Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Kazoo Retrospective, pt. 2

Kazoo Retrospective, pt. 2

Aha ... day two begins sans hangover. Yippee! And a darned good thing, because my panel was at 10:00. Oh -- and I'll say publicly here that, if they must add additional sessions, move the plenaries to evening sessions and have a few more papers in an early morning slot. But anyway ... caught a ride into campus with New Kid and CelandineB, and went on to my panel. It was really pretty interesting. Very gender-imbalanced, although the single male was not bothered by it at all. It was a really nice mix of disciplines -- three lit people, three historians. The audience was also very interested and interesting, so that there was a lot of good conversation during and after.

Lunch with a colleague I've known for a while, and another colleague whom I'd seen around for quite some time at early medieval panels, but never met. Both colleagues have a strong secondary interest in sf, and knew each other pretty well, so we got to kibbitz on all kinds of fun Tolkein-y and sf things while two of us ate very salty batter that ostensibly covered a piece of fish ... it was about a 3:1 ratio. Then off to a Late Antique/EMA panel, where we met up with The Cranky Professor.

The panel was interesting. A paper on Bede and miracles, which seemed very clear, but unfortunately, I seemed to have post-lunch dozes, so I had trouble following. Definitely a listener problem, because the notes I did take were very clear. Still, I think the paper was a bit overshadowed by the next two. The second paper was one of the two that particularly interested me (I'm just not an Anglo-Saxonist ...) -- ethnogenesis and Thuringians in the same paper! It was less new and stunning than I'd hoped, but there was a lot of great historiographical information, and the presenter made it absolutely clear where he stood on some of the issues. Still, I ended up a bit disappointed, because I'm really more interested in what happened to the Thuringians after Radulf took over in the 7th c. than I am in where they came from. On the up side, it was clear that the presenter believed that there was a clearly separate group of people who could be called Thuringians for whatever reason. But again ... where did they go? Are the Thuringians mentioned in the Annales Fuldensis at all related to the Thuringians who were ruled by Basinus? Or the Thuringians of Radulf? Or the Thuringians of Heden and the so-called Würzburger dukes? To me, this is a far more interesting question. As an aside, the question session for the paper was entirely predictable.
The last paper at the session was truly enjoyable. Vikings! Given by a very bright and entertaining British scholar, the paper raised some wonderful questions and the presenter made som excellent points about the limits of archaeology in dealing with the problems of secondary settlement in the Danelaw and elsewhere. One of the things I found most useful was the notion -- which really needs to be brought up much more often -- that migrants don't only end up somewhere, but they also come from somewhere. It is, after all a process, and we can't isolate the parts and do a good job. Even the somewhat hurried ending didn't hurt the overall impact of the paper.

Intravenous coffee, followed by rushing off by myself to join most of my Beachy U friends at a High Middle Ages panel (hey, I started as an Anglo-Normanist!) sponsored by the same group that had sponsored my paper. The first paper was really good -- and useful to me (yay!). Monastic donations again, this time mostly Marmoutier and a review of donation patterns and the occasional dual roles played by nobles who took up the monastic life. The second paper was a very nice discussion of types of lordship, that is, ways of categorizing lordship in terms of functionality and symbol. A good graduate paper by a student from Grad U on anger and chivalry and other such things. Again, the late afternoon doldrums were hitting, and I was unable to give the paper my full attention. Still, it was so different from the type of stuff I do that it was really refreshing -- all about what's in the texts and the language ... The final paper was a blast. The presenter took on the "F" word and really brought up some good points. Rather than dealing with the "did it exist?" question, the paper looked at when we can see evidence of the use of terms normally associated with the "F-word" in one very small area over a defined time, to see if there was evidence for an increase in usage. Despite some very good critical questions on types of source material and some very judicious caveats offered to the author, I think the ideas for methodology were very sound and might help to re-examine some basic issues without really disturbing the Brown-Reynolds-Ganshof-everybody else discussion.

After the papers, arrangements for lunch the next day, and off to the Avista reception, where a couple of my friends bought and assembled their own replica astrolabes. After that, two of us from the morning panel spent far too much time trying to find our way to the dreadfully mislabeled hotel shuttle and far too much time, once it arrived, waiting for it to get us downtown for dinner. Still, after quickly changing into more comfortable clothes and hitting the money machine, we joined the rest of our group at a very nice Bistro for a yummy dinner and great conversation. Home late to cope with overeating, and bed.

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