So, it’s been a while since I updated, and now seems to be a decent time to do it! I’ve been buried under thesis work, the job, GMing, and various other pursuits recently so updating the blog hasn’t been high on the list of things to do. Hopefully, that’ll change pretty quick (yeah right, but we can hope).
I spent this weekend in New Haven, CT, for the 85th annual meeting of the Medieval Academy of America (which apparently has a blog now). I met a lot of very neat people, including future colleagues, and most of the men and women I met this weekend, quite a few of them luminaries in the field, were personable and very lovely. As a result of this meeting, University of Toronto, York University (Canada), Northwestern, St. Louis University, Cambridge University (UK), Harvard, and Yale have been added to the list of prospective schools. Loyola, U Chicago, Fordham, and Brown remain on the list. U of M has been dropped.
The conference itself was hosted on the campus of lovely Yale University, which was simply amazing (I’ll post pictures in the second installment of the post-mortem, as well as to the MedGrad Facebook group, as promised, since most folks weren’t carrying cameras). The campus is beautiful and New Haven itself was a very neat place to visit. If I get the opportunity to come again, I most certainly will.
Currently sitting in the Starbucks at the corner of Church and Chapel (yes, there’s an intersection of Church and Chapel!) and killing time before I have to catch my shuttle to Bradley International to fly back to Detroit this evening. I find myself thinking about all the very, very cool people I’ve met here, including Simon Meecham-Jones (whom I sat with at banquet on Friday), Nancy Partner (who advised me to read something more current than her Serious Entertainments, though I didn’t get the chance to ask her what I should read instead!), Barbara Newman (who told me to definately, definately, with much enthusiasm look at Northwestern for my Ph.D program after her panel on female devotional life and haigography on Thursday afternoon), Katherine Sale, some lovely people from UCLA, Fordham, and Sacred Heart, and Michael McCormick, who was probably the most enthusiastic scholar I met all weekend (Barbara Newman and a couple others ran fairly close seconds). He encouraged me to at least apply to the Harvard graduate program, even though it’s very competitive. Such a nice man, and he’s developing a program in archaeology that would be awesome for me–someday, if I’m not locked into a job or otherwise someplace! And he introduced himself to me and two other graduate students (whose names, I regret, I don’t remember! I remember my male dining companions (Joseph and Eric), but not theirs except to remember that one was from Ohio State University and the other was here at Yale and a first year graduate student) directly after the banquet on Friday night, as we were preparing to hike back to our hotels after missing the shuttles from the Commons to the hotels.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet the medievalist from Brown I’d intended to meet, but I’m sure that Tom (one of her graduate students that I did have the pleasure of meeting) can probably introduce me via e-mail to her at some point in the future if I ask.
Note to self: must get on the MedGrad list.
I’ve been seriously encouraged by everyone here to go to the Kalamazoo conference, the Medieval Institute conference, in May. It would be significantly less expensive than this trip, but I have to consider the feasability of taking the time off from work, ect. Jeff and Sebastian, amongst others, attempted to make the decision for me with regards to it (Jeff’s goodbye to me was a hug and the statement “I’ll see you in Kalamazoo.”). It was nice to actually meet Tom and Miti in person at the conference, and I’m sure I met even more people that I’ll come to know better on the MedGrad list.
There’s some observations that have to be made about medievalists, at least of my academic generation, and I’ll make them here. (1) It seems that most of us, in some capacity or another, write fiction (which is hysterical). (2) Most of us, on top of the fiction, are gamers (and several are GMs). (3) Oftentimes, we dress more…sharply? than some of our older colleagues in our fields. I guess when you get to be pretty eminent in your field, however, you can wear whatever you want. (4) Many of us are very interdisciplinary in our approach. (5) We’re pretty much more tech-savvy than most of our elders (and by elders, I mean most scholars 10+ years older than us). Why use powerpoint if you don’t know how to use the software? Really. Really! There were some people who were very, very good with it, and then there were some people…yeeeah.
Silly me, I ended up in a couple panels that concentrated on the Old English language, though I don’t actually regret going to them–they were extremely interesting. Some of my favorite papers, however, came out of panels dedicated to Jewish-Christian relations (I went to that one almost on a whim) and two papers dealing with medieval forests (one with the relationship between managed forests and romance and the other on the legalities of medieval forestry in the Champagne region of France). The conference, in short, was amazing, and I wish I had more time to go into greater depth regarding everything I learned, took notes on, ect. I wasn’t the only one at the conference here to shop Ph.D programs. There were a couple undergraduates that I spent some time with and some graduate students who, like me, are doing terminal programs and currently shopping around for their later programs (Annie, who I met last night and then took a tour with this morning, was one of those — she’s at UConn; I want to say her undergrad was at Rutgers).
There was a very interesting panel where I met Dr. Martin Foys and got to speak with him later regarding the Digital Mappaemundi Project, which was fascinating and amazing all at once. It may not help me yet, but it’ll help our intellectual children and grandchildren–hopefully. It’s one of those things that makes me lament the relative unavailability of primary source material on the internet and our dependence on other people’s money and whims to get those sort of sources digitized so everyone can benefit from what’s currently languishing dustily away in repositories across the world–things like the Lollard archives, which are relatively unexplored except for a select few documents, and are something that perhaps will never really be studied all that well considering the geographic limitations on archival research. Not everyone can drop everything (and several thousand dollars) on research trips to European archives or even to US archives. It’s very frustrating and a shame.
On a side note (and very tangentially related): the book rooms (yes, there were three, but they were classrooms, thus small) were amazing and I probably bought too many, though two of them, at the very least, will be very useful to my thesis research and another will probably be quite useful as I move foward in my studies. I also got two free books this weekend–one was swag from a panel my one of the grad student friends I made went to (he didn’t want the book/already had it/something) and the other was a preview copy of a book that I assume is coming out later.
I also have copious handouts from the conference, at least one of which is going to be mailed to Mr. Fry of Dear God What Have We Wrought?! because he’ll find it utterly fascinating (and will probably be jealous that I met and spoke with as many scholars of Old English as I did this weekend, Fred C. Robinson being amongst them). I’ll make a medievalist of him yet, I’m certain, and he’ll probably freak out to learn that there’s entire programs in Old English (I seem to recall him being bummed that they weren’t going to be spending a lot of time on Anglo-Saxon and Old English in his History of the English Language class).
I have two books tucked into my bag to read on the plane, though it remains to be seen whether I read either of them. Surprisingly enough, mentioning at dinner to Simon Meecham-Jones that I was reading Lesley Coote’s Political Prophecy in Later Medieval England got me the name of someone (I presume at Cambridge) that’s working on a book on politicla prophecy right now to potentially contact. He was a very cool guy to sit and have dinner with (we were seated at a far end of the room; a Dr. Bugbee from University of Texas – Austin was sitting there with us as well and a six students, including me). My only gripe about the banquet was that the filet mignon was too pepper-encrusted (usually, when they say pepper-encrusted, it doesn’t set my mouth on fire. This more than certainly did.).
The Commons, which I’ll post a picture of later, reminded everyone (and I do mean everyone) of Hogwart’s when they walked in. It was very cool. It was also, apparently, where they filmed the library scene from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls. Very, very cool.
That’s about all I have time for now — most post-mortem after I’m back in Michigan!