So last week was the 56th Annual International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI, except it wasn't really. It wasn't actually held in Kalamazoo because the entire 7 day conference was for the first time held on-line via Zoom (pretty cool). And because of that. I, for the first time, was able to attend the conference (way cool), and I loved it!

There were just over 450 sessions spread out over 6 days, along with meetings and gatherings spread out over 7 days which taken together added up to almost non-stop medievally happenings. Presentation topics ran the gamut of things medieval, some of which were completely beyond my range of experience or knowledge, but there were plenty of presentations dealing with King Arthur, Gawain & the Green Knight, Beowulf, Ireland & Scotland, feasting customs, and medieval saints & animals, not to mention Tolkien studies, and panel discussions on various topics such as representations of the medieval in modern literature and film, including an in depth review of The 13th Warrior. Fun!

So I had plenty to keep me busy last week, and luckily many of the sessions were recorded so participants could go back and review sessions they weren't able to attend due to scheduling conflicts. I know I had at least 6 sessions that I missed because they were at the same time as something else really interesting!

For me a new discovery was Robin Hood Studies. There were two sessions dedicated to Robin Hood and several presentations in other sessions that covered cross-over Robin Hood topics such as the Greenwood and general outlaw traditions of different cultures. One presentation I especially enjoyed was Robin Hood as a Christmas tradition which I never even knew was a thing, but it was! And the seasonal tradition has carried over in 19th century sales of Robin Hood adventure books as special Christmas gifts and Robin Hood themed Christmas pantomime productions still being presented in various locales in the U.K. as part of their Boxing Day festivities. As a Christmas buff myself, I found this really interesting, and I enjoyed the camaraderie of the "hoodies" so much that I even joined their research group, the
International Association for Robin Hood Studies. More fun!

It was a fun week spent reawakening and reconnecting with my interests in things medieval, and just to share some of the fun, here are four presentations I particularly enjoyed, three on medieval animals, and the fourth by my friend Maga on medieval Castilian proverbs. Just click on each image to bring up the video clip.





I hope you enjoy these talks as much as I did. As I get closer to retiring for real, I'm already thinking about transitioning from teaching to full-time writing, and whether that takes the form of creative writing projects, or scholarly writing projects, it will almost certainly be medievally writing projects! Last week's conference was a welcomed return to things medieval, and since next year's conference will be via zoom again, I know I will be there for sure. I'm already looking forward to it. Huzzah!

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