How can we even begin to summarize all the glories of this year’s Kalamazoo? I know that kind of hyperbole always appears in these recap posts, but seriously, there was SO MUCH this year: great sessions (and tons in Art History), activist moments, and so many wonderful and inspirational colleagues everywhere.
Here’s a small taste:
The MC Speculatio session was really well attended, even though it was first thing Thursday morning. (Huge shout out and thanks to Beate Fricke for organizing!) We started off with Elizabeth Pastan, who asked us to speculate about the ways in which stained glass rose windows might have been received in their original contexts. Too often, rose windows are only considered by architectural historians as elements of design, but surely there is much more to see and to discuss about them.
Perfectly situated in the middle was Jennifer Borland who eloquently argued that scholars ought to embrace speculation as a method. She prodded us to consider the ways in which we already use speculation, often covering it with a veil of authoritative language. Why not be more transparent about how, when, and why we speculate on the Middle Ages?
Ittai Weinryb shared some fantastic examples of what he called “Medieval Tupperware,” raising the question of what makes a historical object worthy of scholarly attention. If something was mass produced, does that make it ineligible for study? How do museums and scholars elevate certain types of object and create a particular view of historical objects?
At the MC Business meeting on Friday, we talked about some great ideas for next year’s session, and we’re working on the proposal as we speak…
The combined BABEL/MC Reception on Friday night was a blast, as usual. One highlight was that we were able to pass around a proof of our new imprint from punctum books, Tiny Collections. The first volume, Walk on the Beach, is a combined artist’s book/conference proceedings, and it brings together the material from our session+flash exhibition at BABEL 2014 in Santa Barbara. It should be ready for purchase soon, so head on over to punctum in a few weeks or so and check it out!
We also want to highlight two important political moments at this year’s zoo. Many medievalists were seen wearing t-shirts that said “This is what a feminist medievalist looks like,” or a variation on that phrase. Members of the MC and many others were moved to publicize their own feminist scholarship and/or support of feminism in the wake of #femfog. It was great to see so many people willing to stand up for a cause, even in an academic setting.
And then there were the tweets. We tweeted our hearts out and are doing what we can to storify some of that now. Live tweeting and accessibility issues are on our minds!
Phew, we need a nap. See you next year!