Today in the Twelfth Century

Well, it has been a year since I blogged for UTP, but I am now back in Kalamazoo County and excited about another International Congress on Medieval Studies.

I arrived by car with the rest of the UTP crew on Tuesday afternoon, after our GPS took us on an accidental detour through the back roads of Battle Creek, Michigan. On Wednesday, we drove to the exhibit hall at Western Michigan University where we spent the day setting up our booth. Suzanne has done this set-up for fifteen years already, and Natalie has done it for at least five. This year, UTP is featuring some brand new conference materials, including a new banner and a pull-up stand, and they look fabulous. Anna set up our "swag" corner which this year features two new Viking comics, “Aud and Her Humiliating Divorce” and “Sigurd and the Sword Gram.” We're also handing out "Odin's Wisdom" magnets and some excellent Viking trading cards, which highlight the lives and legends of some of my very best Viking friends.

Anyway, today was showtime, and I started by taking my usual place in the booth behind a large pile of The Viking Age: A Reader. As soon as the exhibit hall doors opened we were greeted enthusiastically by our authors and supporters, including Steven Bednarski, Faith Wallis, Leslie Lockett, and Lisi Oliver. For the first two hours, Anna and I demoed up a storm with our new custom publishing offerings for medieval history courses. Professors raved and several took our pamphlets with intentions of creating their own customized course materials. The booth was busy all morning with scholarly monographs flying out of the booth, as well as popular readers like Medieval Medicine and Reading the Middle Ages. By mid afternoon, we only had a few copies of Sacred Violence left and this was only the first day!

At 3:30 pm, Suzanne left the booth to present her paper on the seven virtues of scholarly publishing. Her presentation was a great success and people came by the booth afterward to chat with her.

5:00 pm was the daily wine hour. Anna and Suzanne drank water—it was 30 degrees celsius in Kalamazoo today—leaving Natalie to her own devices. She took me with her and we had a glass together in the courtyard. On her way back, she took me to a booth with all sorts of Viking paraphernalia. While I was posing with the armour, Natalie embarrassed herself by confusing a  Viking Drinking Horn with a shofar (a ram’s horn usually blown during the Jewish High Holidays).

During the last ninety minutes of the day, books on both ends of the booth were purchased including the perennial favourite, Snorri Sturluson and the Edda and of course The Viking Age: A Reader. At 6:30 pm, the girls were exhausted. Suzanne went back to the hotel to relax and Natalie and Anna took series editor, Paul Edward Dutton, to the strip mall for Indian food. It is now 10:35 pm and I am getting tired. Natalie is going to read me a bedtime story of Deborah Lipstadt’s fascinating new book The Eichmann Trial while Anna watches an episode or two of Mad Men on her iPad.

And thus ends Today in the Twelfth Century.

-The Berserker