Like looking for a needle in a stack of slightly different needles

The preliminary session catalogue for the 48th International Congress of Medieval Studies is out. The Congress, hosted for more than 48 years at the charmingly institutional grounds of Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo Michigan is affectionately called The Zoo by most, and K-soo be PBS. There are over 800 papers spread over 4 days. Free footnote curiosities for the readers who correctly identify my humble (and potentially problematic) contribution!*

*Some restrictions apply. Contestants who know the super-secret identity of PBS are ineligible. Footnotes may not actually fascinate or edify. For entertainment purposes only. Do not take intravenously. Prizes are non-transferable. Void in Uruguay.

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Where are my juridical privileges?

Bartolus de Saxoferrato (1313-1357) a Bolognese jurist, constructed one of the more ingenious arguments for special legal and social privileges for academics. The legal codes of Justinian defined the athletic hero as one who survived “at least three trials of courage in competition.”* Bartolus reasoned that the heroic trials of the academic began during the student years with constant testing by the Masters. The second trial took the form of the private disputation — the equivalent of the thesis defence. The final trial was the public disputation under the scrutiny of the University and the academic public. We might understand this now as the conference paper. Bartolus went further than the Roman legal precedent and claimed that his contemporary academic trials were the same, conceptually, as the joust and deeds of arms that defined the martial elites.

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