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Friday, June 7, 2013

University of Victoria, Home of the 'Vikes': Canadian Society of Medievalists Annual Congress 2013

University of Victoria VikesI'd never been to Victoria before, the furthest west that I'd ever managed was Regina Saskatchewan. If it weren't for my first travel grant I wouldn't have really been able to go. I've also never been to a meeting of the Canadian Society of Medievalists, so all in all, this was a trip of firsts. In fact they were conflicting firsts, because I found my desires to do tourist things and desires to do conference things often were at an impasse. As soon as the plane landed and I saw the mountains and the sea of green in front of me, I am not sure that tourism didn't win. But, I think that, in the end, I got a good dose of both. To other tourists/conference goers to the city of Victoria I highly recommend renting a car if you can, because the University is quite a distance from the downtown. 
Also I can't let the fact that the University of Victoria's sports teams are called the Vikings, and are represented by this lovely horned helmet go unmentioned. It was such a nice backdrop. 
I managed to turn my seminar paper "Alfred the Little: Medievalism, Politics and the Poet Laureate" into a conference paper for this year's meeting of the annual Congress of Medieval Studies. Since it is not about something directly in the medieval time period, this meant I was at the very end of the conference.

I missed much, but the quality of the presentations I saw was higher than at Kalamazoo, only because more people had practiced speaking skills, whereas Kalamazoo has some excellent speakers and some who are new to presenting. But I really enjoyed the papers that I was lucky enough to see. 
Sunday June 2, 2013

9:30 am George Clark - "Placing the past on parchment"

This talk was a really interesting summary of the spacing and textuality of the manuscript of Chronicle A, from around the years of the Battle of Maldon. A clearer picture of Scribes 4 and 5 also developes, with Scribe 5 taking on the character of someone who is really interested in representing history.

10:30 am -12:00 Representations of Monasticism

Jenny Weston - "How 'monastic' is the Monastic book?"

This paper was clearly articulated with an excellent slideshow that showed that some elements which are supposed to be scholastic, are carried over into a percentage of texts used for reading in the monastery in the Netherlands where Jenny Weston is doing her research. She has compiled a database, and is looking at how books were constructed for the monastery, and what that says about the reading habits of monks. However, the chapter titles, the margins that in scholastic books are used for notes, do not carry the same connotations in the books designed for monk usage. In fact only a small percent use these techniques. Mostly the books show that they were meant to be read and re-read, and that the monks were not encouraged to make notes like scholastics were. It was a very interesting paper.

Stephanie Morley - "Whensoever ye be touched;': monastic habits and daily necessities in A Dyurnall for Devoute Soules"

This paper showed that A Dyurnall for Devoute Soules was different from other instructional religious texts, because it advocated a strictly organized routine, mixed with a laissez faire attitude that promoted praying when the mood struck you. The practical nature of the text shows that it was intended not for religious, but for lay people. It was for those people interested in emulating the lives of the religious.

Brandon Alakas - "Shakespeare's Medievalism and the Life Removed: Depictions of Religious in Measure for Measure"

This paper showed that, despite the entrenched demonization of religious in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, Shakespeare often employs sympathetic (though not entirely unflawed) religious characters. These include the Friar in Romeo and Juliet, but it is particularly interesting in Measure for Measure. The paper also proposes that the choice is often of a Friar, because they had varied responsibilities and were apparent in varied places,they had a mixed life, making them ideal for their usage in Shakespeare's dramas.

Monday June 3, 2013

1:30 pm - 3:00 pm Medieval Emotion

Spencer Young - "Avarice and the Emotions in thirteenth century Moral and Pastoral Discourses"

Avarice is an umbrella for quite a number of sinning activity in the thirteenth century. Crimes of usury fell under the heading of avarice. Most interesting where the texts, such as Paraldus, which stated that leaving money you got through usury to your children is still selfish because it does nothing for your soul, and endangers the souls of your children.

Donna Trembinski - "Roland of Cremona's Scholastic Appraisal of Sadness (1229)

In Roland of Cremona's text says that sadness, as an act, is sinful, though it is less sinful in those that are melancholic by nature than in those who have other natures and indulge in sadness. At the UNiversity of Paris, where Roland became a Master after an incident where many of the Masters had left, he is representing an interesting intersection between theology and medicine, since the humours can determine one's mood, and certain moods can be sinful.

Marc Cels - "A Pastoral or Academic Approach to Wrath in Thomas of Ireland's Dictionary of Quotations, the Manipulus florum (1306)?"

The Manipulus florum represented a theory of wrath that treated it more positively than it is treated in many other texts. It recognizes that there is a good and righteous wrath that can be exercised appropriately. This is what separates it from instructional texts for preaching.

3:30 pm - 5:00 pm - Women @ the Edge

Joanne Findon - "'I have loved you for a long time': Fairy Lovers, Liminal Women, and the Female Journey'"

This paper is a small part of a larger project that is looking at women's subjectivity in romantic encounters between this world and the other world in Irish literature. The subject of this paper was specifically about mortal women who meet an other worldly man, and who, since they have sons, have their experience elongated, told over the course of their son's maturation as well. These tales involve women who are already unhappy in some way with their temporal lot. Often the lover comes with a protestation that they, though they were absent, were in love with the subject for a long time. In some ways, though the encounters are often problematic, the wishing of the women has summoned the men to the encounter.

James Weldon - "The Troublesome Monstrosity of the Lady of Sinadoun in Lybeaus Desconus"

In Le Bel Inconnu, the Lady of Sinadoun is monstrous, but when she kisses the hero, her dragon exterior melts away and she is revealed to be beautiful. There are interesting parallels with the like of St. Margaret, who makes the cross inside the dragon, and is released. Both are linked to children and childbirth. This problematizes even further the fact that the body, which the beautiful maiden emerges from, is monstrous, suggesting a monstrosity inherent in women, one that can trace its theoretical roots back to classical ages.

Kenna Olsen - "At the edge no more: Middle English Women's claim of textual space"

This was a really interesting presentation, using a presentation tool I hadn't seen before, This looked at women's engagement in the epistellary tradition, by looking at the letters of three different women from 1156-1537. The letters are all in English, and they are mostly written to request financial aid. What is interesting is that it shows that women were aware of the letter writing tradition and so had some integration in the literary tradition. This is good, because there is a silence  from women about their involvement in the textual world of the Middle Ages. However, there is also evidence that the letters may have been written, at least some of them, by a professional scribe, through dictation.

Tuesday June 4, 2013 Understanding the Medieval

Andrew Klein - "The Rhetoric of Independence: The Wars of Scottish Independence, Then and Now"

For the upcoming Scottish referendum, the SNP has decided to steer clear of any associations with the medieval past to push for a yes vote for Scottish independence in 2014. they don't engage at all with the rhetoric of the past. However, there is a popular adherence to figures like William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and the battle of Bannockburn. The association is being made in any case, so Klein argues that the SNP should embrace an interpretation of the past as a tool, because otherwise they will have no stake in how these nationalistic images are used. I am not sure I agree with the conclusions, but I found this discussion of the political use of the past, and the discussion of the effects of the middle ages on the popular consciousness to correspond the most to my own work, and so it was to me the most interesting presentation. This is no doubt why we are in the same panel.

Noelle Phillips - "Piers Plowman, Popularity, and Pedagogy'

This looked at how studying Piers Plowman, and the tradition of Piers Plowman together in one class can stimulate discussions that will make it more interesting to learners and also will generate discussions about texts that are not as frequently studied. It can also generate modern interest in Piers Plowman.


I can only say that I think it went quite well. People laughed at the appropriate times.

I also went to the banquet, got three free books from the society, and went to the fanciest President's Reception that I have ever been to. I managed to sneak in also a visit to Fort Rodd and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site, Whale Watching, went to Fisherman's Wharf, did the Ghost Walk and visited Craigdarroch Castle. Victoria was lovely.