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.
Slow Thinking and Swift Action
3 days ago