Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Trying to gear up

Trying to Gear Up

Ok -- the school year and conference crap are over. I should be working on research, no? Except that I'm teaching a summer course so that I can afford my research trip, and I'm moving in 10 days. So this is not the post on gearing back up. This is the post that holds the place of that post. Meanwhile, I need to get to the gym and then to the office. And then go get more boxes. Eep.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Was she at the same conference?

Was she at the same conference? (warning: here be swearing)

Oh, for fuck's sake. Just ... can someone please bring me a clue stick?

A better question -- Why bother? Because let me tell you, it's not generally a good idea to go to conferences to pick out the papers you don't like. Some of us actually go to Kalamazoo and manage to go to plenty of good papers. Of course, maybe it's because I do the Late Antique and Early Medieval rounds, and we're still all about being stodgy proper scholars? Doesn't keep us from the wine hours and the dance, though.

Thank goodness for Scott Nokes, who has a much better post than I can manage at the moment. The comments there are good, too. And thanks, sort of, to Dr. Virago for pointing it out.

Basically, Charlotte Allen is the worst sort of big, fat liar with an agenda -- the kind who includes just enough of the truth that some things can't be denied. Yeah, there's more theory at the Zoo than you can shake a stick at, and some of it I can't fathom. And some of the papers have ridiculous titles and are on subjects than lots of us think are pretty silly. Me, I'd rather see some of the more lightweight stuff ditched rather than have the evil Thursday night session of doom -- but then I'd be fine with a couple of 8:30 a.m. sessions rather than an evening session.

But generally, it's just a bunch of half-truths cobbled together by a crank. Yeah, K'zoo is the cheaper conference for USians -- and perhaps there are more North Americans (Canada is actually a different country, last time I looked -- Canadians count as international) there than folks from other places, but you know what? Those cheap dorm rooms also make it possible for our foreign colleagues to make it there. And there are lots of them. Really. Ms. Allen, I knew there were well over 3,000 medievalists in the world. It's one of the reasons the job market is so tough -- not that you'd have first-hand experience of that yet. And it's not just the poor, bedraggled non-ivy folk who stay in the dorms (and I'm certainly not up there with the glitterati, but ever since LDW and I went to my first Zoo, I've stayed at the Rad. Shuttle service, good beds, and quiet, thanks) -- lots of the Big Names stay in the dorms, too. I actually get shit about this from some of my colleagues who are big names -- Fellows of the Medieval Academy -- who stay in the dorms, and think I'm a big wuss.

And apparently, there are no Important People who attend the conference. Let's see -- maybe that's true for the some fields, I guess. But I find it hard to believe anybody in my field would say that Ralph Mathisen, Danuta Shanzer, Paul Fouracre, Bryan Ward-Perkins, Bernard Bachrach, Charles Bowlus, Thomas FX Noble, Patrick Geary, Judith Bennett, Barbara Hanawalt, Paul Hyams, Florin Curta, Michael Kulikowski, Walter Goffart (not there this year, but a frequent attender) ... you get the idea. If they aren't Important, maybe Ms. Allen forgot to send them the memo? Because you know? I have a PhD from a reputable R1 program, and I've met at the Zoo probably 2/3 of the people whose work I needed to read to pass my comps. The ones I haven't met? A bunch of them are singing with the choir invisible. Or they go to Leeds. Even the Big Names can't go to ALL the conferences! When it comes to the up-and-coming scholars, it's also the place to be. There are some pretty cool projects that come out of those wine hours, after all.

Speaking of things that come out ... that excrement stuff? Dunno -- didn't go. Because I go to the Zoo to learn new stuff relevant to what I do (as well as to socialize). But I do know a couple of historians who work with shit. That is, they do archaeological and ecological stuff, and those people can find some cool stuff by looking at middens. But you know, you'd have to think in order to get that far. Ms Allen is going for the cheap shots.

I suppose she's right about our dress sense -- Many of us dress sensibly, rather than at the height of fashion. Some are old and famous and don't care. Some are young and don't have the cash to waste on being fashion plates for people who care more about the quality of our minds and our scholarship -- and possibly, about whether we are nice people -- than about our clothes. Some of us have been to the Zoo enough to know that only crazy people try to hike from the Valleys to Schneider in heels! But most of us show up in presentable professional garb, appropriate to our age and station. Kind of like people in general.

I'm not entirely sure what her beef with the dance is, except that she seems to believe that there are age and weight restrictions on having fun? Me, I kind of like seeing the different styles of dancing, which reflect generational AND geographical difference. But then, it's hard to appreciate much about the Zoo when you've got such a giant stick up your ass that it's grown through to form an incoherent chip on your shoulder.

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.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Carnivalesque XXXIX

Carnivalesque XXXIX

Hey everybody -- somewhen while I was writing a conference paper that just about killed me, the ever-fab Jon Jarrett has posted the latest Ancient/Medieval Carnivalesque. If you don't know Jonathan's blog, you really should go. It was mentioned many a time at the Zoo this year, because it's one of the really erudite and scholarly medieval blogs. I know what my internet breaks will consist of today!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

sunday funny

Sunday Funny

Because I'm still writing that damned paper.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More drive-by Kazoo Blogging

More drive-by Kazoo Blogging -- RBOK version

Still writing a conference paper and getting together a proposal to send to Matt Gabriele tomorrow, but before I forget ... some conference highlights:

  • OMG People!! Mike Drout is like, totally famous in Taiwan! His fans squeed over him AND took pictures with him
  • I had my own (subtle, I hope) fan squee -- I met Bryan Ward-Perkins and was not a complete dolt, I don't think
  • I discovered that a senior medievalist from the other coast, who has always scared the heck out of me, and about whom I had heard rumours of unkindness, is not above gently teasing a nervous panel chair auf Deutsch
  • Cornell seems to have cornered the market on really good dancers
  • The people I had dinner with on Saturday night are awesome -- more on that later!
  • Notorious, PhD and I know we know each other from somewhere, but can't figure out where. OH! maybe MAA when it was in Seattle? Anyway, one of the people on the panel I chaired really likes the Girl Scholar's blog!

Right, back to the paper.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Watch this space

Watch this space

So I have a gajillion things to do, but need to remind myself that I need to post about the absoeffinglutely craptastic trip home from the Zoo, where YOU PEOPLE WHO WORK FOR UNITED IN KALAMAZOO??? YES, YOU!!!!! YOU ARE THE MOST FRAKKIN', GORRAM INCOMPETENT MISFITS EVER TO BE EMPLOYED BY A MAJOR AIRLINE!!!!

Seriously. If there were awards in boobish incompetence, these people would get all of them. Ever.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Meetup over

Meetup Accomplished

OK -- this is way too funny. I'm blogging this from the computer bank in Fetzer, where someone who logged on earlier had logged on and looked at this site to find out where the meetup was! Attendees were Steve Muhlberger, Ancarett, New Kid, Tiruncula, Dr. Virago, Dame Eleanor, meg, MacAllister Stone, Digital Medievalist, and Lisa Carnell (I don't think I left anybody out). Scott Noakes showed up at the end. If you missed us, check the wine hours in Valley III later.

I made a promise to start blogging substantial things again, but not till I'm done with the conference (which I shall blog) and my paper for the next conference ...

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Think the Humanities are important?

Think the Humanities are important? Sign the petition!

Lots of people are writing
about this situation at the University of Toledo.

I am really sorry that I haven't time to blog properly on this -- regular, thoughtful blogging will recommence after May 15. But it is something that bothers me, as I see evidence of this sort of thought even at SLAC, where my school is seen primarily as a n unwelcome service necessity -- some of the other schools can't exist without those of us who teach a traditional university liberal arts curriculum. I fight this regularly, and it makes me really angry. Things at Toledo are much worse. If this sort of thing bothers you, Go Sign The Petition.

Kazoo meetup post #3 -- time adjustment?

Kazoo meetup post #3 -- time adjustment?

Ok -- is anybody actually planning on going to the plenary? Because I've been reminded that 7:30 is awfully early, and the first actual session isn't till 10 ... so I'm thinking 7:45 or 8 might be a bit more civilized ...

Otherwise, I'll be there at 7:30, I guess, with some sort of super-sekrit token of my identity.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Making us cry in hope and anger

Making us cry in hope and anger

Bitch, PhD has posted some amazing links today.