I survived the huge conference this week without any major trials of endurance, and returned with a mildly shameful quantity of books. One of the titles in the stack was actually free. It’s a review copy for one of my associations. Try and guess which one is the review book.
This may be the best conference yet for finding things on my desiderata. Maddern’s Violence and Social Order (Oxford: 1992) is an important work that is now hard to find. I got A Great Effusion of Blood? for a steal from the publisher. The two books on the bottom, from Freelance Academy Press, are hard to get otherwise and shipping is a pain.
Conferences are strange things, and this one is perhaps the strangest of the species. It is hugely popular with both academics and the interested public (who are also prepared to fork over the cash for registration, as it isn’t an open conference). These two groups rarely mingle at this scale.
This mix of the professional and ‘lay’ community produces a strange, but predominantly positive and stimulating, environment for academics who are often isolated within their disciplines and hobbled by the mechanics of academic ‘competition.’ Certainly there are a few ‘card-hawks’ who will need to stare at your conference tag for a while to evaluate the worth of engaging with you in conversation, but this is fairly rare.
The conference covers just about everything you can shoehorn into the ‘medieval’ category it will cover just about anything from the fall of the Roman Empire to the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign (Henry VIII seems to be ok, but after him it falls outside the comfort zone. There is no Marlow, or Shakespeare at this conference). It is also a conference with a large contingent of sessions devoted to the modern issues of teaching history, and the modern adaptations of medieval history in art, literature, popular culture, media and so on.
I think two things I like the most about K-zoo — and what makes it worth the cost, the discomfort of complicated travel arrangements, and the penitential living conditions in the dorms — is how it renews my enthusiasm for working in this field, and all the book deals.
There is more to like and to say but with the kind of fatigue that would seem familiar to sailors re-gaining shore-legs, combined with disjointed episodic memory for the past 4 days, I’ll save further discussion for later.
Incidentally, my paper went well, better than expected really. That’s nice considering I re-wrote it around 6:00am, the morning I presented it. Didn’t need to change the power-point presentation at least.
Once my brain gets back into the regular weekly schedule I will add more on the conference, and that essay writing series.