21 May, 2008

Kalamazoo Round-up, Day 1!

I slept in.

The book sales start at 8am Thursday morning, and since I did not intend to buy much this year (AHAHAhahaha...) I decided not to get up and fight my may through the crowds of people angling for the display-copy discounts. At 10am, though, I headed off to my first session, (Ab)normal Societies, which was pretty good. Before this, I had never seen a lecture delivered via sign language, and watching how that worked was pretty cool (though I felt bad for the interpreters who didn't know the Latin terms we were throwing around). I'm glad I was actually paying attention to the presider when she introduced the first speaker, because I heard her say he was going to be attending the University of York soon. Hey, that's my school! I am usually very quiet during Q&A, because I am shy, but afterwards I introduced myself to the speaker, Greg (who I have already introduced to you), and to another scholar in the audience. (We had a nice discussion of insanity and Judaism, and I'm eagerly awaiting translation of his book, because it sounds fascinating.)

Lunch was all kinds of fail. The vegetarian entree was half of a strawberry-nut-maple wrap, and even though I was annoyed that they were serving me dessert and not a proper meal, I made sad eyes at the serving lady and she snuck me another half. The soup was good, though. Somewhere around lunch time, I was making my way around the book rooms, when David came running up to me with a copy of Sandra Billington's A Social History of the Fool: "Alison, look what I found! There was only one, and I grabbed it right away! Here! I'm not telling you how much it cost, and anyway I get reimbursed by the university."* This is why he is called Excellent David.

After lunch we went to an awesome presentation on catapults, put on by three high school students and their teacher. They had spent the past two years researching and constructing a miniature medieval catapult. I have to say, those kids had guts. They were presenting to a roomful of the people whose books they'd used as research. And even though it was obvious they didn't know how to pronounce all the words they used (tree-tises and tray-buckets), they used them correctly. I was already feeling pretty exhausted, so partway through, I left and had a nap. I'm told that the rest of the presentation was just as good, and by the end everyone was trading tips and problem-solving back and forth.

I slept through the next session, too. It had been a busy week, I guess.

I made it back downstairs in time for the inaugural meeting of the Society for the Study of Disability in the Middle Ages. We are reaching critical mass, people. Medieval disability studies is beginning to organise itself and by next year's k'zoo, we will be out there kicking down doors and demanding to be considered a legitimate field of our own. It was very refreshing, being in a room full of scholars who cared about the same thing. Validation is a marvellous thing.

Dinner was better than lunch, I think.

After dinner, I am sure I went to a session, but it slips my mind. Then it was time for the open bars - and the Congress specialises in open bars. If you want to, you can drink for free from about 5pm until the booze runs out at 10 or 11. The University of Toronto's reception is especially popular, and it was there that I ran into Greg again - and this time, we had a long and hilarious discussion. Rachel, the scholar who had organised the session that morning, helped to translate for us, but it got difficult as we got drunker and more voices joined in. Still, she did an admirable job, and I think the highlight for me was trying to explain Screech and its customs.

At some point I wandered off to ask David if we were going to be playing Latin Scrabble that night (so I could invite Greg and Rachel, if they wished), but I got waylaid by an interesting discussion with a scholar from Saskatchewan and by the time I made it to David, almost everyone else had gone to bed.

We still played Latin Scrabble, though, and I kicked everyone's butts. We discovered the next morning that I had actually won the Wednesday night game as well, on a technicality because I went out first. But then I went to bed.

* Why won't someone reimburse me for my book purchases? Sigh. I suppose I have to get a degree and a job, first.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Okay, so this response is way late (still catching up on stuff... can you believe it?!), but I wanted to say thanks for the props and for reminding me about Screech, the memory of which somehow got lost between alcohol and ASL and alcohol and SEE and alcohol and salt cod and alcoh-- what? :) That was a fun, fun night.