The Year of the Viking in Kalamazoo, Michigan

We came. We saw. We conquered Kzoo.

This year’s International Congress on Medieval Studies began with boxes and boxes full of The Vikings and Their Age (the first book in our new Companions to Medieval Studies series), and we are now safely on the Ontario side of the border without a single copy left.

Additionally, in the first 24 hours of the conference, all copies of Medieval Medicine: A Reader were in the hands of professors eager to create new courses around it. Thomas F. Mayer’s new primary source reader, The Trial of Galileo, followed suit. (Kelly DeVries, author of our Medieval Military Technology overview, came by to rave about how well Mayer’s reader worked in his recent first-year course.)

Despite being slightly out-of-place at a Medieval Studies conference, Kenneth R. Bartlett’s reader and overview for courses on the Italian Renaissance were greeted with shouts of: “These are the perfect books for my fall course on the Renaissance!”

Also at the UTP booth, Suzanne Rancourt’s books leapt into the hands of medievalists eager to read them—especially Traditional Subjectivities by Britt Mize and The Ends of the Body and Seeing Through the Veil by Suzanne Conklin Akbari.

But the big hit—the topic of conversation that permeated the congested aisles of the Book Exhibit Hall—was not a book but a bag. Our UTP Viking bag was on everyone’s must-have list and we promptly sold our entire inventory. There was an outpouring of admiration for the artwork on the bag (created by brilliant illustrator Britt Wilson), and in this, the Year of the Viking, we were pleased to see our bags marching across the Western Michigan campus all weekend, stuffed with books.

Celebrating 19 years of attendance at Kalamazoo, Suzanne once again was the centre of attention as her authors paraded into the booth to chat. Leslie Lockett, Britt Mize, Lisi Oliver, and Nicole Marafioti all came by to thank Suzanne for her hard work on their projects.

The Higher Ed group was busy with its own fan club. Paul Dutton, our series editor and one of the pillars of our medieval list, stopped by to meet with Natalie Fingerhut about future projects (hint: medieval warfare) as did Michael Burger, whose Shaping of Western Civilization is set to make its Kzoo debut next year (along with new editions of our market-leading A Short History of Middle Ages and Reading the Middle Ages).

On the last morning, the line outside the booth grew quickly with medievalists buying up the last of our books, and we witnessed a friendly battle between two Viking specialists, each claiming ownership of the very last copy of The Viking Age: A Reader.

Other notable highlights of the weekend included a medieval smelting demo near the pond outside the Exhibit Hall where the Canadian Geese watched in horror, as well as a new joke:

How do scholars know that Beowulf was never married?
Because everyone knows that Beowulf's impossible to date.

And so, from our offices in Toronto and Guelph, we can safely say that UTP rocked the Zoo. We can’t wait until next year’s conference, when we will have many new books and accomplishments and anniversaries to celebrate, Kalamazoo-style!

-Team Zoo, University of Toronto Press

Leave a Reply