Kazoo Retrospective, pt. 1
Well, this is the first conference I haven't tried to blog in real time ... partially because my hotel did not have wireless as promised. But here's Day 1 (Thursday). Got up. Breakfast with roommate and colleagues from the blogosphere. Paper panic. Attended a session on Late Antiquity, where two of the panelists did not show, nor did they send papers. Rude. But the papers presented, both by grad students, were good. The first one was on voluntary exile in 6th c. Gaul, i.e., exile used as a form of political coercion. It was very convincing. And I just remembered that I forgot to ask the presenter a question when I saw her at dinner later that evening. Must e-mail her. I wish I'd been that self-possessed as a grad student. The second paper was also good, with lots of fun questions about ethnicity. Some fairly well-known Late Antiquity types asked questions, and the presenter handled them very well. My only objection? Call me stuffy, but I tend to think that, the more junior one is, the better dressed one should be. That is, if you are a woman, wear some sort of jacket at least, and if you are a man, wear a damned tie. Either way, comb your hair! (only one of the two students was guilty of this particular set of sins, btw).
Second session. Missed two panels that looked to be excellent, because I was giving my paper. Survived. Got questions. Other panelists were good, and I especially liked the last paper, whose author I've known for over 20 years, but never heard give a paper. It was really interesting, and there were some good issues raised in the discussion. My favorite part of that was when she and I were jointly asked a question, and pretty much came up with the same answer, despite the fact that our topics were only thematically related. I also feel far less sorry for myself trying to pronounce complicated Frankish family names, now that I've seen a friend having to deal with Anglo/Saxon names! One of the best parts of giving the paper was that I knew almost all of the small audience, and the people I didn't know were friendly. On the downside, I think the other two panels may have diminished the audience. Not a bad thing, but trust me to keep thinking that it went so very well because most of the audience were 'family'.
Off next to another Early Medieval/Late Antique-y session. First paper, by an very amusing Lion, was pretty off the cuff, it seemed. Lots of metaphorical talk about Owls and Roosters, but the Lion never got to the Turkeys and Bats. You kinda had to have been there. Still, the central argument was interesting. Second paper was by someone I've seen before. Maybe it was the afternoon catching up with me, maybe it was that the first presentation went long, and so the presenter was talking like an auctioneer, but I was a little confused, and surprised at being so. The final paper started slowly (again, I was tired, the room was hot, and I felt a bit dozey), but ended really well, with a couple of very interesting points regarding the possible identity of the author of a well-known poem. It was so nicely done that I really had to sit up and take notice. The presenter really made some great points about gender and education under the Carolingians, and handled some pretty critical questions very well. Even if the presenter is wrong, the questions and issues raised really made me sit up and think about certain aspects of Carolingian renaissance/renovatio.
Wine hour. Caught bus to dinner with subfield group. Proportionately, there were few women. Was surrounded by really nice people (scary Lions from Toronto and places east were on the opposite side of the room) and only one scary one. But is was really nice, Lions on either side, but also some Cubs, so the conversations moved around a lot. Missed the blogger meet-up because of it, though. Went back to Valley whatever, where I was to catch the shuttle back to town, but instead saw someone from my panel, so we caught a cab together with another colleague, and went out for a couple more drinks. Possibly martinis? Still in bed fairly early, which was a good thing, since I had to be at a round table the next morning...