July is nearly here, which means the annual International Medieval Congress at Leeds is just around the corner with all its madness. I tried explaining this conference to a modern historian friend who looked frankly terrified by the prospect, both in terms of size and duration, but for those of us made of sterner stuff what can we expect from the programme this year (with its rather episcopally-coloured cover)?
911 to someone who works on the central middle ages means something entirely different from the vast majority of the population: it is, of course, the traditional date of the foundation of Normandy and this year is the eleven-hundredth anniversary of that event. To mark the occasion the Battle Conference, Haskins Society and Centre Michel de Bouard are sponsoring a strand on ‘Normans, Normandy and the Wider Norman World: 911 from a 2011 Perspective’, comprising four sessions on the Tuesday. Having sworn blind I was not going to do anything at this year’s Leeds, naturally I find myself speaking in one of these sessions on a surprising topic that has been a great deal of fun to research, though the actual writing is proving tricky.
Normans are a bigger theme, with three sessions on the Monday organised by Alex Metcalfe and others on southern Italian material, which will hopefully give me pause for thought regarding my teaching and also a new book project (more later on that). More royal than Norman, but still of interest, is the Thursday morning session on ‘Royal Authority I: Kings and Restraint in Anglo-Norman Historiography’. I should also mention Wednesday’s sessions on ‘New Directions in Charter Studies’. Like the Norman sessions, these are sponsored by the same three institutions and organised my much the same people. I shall drop in and out on my quest to know more about charters.
Clashes with other good stuff abound, the most irritating being the third Norman session and ‘Wanting More and Wanting it Fast: Rebels and Rebellion in England and Normandy, From the 10th to the 12th Centuries’. This panel has a strong line-up, is organised by a friend and just looks so good. I shall just have to beg indulgence from my co-speakers in the strand and hope they forgive me.
The round tables are the usual eclectic mix. Recent years have seen a move to more professional development-type sessions on publishing and this year, there are panels on ‘Surviving the Academic Interview‘ and teaching. The most intriguing one has to be ‘Monkeys: Attractive and Repelling‘. I may well go to ‘The Making of Medieval History‘, though why are all the listed participants male?
It goes without saying that I am looking forward to catching up with numerous people, some of whom I haven’t seen in a while, and that there will be a good blog presence also. My sympathies to Jon Jarrett who has the unenviable task of chairing and speaking on the Thursday morning: I’m sure he will cope admirably. All we have to do now is write those damn papers…