I just finished attending (and presenting at) my first-ever academic conference: the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies, aka #Kzoo2015. Here’s a recap:
1. My presentation, on representations of mental difference and the rhetoric of disability in Gregory of Tours and the “Green Children of Woolpit” tales, went better than I expected – especially since the room had about ten times the number of attendees I expected. Big thank-yous to MEARCSTAPA for sponsoring and to Tory Pearman for a fantastic response.
2. Several people contributed to livetweeting the panel and my part in it. I’ve Storified the tweets here.
3. I collected not one but TWO shout-outs in the medievalists.net recap of Day 1 of the Congress. (This is probably a better measure of how few medievalists were tweeting that day than it is of my (non)influence in the field.)
4. Over dinner on Thursday (medieval cafeteria salmon), Rebecca Straple clarified for me why it is I keep getting dragged back into the Middle Ages, despite my primary interest in rhetoric and disability studies: We “other” the medieval in many of the same ways we “other” disability, from the point of view of modernism and its anxiety about the production of the self. As a result, though I was expecting this Congress to be my only Congress, I now know I’ll be back.
5. RESOLVED: I must write that “autism and changeling narratives” paper. I’ve gotten unabashed enthusiasm for the idea from both the autism side and the medieval side, so. Luckily, Congress really helped me focus my thoughts in this arena – I even worked up an outline while standing in the interminable Fetzer coffee line yesterday – and a colleague in neuroqueerdom recommended I pitch it to Autonomous Press as a book chapter.
6. RESOLVED II: Leaving the practice of law for an academic disability studies career: A+ life choice. While the sessions on legal history I attended yesterday were fantastic scholarship and very informative, I couldn’t shake that nagging personal sense that these were not “my people” in the way the monsters/disability people are “my people.”
7. Not my work but worth mentioning: Natalie Grinnell’s “A Song for the Hills of Kalamazoo,” inspired by all the walking Congress demands. Since I live on the city’s most famous hill (not on campus, alas), I relate extra-hard.
8. Unrelated to Congress but still pretty cool: I found myself linked in an online article in Good Housekeeping of all things.