- The BABEL sessions on humanism and theory in the Middle Ages. Both left me with far more questions than answers -- were you to ask me, I'd still be unable to define "humanism" in a way that gets at what is essential about the term, nor could I state much that isn't diffuse about what how medieval studies and theory share futures ... but the latter panel especially contained much that is provocative and will inform my thinking for some time to come.
- The linked sessions on space in romance did an admirable job of combining the blah blah blah of ossified professors like yours truly with sterling work by graduate students. In retrospect, the voices missing from the above two panels were the most important: those of the scholars just being trained for or just entering the profession at this moment.
- The session on queer theory and feminism.
- The blogger breakfast, in which I learned that most people were squarely what I expected from their blogs. And I mean that in a good way. The only surprise was me: I found myself at once both more and less intimidating than usual. Also, lighter haired and shorter than is my custom.
- The book exhibits have grown enormously. It was so much fun to be lost there.
- Getting to know Daniel Kline (he has an excellent book on medieval children's literature, and one of the most moving essays on loss I've read - it combines the medieval and the personal in ways that bring a tear to my eye every time I read it)
- Tapas with Valerie Allen, whose book On Farting is one of my favorite pieces of recent scholarship. It's neither full of hot air nor stinky. And I envy its prose style.
- Meeting Eileen Joy in the flesh. Though I don't think I incarnated her mental image of me, she was 99.99999% exactly what I expected. Again, I mean that in a good way.
- Spending some time with some young medievalists whose work will make a large imapct on the field (Karl Steel, Michael Wenthe, Jonathan Hsy, Mary Kate Hurley, Jon Williams, Randy Schiff .... and the many I am amnesiatically leaving out whom I met quickly after panels and in between sessions).
- Running in to Carolyn Dinshaw, who also had not been to the Zoo in a decade, and both of us remarking that it was like encountering earlier versions of our selves from a new point of view.
- For the price of admission, having free use of the sauna. Those were saunas that we were sitting in for all those sessions, right? Because I had to wring the sweat out of my clothing when I returned to my room each evening. I assume that the torpid heat was an amenity.
- When I first came to the Zoo, I kept a scorecard of monks and nuns spotted. In that spirit, I offer this year's tally: three nuns and two monks (actually I may have glimpsed the same Cistercian twice and might be double counting).
- My annual award for the Best Coiffed Medievalist: Bonnie Wheeler, Women's Division; Nicola Masciandro, Men's Division. As longtime readers know, I believe that medievalist should have hair clubs like scientists do.
Monday, May 14, 2007
post Kalamazoo post
In keeping with my emergent tradition of posting both during and after a conference, I offer a few scattered reflections on this year's Kalamazoo conference. In a word, it was one of the most enjoyable conferences I've attended. Highlights: