Fifty Shades of Medieval History

Well, we made it. For the first time in 5 years, Anna, Natalie, and Suzanne found Kalamazoo without getting lost. There was a brief “discussion” at the border about the contents of our trunk which contained a box of Suzanne’s exciting new book, The Christ Child in Medieval Culture. But once through, we cruised into the Zoo where Suzanne was greeted with hugs by her many admirers including Mary Dzon and Theresa Kenney (editors of The Christ Child in Medieval Culture), Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe (author of Stealing Obedience), Samantha Zacher (author of Preaching the Converted), and Lisi Oliver (author of The Body Legal in Barbarian Law).

The booth looked spectacular and when the doors opened yesterday at 8:00 am, the room filled up quickly with medievalists looking for books. The new book that instantly made its way into shopping bags was the much anticipated second edition of Medieval Military Technology by Kelly DeVries and Robert Douglas Smith. As people lined up to buy it, there was much praise for Natalie and Anna’s t-shirts that sported the book’s cover. Kelly came by in the late morning and was very pleased with our display of his book which included the very popular Medieval Military Technology game sheets that are making their way around the conference.

Another book that people are buzzing about is Pilgrimage in the Middle Ages: A Reader by Brett Edward Whalen. This latest reader in the Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures Series (edited by Paul Edward Dutton) is the subject of our daily trivia contest where winners receive a free copy of the book. Yesterday’s winner was L. Evans, DISTAFF.

Nicholas Everett’s The Alphabet of Galen was fawned over by a group of admiring U of T students who happily purchased several copies. O’Brien O’Keeffe’s Stealing Obedience also received lots of attention.

Natalie met with Paul Dutton and Vikings guy, Andrew MacDonald, to sort out the timetable for next year’s eagerly awaited companion volume to The Viking Age: A Reader.

Suzanne had a productive chat with Rebecca Stephenson whose book about Latinity and identity is currently under review; she also chatted with Paul Szarmach about his book on holy women.

After a long day with the medievalists, Natalie and Anna prepared for their annual dinner with Paul Dutton at Kalamazoo’s Indian hotspot, Saffron Rose, where much of the discussion focused on plans for a new UTP website that will house some new medieval content. When we arrived back at the hotel, we met up with Paul Szarmach who regaled us with tales of coordinating the conference in the late 90s. (Our favourite was the story of the nun who called him at 2:00 am because she was lost on the freeways of Michigan.) We also learned that back in the day, the medieval military technology coterie would assemble a trebuchet in the athletic field and launch whatever they could find. This practice was cancelled when they launched a heavy sack and almost took out a wandering student.

I must go now and help the girls at the booth. It’s getting busy again.

I remain,

The Berserker.

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