An Academic Life at the International Medieval Congress

The International Medieval Congress at Leeds will be relocating next year to the city-centre, so prompting intermittent waves of nostalgia this year, apart from when we remembered the sometimes inadequate facilities at the current campus. Various people were saying how many times they’d come to Leeds and I realised that I couldn’t remember how often I had. So once I got home, I dug out the programmes lurking on my shelves and started to explore. (Most of these programmes are also on the website, for anyone else who wants to indulge in such an exercise).

1) IMC 1999 – during MPhil – not presenting

I knew almost nobody and I was still extremely lowly, so though this was a fascinating time, it was also very scary.

2) IMC 2001 – “Power Corrupts? Carolingian Moralists on Noble Power and Wealth”, in Texts and Identities session with Albrecht Diem and Christina Pössl

The only time I’ve ever presented in a T&I strand, and one where I promptly discovered what it was like giving the paper in a session that almost no-one was interested in. However, the one person who was interested was Joanna Huntington, which led to…

3) IMC 2002 – “Clerici on laici, laici on laici: are Carolingian Clerical and Lay Authors Different?” in a session with Joanna and Kirsten Fenton on churchmen and laymen

The one time at Leeds when I couldn’t drink, because I was several months pregnant. This, of course, did not stop some of the more enthusiastic of my friends encouraging me to drink.

4) IMC 2003 – not presenting

First time I’d been away from my daughter, since she’d been born in November 2002. I had a great time as a result. She had a mostly great time off with her other relatives, apart from falling off a changing table right at the end of the holiday.

5) IMC 2004 – “Manly Men, Womanly Men: Carolingian Laymen and the Gender Continuum”, presenting in one of three sessions I organised on medieval masculinity.

First time I’d tried organising sessions. I don’t think I managed the social side of this as well as I should have, but it did help develop a network of contacts among high and late medievalists that has come in handy ever since.

6) IMC 2005 – “Duritia and Sapientia: Were Carolingian Old Men Still Manly?” in a session with Nic Percival and Agnes Davies on life cycle and masculinity

I ended up as a late paper in this session and there was a certain overlap with some other sessions/papers on Carolingian old men, but fairly pleased with this.

7) IMC 2007 – “Waltharius and Carolingian Morality: Irony and Lay Values” in a session with James McCune and Michael Gelting on early medieval Latin writing

With childcare responsibilities (and not earning much money) I couldn’t really justify coming to Leeds every year. When I did, it was to find Texts and Identities still on the march (up to 10 sessions that year) and everything else rather marginalised. But still good to meet up with everybody. Apart from the person who told me that the teaching I’d been promised for September wasn’t going to happen after all.

8) IMC 2009 – “The Canon Law of Marriage: a Useful Concept for the Ninth Century?” in a session on marriage and canon law. It ended up with only one other paper in the session, by a late medievalist Frederick Pedersen, with the amazing title “Murder, Mayhem, and a Very Small Penis”

This was the IMC at which Texts and Identities reached its apogee at 13 sessions. If you weren’t in the charmed circle (and I wasn’t) it meant you were bound to be scheduled against it. But I continued my role of bringing early medieval history to those who thought nothing happened before the eleventh century and got some positive responses to my paper from proper canonists.

9) IMC 2011 – “The Emperor’s New Clothes: Moral Aspects of Carolingian Royal Costume” in a session with Christopher Braun on medieval Islamic alchemy

I had originally hoped to organise some sessions on Hincmar for this IMC, only to find out that a) Texts & Identities, under whose auspices I was hoping to place my sessions, were now cutting down considerably and b) that some of the key participants wouldn’t be able to come. So instead, I joined another major strand. Björn Weiler had been hard at work organising six comparative sessions on the material culture of Western, Byzantine and Islamic rulers (for the theme rich and poor). Unfortunately, this sterling work wasn’t, to my mind, rewarded by brilliant audiences. On the other hand, it was good being back at Leeds again and my fellow enthusiast for Hincmar, Charles West and I had plans…

10) IMC 2012 – the year of Hincmar. Charles and I organised five sessions on Hincmar, which was great fun, but meant that a lot of other sessions had to be skipped. I wandered around an eclectic mix of sessions on gender, charters and early medieval history, met old friends and new people, saw that my book was on display at the CUP stand and felt generally positive. I will, almost certainly, be back next year, probably doing something on charter databases…

Now all I have to do is write some accounts of the sessions I went to…


5 thoughts on “An Academic Life at the International Medieval Congress

  1. I have attended the IMC every year since 2005, except in 2010 when I was finishing writing up my thesis. I have presented a couple of times, chaired sessions, and organised sessions. Reading this post makes me want to see exactly what my involvement was each year. Incidentally, I gave a paper in the Texts & Identities strand last year. I didn’t go to your Hincmar sessions this year because I generally work on even earlier things and there were other sessions that conflicted with yours. However, I did crash the discussion of the second Hincmar session so that I could introduce myself in person to one of the speakers in that session, with whom I might be working on a new edition of a 9th century text, pending funding. However, many of my friends in the T&I circle, and other acquaintances of mine, attended the Hincmar sessions, and they all thought that all the Hincmar sessions were quite good.


  2. I enjoyed your paper and indeed both the Hincmar sessions I made it to, the sessions more than I’d expected to in fact. They reminded me I’m a Carolingianist! Occasionally I get confused about this. Thanks for organising it all and for sorting out the blogger meet-up timing. Roll on next year!


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