Seeing as it’s become a bit on an online trend to make a personal list of ‘hots’ and ‘nots’ after attending a festival, I’ve decided to do one for the 2016 International Medieval Congress.
- Meeting incredible people: Spending a week surrounded by like-minded scholars, craftspeople and reenactors is just brilliant. It’s very rare that, standing at a bar, you can see ‘Vote Charlemagne’ t-shirts, ‘Embrace the FemFog’ badges, and hear conversations taking place about manuscripts and unicorns! I love medievalists.
- #MedievalTwitter: It was wonderful to see so many medievalists taking to twitter to share the main points of certain sessions – especially when I had clashes with other interesting things.
- Boydell & Brewer recipe books: This was such a good idea of Boydell & Brewer for a ‘food’ orientated congress. I was told they had 600+ copies and cleared the lot. Good work folks!
- Brilliant papers: Without fear of exaggerating, I bet there were hundreds more brilliant papers, but my highlights included: Kathleen Walker-Meike’s ‘Swallow a Frog and Avoid Croaking’ (paper 137-b); Jan Cemper-Kiesslich’s ‘Famous Persons, Infamous Poisons’ (paper 214-a); Hillary Burgardt’s ‘Looking for Epilepsy in the Medieval Record’ (paper 637-a); Carla Burrell’s ‘Focus on Paget’s Disease of Bone’ (paper 1614-a); and the Annual MAA Lecture ‘Manuscript Edges, Marginal Time’ presented by Elaine Treharne.
- #IMCAntiBrexit: The general sense of solidarity at the IMC in the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the EU was inspiring. I had been left heartbroken by the triumph of Brexit and the leave campaign, but the internationality and support at the IMC, coupled with the brilliant discussions in Tuesday night’s informal Post-Brexit chat were inspiring. Thanks go to Kathryn Maude and Kate Weikert for organising!
- #Femfog: I don’t even know where to start with s1198 ‘Embracing the #FemFog’ – it was just so moving! Not only knowing that my own experiences are not isolated, but seeing so many people committed to combating the misogyny inherent in the academic system was reassuring – the future looks like one of solidarity and progress. I could say so much about this session, but think it would be best to direct you the the #FemFog hashtag on twitter for full coverage.
- D-Art Francisca: Francisca Shilova is no stranger to exhibiting at the IMC’s annual Craft Fair and her work is completely stunning. Combining gold leaf, vintage watch-faces and manuscript marginalia, I first saw her jewellery at the IMC in 2015 and have been lusting after it ever since. You can find more information and some beautiful images on her website here!
- Mankind: Directed by Matthew Sergi and Ara Glenn-Johanson, and performed by Poculi Ludique Societas, this free performance of a 15th century morality play combined medieval music, wonderful acting and improvisation to elicit laugh-out-loud moments and contemplative reactions from the audience. Mankind was spot on!
- IMC Disco: Everyone knows that the disco is the highlight of the IMC – there’s nothing quite like seeing the author’s of your reading list dancing the Cotton Eye Joe. Although this year was super special, as Elaine Treharne briefly joined the band for a rendition of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’. Fantastic!
- Congress Ale stall opening at 5pm: It was a pity the Old Bar was closed to begin with, but not being able to get my medievalist mitts on a Congress Ale before 5pm was positively tragic! Don’t the Terrace know that ‘acceptable’ drinking hours are a lot earlier than normal during the IMC?
- Pub Quiz’s ‘Latin goes POP!’: Translating Latin scares me at the best of times. Translating Latin in public, after a couple of pints?..*shudders*
- #FemFog: Yep, this one makes both the hots and the nots list. Although this session was completely brilliant and undeniably emotional, it is worth pointing out that the audience was overwhelmingly young and female. Where were all the older, white male scholars? This session took place at LUNCH – so there couldn’t have been any clashes?! Although inspirational regardless, it would have been nice if this session hadn’t just been a case of ‘preaching to the converted’.
- Thursday morning: Waking up after the disco… Need I say more?
- The ‘Sampling of Traditional Cheeses’ selling out: I am a fiend when it comes to cheese, and was consequently so disappointed when I saw that this event was fully booked. Hosted by Andy Swinscoe, this tasting of eight traditional cheeses was accompanied by a talk about the medieval history of cheese tasting. I’d love to hear some more about from someone who was lucky enough to bag a ticket!
- Secondhand & Antiquarian Bookfair: More like ‘Book-unfair’! The Secondhand Bookfair simply had too many gorgeous things! I don’t think I’m alone in caving to temptation and spending more on books in one afternoon that I would spend on a whole week’s rent!
- Eating dinner after ‘Eye of Newt and Toe of Frog’: Witchcraft, Cannibalism and other forms of Food Adulteration (s1325): Finishing with at 6pm with Irina Metzler’s paper ‘Waiter, There’s a Hair in my Soup’, I couldn’t help but question how much saliva, mucus, skin flakes or other ‘bodily unmentionables’ had made it into my dinner that night. Yum!
Okay, so aside from the FemFog audience (and maybe the cheese tasting) my ‘nots’ aren’t that serious. In fact, I had a completely fabulous (and exhausting) week and felt very honoured to be surrounded by so many of my academic idols. Looking forward to the International Medieval Congress 2017 now!
Let me know your own highlights in the comments section.