26 October, 2007

The Impossibility Terror

Yesterday I got my hot little hands on Irina Metzler's excellent "Disability in Medieval Europe: Thinking about physical impairment during the high Middle Ages, c. 1100-1400."

I cracked it open this morning, and after ploughing through the first two chapters in mesmerised fascination, I sunk into the black pit of despair. This book is amazing. The methodology is sophisticated. The explanation of the difficulties posed by such an interdisciplinary field is eloquent and concise. I am so far from this bar I see set before me.

After a brief period, sanity returned, and I remembered that I'm not supposed to be at this level yet, and that is what the next 4, 6, 10 years are all about. So I am choosing to be inspired by it, and will probably snag a copy at next year's International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo.*

And in the meantime, I will meditate upon it in hopes of it helping me write my SSHRC application.

At last year's Medieval Academy of America meeting (or was it K'zoo?), I remember a discussion about us lowly students becoming fans of senior scholars. It's sadly, geekishly true. OMG!!1one! You wrote that book about medieval disability, and it was totally teh awesome! Can I have your autograph!?! Hmm. I wonder if that's what the open bars and wine hour are really about. They call it "socialising" and "networking," but really it's just an excuse to get the young'uns drunk enough to act like Japanese fangirls so they can enjoy the adulation.

That presents a disturbing enough mental image that I think it's time for me to quit writing.

* There are no less than three special sessions on disability proposed for the 43rd Congress. "(Ab)normal societies: Disability as a Socio-Cultural Concept in Medieval Society"; "Embodied Identities: Disability and Gender in the Middle Ages"; "Disability in the Middle Ages: a Roundtable Discussion". "The Representation of the Self in Medieval Discourse" also sounds interesting. This is a sub-field that's really starting to gain momentum!

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