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Sunday, June 19, 2011

The 44th and 46th International Congress of Medieval Studies

This is the first year that I presented at the International Congress of Medieval Studies, which you can tell if you look at an earlier post, but it is not the first time I have ever attended.

44th International Congress of Medieval Studies

One of my favourite stories to tell is my trip to the 44th International Congress of Medieval Studies. I had asked my friend to go with me. She is not a medievalist per se, but she is interested in all things historical and I knew that if I could drag anyone to come with me, it would be her. She is not, how shall we say, the most organized of people to ever grace this planet. For the purposes of the story I will call her K.

I had personally helped K to fill out a passport application, as hers was expired, but day of she still didn't have it. So the day when we are supposed to leave we head over to the passport office, and it seems that it's never been processed because for some reason her fee has not been processed. So, no chance there. This is before they got stringent however, and we decided we would try to cross anyway. I proposed, instead of driving to Windsor from Toronto and crossing right into Michigan (the location of the conference) that we would go the shorter distance, to Niagara on the Lake, and cross into New York and go under the lake. Longer in the long run, but shorter if I needed to drive her back to Toronto. On the way down we did a bit of obsessing, and I mentioned, as a joke, that we could hide her in the trunk. She looked at me a little cock eyed, and I had to explain how we weren't actually going to do that. Good thing to, because once we got there, since we were going somewhere academic (probably also because we were young females) and because she had her old passport and health card, they let us across. They did, however, take a scan of the car. Bullet officially dodged.

We got to the other side, and had a lot more driving to do than we otherwise would have, but were basically kissing the American soil.

The 46th International Congress of Medieval Studies

If you want to make one of the border crossing officers actually smile tell them you are going to the International Congress of Medieval Studies. Don't, however, tell them about your paper, as they are amused and not necessarily interested.

I drove up on Thursday evening, and missed Wednesday and Thursday's sessions, but here are the sessions I did attend:


10:00 am
Session 199
Old Norse Literature and Culture - organized by Paul Acker, St. Louis Univ.

Warriors and Wild Beasts in the Heroic Poems of the Elder Edda
- Richard North, Univ. College, Univ. of London

This was the only presenter for this panel, the others had cancelled. It as a very convincing argument about the connection between wolves, bears and warriors. The premise was that when the warrior goes into battle he takes onthe qualities of an animal. Usually, as well, if they are a bear that is good and wolves are bad.

1:30 pm
Session 262
Twenty-First Century Medievalisms - presider Julie Nelson Couch, Texas Tech Univ.

"The Darkness of the Womb": Allegory and Early Medieval Historiography in S.M. Stirling's Emberverse
- Alicia McKenzie, Wilfred Laurier Univ.
This paper examined how the author not only interprets medieval society, but also how the author interprets medieval historiography and his rejection of the very rigid 'medieval' structure in favour of a fluid and adaptable one.

Rexiles: A Re-envisionist History of the Kings of Britain
-Aaron Long, American Univ.
Unfortunately I do not remember much about this paper.

What is the Impact of Popular 'Medieval Films' on the Public's Understanding of the Middle Ages? A Sociological Approach
- Paul B. Sturtevant, Univ. of Leeds
This looked at the impact of medieval film on popular understanding of the Middle Ages by conducting focus groups to talk about it with members of the public.

Concerning the Newfound Popularity of Lionheart's Acre Massacre in Video Game Narratives
- Carl S. Pyrdum, III, Yale Univ.
This paper was about the appearance of the massacre of Acre in video games. He traced the popularity of the event to it's appearance in Assassin's Creed, and compared it to it's appearance in Dante's Inferno. The conclusion was that while Dante's Inferno is less well done for a video game, it almost had a better treatment of the massacre because it was dealing better with the actual event, and the political correctness of Assassin's Creed limited their interaction with the event.


10:00 am
Session 369
Old Norse Literature - presider Jana K. Schulman, Western Michigan Univ.

Out of Silence, Vision: Helga's Gazing in Gunnlaug's saga
- Molly Jacobs, Univ. of California-Berkeley (Graduate Student Prize Winner)
This was a very interesting paper about how Helga's gaze actually makes her an active participant, as opposed to a passive character.

1:30 pm
Session 437
Nineteenth Century Medievalisms - organized by Richard Utz, Western Michigan Univ.

A Tale of Two Medievalisms: Muscular Christianity and the Tour de France
- Christine M. Havens, Hawkeye Community College
This paper argued that the Tour de France celebrates a tradition of masculine and muscular christianity, and uses medieval imagery to celebrate this. And there were so many parallels, including a disgraced hero named Lance.

Recovering a Not so Imaginary Past: Medievalism in Scott's Harold the Dauntless
- Renee Ward, Wilfred Laurier Univ.
This paper talked about the medievalism of Sir Walter Scott in one of his least loved works.

Ancient Mysteries: A Regency Printer Uncovers the Medieval
- Clare A. Simmons Ohio State Univ.
Unfortunately, Ido not really remember what this was about.

Transatlantic Medievalisms: Julian of Norwich's XVI Revelations in the East End and Harvard in the 'Hungry 40s'
- Vickie Larsen, Univ of Michigan-Flint
This looked at one nineteenth century translator's Julian of Norwich and the way that his era affected his work.

3:30 pm
Session 478
Twenty-First Century Medievalism: Re-envisioning the Medieval in the Contemporary World (A Roundtable) - organizer Michael A. Toregrossa, Vistual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages

Siegfried the Volk-Sung: Examining the Interpretations of Siegfried the Dragon-Slayer and the Making of a National History
- Peter H. Johnsson San Francisco State Univ.
This was a paper examining how this saga is used to make a national history in several different nations and how it is used in current popular culture.

Analysis of Arthurian Film Reviews
-Laurie Rizzo, Univ. of Delaware
This was a paper that really stuck with me, about how many couch their criticisms of King Arthur films in terms of their 'inaccuracy.'

Beowulf in the Twenty-First Century
- Suanna H. Davis, Houston Community College: Central
This paper was about the use of Beowulf in Science Fiction and how it is used to give layers to narrative, as a sort of specialized knowledge, where the authors assume we already have this knowledge.


Session 528
The Central Issue: What does the Public Actually Think about the Middle Ages? - organized by Paul B. Sturtevant, Univ. of Leeds

The Perceptions of Medieval Heritage among Modern Master Falconers
- Leslie Jacoby, San Jose State Univ.
This paper was about how faloners themselves see their art in relation to medieval falconry.

'Viking' North America: The North American Public's Understanding of Its Norse Heritage
- Megan Arnott, Univ. of Western Ontario

My paper!

10:30 am
Session 569
Saga Studies - presider Andrew M. Prefenger, Kent State Univ. - Salem

On the Paroemial Delineation of Character in Grettis saga
- Richard Harris, Univ. of Saskatchewan
A very interesting discussion of how literarily character is created.

Sisterhood and Female Friendship in the Islendingasogur
- Natalie Van Deusen, Univ. of Wisconsin Madison
A good paper that came to the conclusion that friendship amongst females did not really exist in the same way as it did amongst men. Men had friends and women had relatives.

I did not go to the dance. Not because I'm against dances, but mostly because I both went by myself and was presenting at 8:30 the next morning.

One of the best things about this particular congress was that I had the chance to talk one on one with so many professors in this field. I met with Profs. Acker, Schulman, Falk, Mellor and Hill and had a chance to talk about grad school in Norse studies in North America.

I look forward to my next congress. Thanks to everyone who came up to me and said they enjoyed my talk, and especially to Paul Sturtevant for organizing both the Society for the Public Understanding of the Middle Ages and for organizing the session.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for mentioning me, Megan! Sorry we didn't meet.