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.