Monday, November 10, 2008

Haskins

Haskins


So, 30 papers in just over 48 hours. Exhausting. I did fall asleep a couple of times, less because of the papers than because of the lack of sleep. Got into town just in time to check into the hotel and get to the first talk, which was good. The speaker was slightly subversive in a way most people seemed to agree with, although I'm not sure many of us entirely bought the idea that Medieval Studies were not defensible in and of themselves. That was a question that came up several times during the conference, and it was interesting how so many of us (the historians, at least), from different generations, still had some similar ideas about what is important about what we do, and how we teach it.

The first actual panel had references to the Carolingians, which made me happy, even though I was not that convinced by one of the papers, although it had a really interesting premise. Still, one of the things about this conference, which I've never attended, is that it seems very collaborative. People were genuinely looking for advice and sharing, and that was nice. There was also a good panel on queens, one on masculinity at the courts of William Rufus and Henry I, and some nice number-crunching with charters, donations, and assarts.

The other really nice thing was that I saw lots of people I knew, and met some new folks who seemed really very cool. I got to have dinner with people I've known for close to a quarter of a century, and who are just as good to be with now as they were when I was an undergrad. And then I got to have a nice meal with people I've only known since I had actual academic jobs. More surprisingly, I saw people from grad school who I hadn't seen for 15 years, who seemed genuinely happy to see me. I know, this sounds really lame, but I've always thought of myself as someone who was on the outskirts of every social circle. So I find myself in these situations where I then worry about having not been as gracious as I could have been. Lately, my life has taken a couple of hits, and been such that I'm in that 'oh, they're just being nice' phase, and am probably a bit more awkward than I should be. So if you were one of those really nice people who tried to chat with me, and I seemed awkward or preoccupied or not as friendly as I should have been, please accept my apologies. Really, I was very glad to see you again.

Oh, except that one person I didn't know, but I knew who you were. You know, I am fairly sure that people who write nasty things about folks who go to Kalamazoo probably shouldn't go to Haskins or any other small conferences. Had I seen the name tag earlier than at the last get-together, I expect I'd have said something. Oh well, better not to have taken the opportunity to be snide, I guess.

But apart from that, I learned a lot of neat stuff, met some lovely people, and ended up totally wiped out, but energized. To me, that's a good conference.

12 comments:

Steve Muhlberger said...

You know,ADM, I have occasionally seen this low esteem and self doubt in the blog, but when I met you in person at last Kalamazoo there was no trace of it. I think you should recalibrate your self-image to be someone who is intelligent, charming, and attractive, not to mention fun to be with. I am sure there are times when you don't live up to this, but if you adopted this self-image you would be a lot closer to the truth as I see it.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Spoken like the true SCAdian model of chivalry that you are -- thanks, Steve! As I said, I'm still recovering from a fairly recent hit, but will work on it -- and then if we meet at Kazoo or Worldcon next year, you can tell me how well I've done ;-)

tenthmedieval said...

I'm with Steve on this, and have no code to live up to :-) But meanwhile: that was a name-tag I didn't see! Blimey. Now I'm going to be wondering which of the faces I should have noted...

Another Damned Medievalist said...

She was at the table you sat at at the final luncheon. Older, blonde, big glasses, jumper in sort of a canteloupe colour. And thanks!

I figure it's not a big thing to point out the person who wore a name tag corresponding to the name and uni of the person who wrote the article, because there's no anonymity implied or assumed.

sailorgrrl said...

I wish I had seen said name-tagged person myself...

I, too, found Haskins to be congenial and collaborative and was thrilled to receive the advice and suggestions of many (and also to hear that I'm not the only one having difficulty deciphering the material and charter evidence, or lack thereof). It's always exciting and inspiring to see the perspective of other disciplines, and find intersections and parallels where previously there were only lone points on a plane.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

And of course I'm wondering if sailorgrrl is the person I talked to about charters after I crunched her numbers ... Which means I will be even more careful about blogging the panels!

sailorgrrl said...

Hmmm... I suspect that I'm the presenter in the first session whose paper you found not entirely convincing? Or is that only my paranoia talking? Certainly, the aforesaid name-tagged individual had no difficulty naming names as she shamelessly misquoted people.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

I would never have guessed the charter bit, based on your paper! Although I had no idea you knew who I was :-) And it wasn't so much the paper so much as I'm really not sure that de villis is as universal as has long been accepted. My gut feeling is that, as we learn more about the Carolingian kingdoms as a whole, we're going to see that the capitularies were great as ideals, and may well have been in force in Western Francia through at least Charles the Bald, but I'm not sure that they ever really functional in the same way east of the Rhine.

When we get to the area that you are talking about, I totally get your point about willful imitation, but I wonder if, given the circumstances under which that big parcel of land was transferred, the guy in charge would have looked to that king and his laws for a model. And if the guys heirs are getting progressively stronger (which I think they were, but you are more of an expert there), while the king's heirs are getting progressively less able to maintain control in the localities (which still seems to be the conventional wisdom), then I'm just not sure about imitation 150 years after the initial contact.

I can think of a couple of other variables, though, if you want to email. Or you can tell me to shut up! Anyway, you were one of the people I was thinking of above, FWIW.

sailorgrrl said...

Emulation, imitation... it shows up in many, many ways, I'm finding. Although, as a non-historian, it's not as essential to find a paper-trail to the CdV as it is to point to similarities, and the lit points to a continued interest. Anyhoo, I would love to hear more of your thoughts and bat this back and forth -- tho the email address is at uni.edu (not as it is originally printed in the handout, even though the rest is the same).

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Oy -- for me, that's the problem -- continued for me means clear connection! But yeah, feel free to email -- I think my email is correct!

Profane said...

DANG! Sounds like I missed one of the most interesting panels as a result of my fly-by-night (or to be precise, drive to DC on Friday night) experience with Haskins this year.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Profane -- I did actually look for you, but never saw your name-tag!