Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kalamazoo at Last

At last, my report on Kalamazoo 2011. Few seem to do this anymore, which is sad considering how significant this conference is. And how large. There is no way that any one person can give an account of all the great scholarship (and sometimes not so great) that is read at Congress. So I annually appreciate the comments of my fellow bloggers the Medieval Geek who posts his experiences every year. Since Curt gets to sessions I can not attend or haven't attended, I always learn a great deal from his posts and so appreciate those posts. His posts also include info about books he purchases; these are enjoyable as well but also educational as a way of being apprised of what is going on out there even in areas I am interested in. In the Medieval Middle also had some K'zoo related posts, mostly from Jeffrey Cohen. I heard rumors of papers being tweeted, but since I have so little time anyway, Twitter is one of the lines I have drawn for myself: that is, I don't Twitter because right now I don't need another thing to keep up on. But if anyone knows for sure, send me a note and I'll add it here. Also there were a few comments by Nokes, Unlocked Wordhoard on this year's K'zoo. You might notice some guy posing as me with the Great Nokes. Vaulting and Vellum also had a post on post-Kalamzoo. That's all I know. Granted I'm behind on my reading, even of blogs, and others may be like me and be delayed in posting about K'zoo. In any case, here's my conference.

For the third year in a row, events conspired to prevent me from being at Congress as planned. I had planned on being there Wednesday afternoon, meeting with some old friends, doing some work, and having dinner with fellow attendees with Thursday dawning bright and early with a meeting followed by sessions. That didn't happen. I did leave early Thursday morning to catch a train; that was a comedy of errors, but I at least made the train sans breakfast, cash, or caffeine....and since the train's credit card reader was down, I was without coffee for the duration of the trip!

We arrived a little late at 11:30. Thankfully and blessedly, a million thanks upon their noggins, the fabulous, intelligent, and ubertalented Jena Webb and Francesca Bezzone came and retrieved me from the train station and then took me to lunch where coffee was had, food partaken, company enjoyed. We didn't watch the time as closely as we ought, so we drove back to Fetzer where my two companions were attending a Late Antique session. I was off to an A-S sessionnin Bernhard. Regrettably, I ran into construction on Sangren by the time I found a way round and got to Bernhard, I was 15 minutes into the session and missing the paper I wanted to hear addressing an already packed room. So I went downstairs to the computer lab and finished my own paper and printed it off.

There I fortunately ran into Bruce Gilchrist. Bruce was reading in the very next session, and as I was undecided which of the three I wanted to go to, prevailed on me to go to the Bede session. There were only two papers, "Why no Love for Constantine the Great in Bede's HE? by Bruce in which Bruce examines the lack of any Constantine mention in Bede and talks somewhat about the growth of the Constantine legends. Good paper, but he tells me that he discovered in process that someone else beat him to it in some out of the way place...but still already done. The second paper was titled "Lessons from Lesser Kings: Books IV and V of Bede's HE" which aimed to accomplish just exactly what the title says: what do we make of the kings in those two books.

Next, I went down to the wine hour. There were too many conversations, new acquaintances made, friends caught up with to mention here. But t'was a good time had by all. Dinner was had with Francesca and Jena again and others; we ended up missing the evening sessions because of a the wait at the restaurant. So it was off to the receptions, many conversations, including one that hopefully will appear in HA in the not so distant future. More on that anon.....

Friday morning came a bit too early. But I went off anyway to the Bloggers Meetup. I was fashionably late; I do know how to make an appearance. Before arriving there I pleasantly encountered Bridget Slavin, now a medieval archaeologist. It was grand to catch up with her a little bit and very good to see her. Then off to the meetup: present and delightful were ADM, Jonathan Jarrett, the aforementioned Curt Emanual of The Medieval History Geek, the incomparable Elizabeth Carnell, the fabulous and knowledgeable Steve Muhlberger, me, and Vaulting and Vellum. I had a good time.

Next came the session in Valley I that I presided over and co-organized with Mary K. Ramsey. One of my long time interests is notions and practices of translation. The session was called "Found in Translation: Linguistic Evidence for Culture Change". We received three abstracts, but only two papers showed. The first paper never communicated with either of us as far I know about not being there, but he didn't show. Anyway, Sandra Hordis read an interesting paper about "Anglo-Saxon Paradise" regarding especially the odd compound for paradise, neaxorwang. She's submitted to HA, so hopefully you'll all read that one in the nearish future. Mary Ramsey then read on "Translating the Names of God" which does as the title says, talks about how God is referred to in OE TEXTS. Two really good, solid papers.

After lunch with Jena and Francesca at Bilbos (my first Bilbo's trip of the year!), I spent the next session in the exhibit hall. For one thing, I needed to find Witan Publishing's booth; there I met the rest of the team in addition to Nokes, took some pictures, and shook some hands. I also made the rounds of book stalls looking for good stuff. Very few primary texts to be had this year, that was very disappointing.

I had intended at the 3:30 session to FINALLY appear at one of the sessions in honor of Pat Conner. Unfortunately, the presider started the session 5 minutes early, the room was packed, not even standing room, so after standing around a bit pondering at the rudeness of starting early and what to do next, I ended up having some coffee and then popped into a paper down the hall on Women Selling Women by Mary Valante. It was very interesting about a topic I had never considered before, so got an education there.

Then off to the wine hour!! By this point being in Jena and Francesca's orbit, I had encountered many folk I might not otherwise have encountered. But still, the nature of the wine hour is to meet, greet, chat, and there are so many I talked to and had a good time with that I can not begin to make a list.

Friday night is the AngloSaxonist dinner, an event that I try to go too. Yes, it is generally the "old guard" and at a "stuffy restaurant" etc. But so what? What matters is the people: I have always enjoyed getting to know my colleagues as people whether Andy Orchard, Paul Szarmach, Tom Hill, Don Scragg, Katherine O'Brien O'Keefe, and others. Or us lesser lights too, who as these big names retire, become big names ourselves. This year I shared a cab and table with two folk becoming big names and whom I respect very, very much: Chris Vaccaro and Yvette Kisor. Both are delightful people and good scholars. I had a very good time in their company.

I had intended to go down to the Babel gathering, but was having such a good time with Jena, Francesca, Yvette, Chris, Michael Fletcher, David DiTucci, Beth Stollar, and others. We exchanged many views on many things and Babel somehow got along without me this year.

Saturday morning became an odd one. It was supposed to be a meeting of the board of the HA for breakfast. We met briefly in the lobby of Valley III and that was that. We were going to go to Maggie's. Maggie's was sadly closed. Bruce Gilchrist was going to join us. So it ended up being Michelle Ziegler, Bruce, and I and first we went to a "coffee shop" in town and I won't comment, and then off to Bob Evans, and a dash back for the first session. I went to the exhibit room for awhile and then ran through my paper a couple times.

After lunch in the company of Francesca, Jena, Lauren Doughty, it were time for my session, "Beowulf Against the Grain." Quite apart from my paper that I've already posted, the other two were really good. J. D. Thayer read on "Hwil Dages: A Mythological Reading of Beowulf and the Man" which was interesting and of course goes the opposite direction of much Beowulf criticism: to read the poem as myth rather than for history or language. The second paper was "Making Beowulf Scream: The Punctuation of Old English Poetry" by Eric Weiskott. I had concerns about this paper. Going in, it was an "Hoo boy" and all I could think of was discussions by Bruce Mitchell. But in the end, this was the best paper in the session, it was terrific, well argued, well delivered. If only I could be that good! Fantastic as a matter of fact.

I had intended to go to a session, but lo, and behold, my friend Melody Harris was at my session, and I hadn't seen Mel in some time. So we went for coffee and caught up with one another, lives, careers, research, etc. Then off to wine hour!! Michael Fletcher had a large group together and they included m kindly in the group. Before going out, Michael thankfully wanted to stop by the Boethius Society reception...good call! There I was able to catch up a bit with Paul Szarmach and Rhonda McDaniel. We went down to a tapas place across from Old Penn. It used to be a French place, then a pizza place...and now this place was FANTASTIC. I would so spend money there again! Wish I could remember the name.

Dinner was fabulous. I met Cedric Briand at last, and we all talked, laughed, and shared plates of food. T'were grand.

Then it was off to the dance....and I danced. And overall a good time was had by many. I still miss the old days, but ah well. Lack of self policing solved that.

Well, believe it or not the next morning dawned. I always intend to go the morning sessions. In recent years, it hasn't happened. Mostly because I have to say Sunday is my chief book time. I spent more time in the book exhibits and finally got to the end at Powells. T'were a sad affair. I think I only bought six books this year. Of course, my budget doesn't extend as far at Curt Emanuel's, whose time to read I also envy! Still, I found this year's exhibit disappointing overall.

So there it is. My 2011 Congress.


Anonymous said...

My posts will eventually come, but as you may have seen I seem to be about two months behind most things on the blog at the minute... Anyway, my blogging you don't need to police. I bought ten books, and four of them were primary source volumes, so I guess the lesson is start working on Europe :-) It was good to catch up, and you must bug me about the borderlands HA issue. Unless something's in my INBOX glaring at me these days, it doesn't get done and I don't want to screw up your schedules.

Medieval History Geek said...


If you're worried about not having bought enough books, I'm sure we can arrange a loan system of some sort!

It was good seeing you again, as always, though we didn't get much of a chance to catch up.

theswain said...


Well, I hope you don't feel like I'm policing your blog posts or anything else in your life for that matter. I think I covered you when I said "others may be like me and be delayed in posting about K'zoo." I hoped this was the case regarding your blog and I'm interested in seeing K'zoo (and Leeds to come) from your point of view.

And never fear, I shall soon be bothering you a great deal about the upcoming borderland issue....and that you should remind ADM about that paper she mentioned in the blogger meetup that would fit the issue grandly.

What primary source material did you buy? Perhaps I was at the wrong booths or they were all gone by the time I got there.

theswain said...


Yes, I regretted not seeing enough of you this year, but I read your posts. Between me and my weird year and you needing to do work, I guess we missed each other other than the brief meetup.

Actually, you should consider a regular or semi regular HA column based on your reading.....

Medieval History Geek said...

Larry, Send me an e-mail with a few more details and we probably can get something done. I expect you know this but don't expect a completely organized, "charted out" course of study.

I didn't even see Paul Gans this year and I always go to dinner with him one night. I was seriously antisocial.