latin saints life. I had lunch with a well known medieval blogger and another friend, and then met with the publishers to whom I'm under contract to see how the projects are proceeding. So I missed the first afternoon session, and went to the second afternoon session, a session I organized in honor of a great teacher: all 3 papers were excellent! One dealt with the cult of Aethelflaed, lady of the Mercians, the second with the Old English poem Judith, and the third with how Aelfric presents sins of men vs. women in his LIves of Saints. Some friends and I have a standing tradition for Sat night dinner, and then off to the best reception of the weekend. After that is the annual Dance of the Medievalists that went on until 2 AM, then to bed.

Sunday morning I slept in til 8 and went to an 8:30 session on a project digitizing an important manuscript, and then a 10:30 session on theory in the early middle ages. And that was all, brunch with friends, and then pack up and head home.

I missed many good sessions, and renewed and deepened old acquaintances, made new acquaintances, and learned a good deal: academic stuff, news of who is where now, job and position openings, etc. I didn't buy a lot of books this year: 2 Latin primary texts recently edited, a history of manuscripts, finally bought the Heliand, and 2 books for writing reviews. I'll let you know how they are, if anyone is interested.

So that's my Kalamazoo 2008.

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