Friday, May 23, 2008

A conrep, of sorts

A conrep, of sorts


Since I'm finally done with the post-conference catching up, I thought I'd post something about this year's K'zoo, as experienced by ADM...

Panel highlights:

Kulikowski on Ammianus and the dating of book 31 (I think -- I was a minute or two late). Absolutely convincing and elegant, I thought (the paper!), especially in terms of the dating argument. Followed by a couple of interesting papers on Sidonius that elicited good questions. Then a very tight paper by Andy Cain on Jerome's adoption and use of a phrase found only in the younger Pliny.

Duelling Bachrachs! (actually, not so much of the duelling -- in fact, it was a very collegial panel), followed by a mad rush across campus to hear a paper on Dragontius, which was lucid and made me laugh to hear parts of Ghostbusters quoted!

Coin hoards on e-bay!! Bryan Ward-Perkins on what looks to be a really neat project (Late Antique statues), and a good paper by a very brave grad student on natural disasters and civic reconstruction.

If you've noticed a theme, yes, I was mostly at the really early papers -- there were very few Carolingian ones this year. Went to another LA panel in the afternoon, where I ended up getting ideas to send to LDW for his current project, and sat through one paper that managed to connect the Battle of Omdurman (implied through a poor choice of illustrations) to LA church councils.

Early Medieval stuff at last! Two papers that were very interesting, although I'm not sure I bought them entirely. Still, the discussion was fab, and all kinds of Big Names (and some of us not-so-big ones) jumping in to ask questions. There were responses to all of the questions, although not exactly answers. And a note to presenters ... some of us find it really distracting when you constantly lean/step backwards and forwards whenever you speak.

After that, another good bunch of papers, including one by Paul Fouracre on perpetual lighting. I wish I'd been looking at my documents before the conference, and the paper made me realise just how much more I need to know about various types of land transactions. If anybody has some good basics, feel free to send me references. The problem is that I'm working with a set of documents where the editor just calls them traditiones, venditiones, etc., and one has to read through to see if they are praecarial grants, and even then the words aren't always used...

Oh -- and my panels were good, too! Fantastic discussion (I thought) between the audience and some of my co-panellists, and the panel I chaired was really, really impressive.

Social Highlights:

Lunch with Beachy U friends -- I was at loose ends, and went down to Valley III, where I kind of expected to see them, and there they were!

Blogger meet-up!!!! But sadly, none of the folk from ITM were there. Still, I met lots of new folk, and didn't get to spend enough time with some of them.

Wine hour with narsty yet cheaply seductive K'zoo wine, and then off to a dinner, where my friends and I arrived and sat by ourselves -- until we were all of a sudden a packed table of wimmins! Seriously, one person I've always found very intimidating, and a bunch of people I should have found intimidating, but it was terribly fun!

Dinner with Tiruncula and Meg and a few other really cool folk.

More wine hours -- more subdued than last year. Met lots of nice people, and re-met a few more. Promised a senior colleague I would try to catch up with him in an Oxbridge-y place this summer. Was reminded yet again how truly generous people some of the people in my field can be.

Wonderful dinner with Steve Muhlberger, Lisa Carnell, Mike Drout, the Digital Medievalist, and MacAllister Stone, too! Some talk of medieval history and lit, but lots more talk about things Whedon, Tolkien, Frank Herbert, and even more on the sf/f side of things. Shouldn't have had dessert, though -- I think it wiped me out, because I honestly couldn't stay at the dance for more than an hour. But that was cool, because Extremely Cool Colleague and I hadn't had much time to catch up, even though we were sharing a room!

The trip back:

Weather. Not actually in Kalamazoo. In Chicago and Atlanta. Eejits in Kazoo airport couldn't decide on whether to put us on buses or not. So they sent us through security, and then after a couple of hours brought us back to put us on a bus, maybe, and then decided no, we were taking our plane, maybe. And then it was a mad dash to get back through security to get to the plane, then (a good thing, considering I got to O'Hare about 3 hours late) waiting for a couple of hours for my plane, back at about 2 am, and back to work!

It was a good K'zoo, but I missed a lot of friends, and didn't spend enough time with the ones I did see.

4 comments:

tenthmedieval said...

"After that, another good bunch of papers, including one by Paul Fouracre on perpetual lighting. I wish I'd been looking at my documents before the conference, and the paper made me realise just how much more I need to know about various types of land transactions. If anybody has some good basics, feel free to send me references. The problem is that I'm working with a set of documents where the editor just calls them traditiones, venditiones, etc., and one has to read through to see if they are praecarial grants, and even then the words aren't always used..."

This may not be much help, but I'm usually very sceptical of studies that do this proper diplomatic distinction between sales and donations and exchanges, and so on. The verb the scribe uses to describe what's going on isn't always what's actually happening. It's the sort of thing that's useful in bulk (e. g. about 50% of documents at Vic d'Osona are sales, 30% donations and the rest something else; that does say "here is an active land market", but it also leaves unasked, "why is all this stuff in the cathedral then eh?") but dangerous in specifics. I guess Fulda is perhaps best done in bulk though... All the same, there's the theory that a lot of Anglo-Saxon charters of donation are really sales where the price is left unmentioned; there are donations with counter-gifts, and how aren't they exchanges? Because the scribe says they're donations, so is that significant for mentalités, or is he just goofing off? And when an exchange is paid with movables not land, why isn't that a sale? Come to that, why do we say exchanges aren't sales in the first place? You know? How much use is the category?

However, to actually answer the question, where I usually go when I want an over-simplistic diplomatic cliché to subvert is: Léopold Genicot, Les actes publiques, Typologie des sources du moyen âge occidental A.III.2, fasc. 3 (Turnhout 1972), with a mise-au-point in the same series (Turnhout 1985), and for actually setting out the categories and saying what an eschatocol is and so on in short order, it's quite handy. French though; surely for German-readers Bresslau's Handbuch der Urkundenlehre is all you need for these technicalities? Apologies if I'm dragging up your undergraduate reading here rather than being useful.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Sadly, my undergrad stuff -- and my grad stuff till I started working on the thesis -- dealt with zero land transactions. Pretty much everything I've learned about them I've taught myself, and it's been a matter of reading Latin and osmosis, in terms of expecting that there's more going on than is in the actual doc.

In some ways, it's nice, because I can look at the stuff without worrying how they fit into the pigeonholes that scholars have decided exist, but in others, it can be a bitch, because there's always a chance there's some obvious thing I'm missing ...

But now I have to catch up on the background. *sigh*

Thanks!

tenthmedieval said...

Well, I didn't look at charters at all till I got to Masters level, though I did at least get some coaching there, so I'm not so very far ahead. A further thing that I read yesterday and thought of you for: Timothy Reuter, "Property transactions and social relations between bishops and nobles in early eleventh-century Saxony: the evidence of the Vita Meinwerci" in Wendy Davies & Paul Fouracre (edd.), Property and Power in the Early Middle Ages (Cambridge 1995), pp. 165-199, is firstly interesting and secondly has quite a lot about how the Church blur prices out of reciprocal gifts and so on, and it's more relevant to your area than most of what I know.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

That's one of those books I've finally decided to buy, I use it so much ...