31 July, 2008

I really am lucky

You know how people are always telling you to make sure you get a job you love? "Find something you love and then find someone to pay you to do it" is the best elucidation of the concept I've ever heard.

Well you know what? I do. I am head-over-heels in love with what I do. I can barely think of anything that excites me more. Here I am, making discoveries, thinking things no one ever has before, seeing texts history has just passed over... By pure chance (or perhaps divine providence, I am in the incredible position of being on the front edge of a whole new field of medieval studies. It's wide open spaces, baby.

On the professional activities front, I am in-process for actually publishing some stuff. Nothing is certain yet (except for the book review which I really ought to get my rear in gear about), but it's a good feeling. The pressure to publish, even when you're still a student, is intense. One item is a revision of the Margery Kempe paper I gave at the York-Norwich conference, and the other is shaping up to be a killer article for the Journal of Fifteenth Century Studies. I can't say more about it right now, so you will just have to take my word for it. But really, it's awesome. Greg and I have been geeking out about it for the past couple days, which is what spurred this post initially.

And while we're at it, I've gotten my first submission for my k'zoo 2009 session, which is cool. I should write something brief up as well, for form's sake. And also so that I know what I plan to do.

And that's about the state of the nation at the moment.

21 July, 2008


Today: good supervision! Very good!

I made good points, I had LOTS of material. More than they expected, it seems (thank you!).

Also, I had a brainwave regarding the records, hospitals, care, and silence. I'm going to London today for a couple days, so remind me to share when I get back, Greg. Also, I was informed that there's an MA student here doing a thesis on idiots in the Patent Rolls. It's like pulling teeth, sometimes.

Have a good couple days!

18 July, 2008

It's Occurs to Me...

... that it's been a while since I did a "crazy britons" post.

Dill pickles, aka "gherkins."

Under no circumstances should there be sugar added to them. Ever. It is an offence against picklekind.

Ahem. These Britons are crazy.

K'zoo 2009

It seems that I'll be going, since I'm co-organising a session. It's titled "God's Cripples, Crazies, and Imbeciles: New Dimensions of Religious Disability." Tell your friends.

Actually, if your friends study medieval disability and religion comes into it somewhere at all, please DO tell them. I'm still a-lookin' for abstracts.

What's Been Happening

In short form, "artistic differences" with my advisors. A large part of this is due to my own stubbornness, I admit. I have such a disinterest in the literary facet of things that is York's speciality (if you like Chaucer, this is a good place for you) that the dual-discipline gig here is rough on me. And yet, I don't really have the training for archaeology or art history, either. And I'm not "trained as a historian," so single-discipline is out.

However, it does appear that we have reached a compromise. I have been digging through a mountain of legal records for the past while (a workload drastically reduced by the kindness of my Colleague). I've also been doing a bit of reading into jurisdiction disputes - the Church and the State were constantly squabbling over who had jurisdiction.* The question of wills and testamentaries is an odd one - they appear in both sets of records. But I digress.

My attendance at the Leeds IMC was not unprofitable, as I scored a copy of The Sign Languages of Poverty and a CD-ROM version of The Parliament Rolls of England (fully searchable in BOTH official languages**), as well as attending a certain reception, wherein I found a reference to senile priests in a display volume and got to chat with a some very nice and informative people. Also, the coffee service is better at Leeds than Kalamazoo.

My digital camera has become my new research tool in the world of non-lending libraries. Naturally, I do not subject rare and delicate books to the camera, but for hardy year-2000 hardcovers? No guilt. It's cheaper than photocopying, if you have a decent hand.

I look up at my bookshelf, and I begin to understand where the professors get the huge shelves and shelves of books that fill their offices. Slow, gradual accumulation. It's neat, too. I am developing a rather good library of the history of foolishness and insanity.*** It's neat. I'm becoming my own library.

Oh, other good news! The Disease, Disability, and Medicine in the Middle Ages conference was a winner! It was simply fantastic. There were so many perspectives and subjects! I can't believe that anyone could ever say "Oh, there's nothing to say there." There is SUCH a glut of things to talk about in the field. The paper that was the most valuable in terms of my own research was "Bones of Contention: Some issues surrounding the use of human remains in the study of disease and disability," presented by postgrads L. Craig and K. Hemer. It reminded me (Oh how did I manage to forget??) that burial is a religious practice. Also, it was an excellent example of palaeopathology put to good use. P. Mitchell's paper, "Gastrointestinal Disease in the Crusades," made me glad all over again that I've gone vegetarian. Nothing spoils my appetite for meat like the thought of intestinal parasites. T. Jones' paper on distant-travel warefare and the limitations unfamiliar water and climate would have imposed on armies was extremely interesting. Really, all the papers that were presented were great.

I also connected with some great people. I got to meet Irina Metzler, who is GREAT conversation, and fun as well as brilliant. The grad student population was well represented, and it seems there may be another medieval disability PhD at York in the relatively near future (WOOT). I had coffee with a fascinating scholar from Oxford (he also taught in Canada!) after the conference officially ended. All in all, it could scarcely have been a cooler conference.

Plus, I had Turkish Delight ice cream. It's exactly as awesome as it sounds. (I had lavendar ice cream yesterday, and it was equally divine.)

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a date with the Parliament Rolls of Medieval England and a glass of sloe gin and tonic.

* CSI: Canterbury, anyone?
** You know you're Canadian when...
*** Except I don't have a copy of Foucault. So sue me.

10 July, 2008



The past little while has been extremely busy and extremely confusing and worrisome, and I haven't felt like posting. Limbo-posting always feels like a bad idea.

Fortunately, I think I've got things sorted out. Good things are happening, good books are being read, good people are being met, and good conferences are being attended.

I promise I will update soon.