arma virumque cano

Apologies for service interruption: exam-marking followed by some writing, followed by this week’s excuse, Kalamazoo a.k.a. the 45th International Congress on Medieval Studies. It is a hectic whirlwind of medieval/~ist immersion: imagine the monstrous and/or marvellous offspring of a giant patchwork quilt and a Gaudiesque crazy-paved cathedral, and then imagine being inside it. Such is the degree and extent of all-encompassing variety, combined with a concentration of back-to-back talks, that the mind spins in similar style.

From which I am currently taking a much-needed short break to write this.

Expect more of the analogical and a greater propensity to mixed metaphors than usual for the next while.

Image above: “Movable Books and the Private Library (I)“, from The Private Library. The Medieval Marvel that is the ICMS aside, Kalamazoo is of historical import: the good Dr Kellogg; 19th c. philanthropism with long-term social, educational, political, and indeed ethical side-effects; and colonic irrigation.

On topics colonic: note the crucial importance of the semi-colon, where a comma would have had a rather different effect. Though one should of course exercise mesura and be wary of the overuse of such nested lists, as they can encourage excessively free flow and lead to Rabelaisian verbal diarrohea.

It’s well outside my own field, but I sense that more, much more, might be said about colonic irrigation as a point of conjunction (or confluence?) with agricultural history, with parallels to be drawn between the local (19th-21st c. Kalamazoo) and the medieval European. Roughage bringing one into more intimate contact with one’s rougher side, through sensory animality and animated grunting; bringing one physically closer to the earth, from which one has come and to which one will return; a social levelling reminding one of one’s common humanity and of participation in a worldwide simultaneous human community. In trendier terms, a key point in a virtuous cycle integrating humans and their environment. Now, it should be said that I might have too much Rabelais on the mind, as well as the SSHRC and Canadian national research priorities (that’s the environment, by the way, before you start thinking ill of my new homeland, gentle reader). But a sound and serious project on bottom-jokes? Hmmm … food for thought … and “Food for Thought” would make an excellent title for such a thing. [Note to self to start blog-section on hypothetical and/or fictitious projects, along Borgés/Ballard lines.]

Asides aside, the Congress highlight must surely be later this evening. Not the notorious dance, over which a veil should discreetly be drawn. Maybe best described as the exact opposite of a dance of the seven veils, what between the baring/bearing of flesh and the hairiness, and that’s just the tweedy jackets and ties. Come to think of it, though, a piece on The Dance might not be out of place at that most august and brilliant event that eclipses it, casting such shadiness firmly and fittingly into the shade by right royally mooning it. Probably whilst playing a sweet serenade on the kazoo.

I speak of the Pseudo Society session:

Proceedings are available that cover sessions up to 1993; for information on sessions and papers between then and now, the Congress archives should be consulted and individual panelists might eventually be contacted. It’s surely time for another volume. Hint hint.

Proceedings of the Pseudo Society: First Series, 1986-93

Edited by Richard R. Ring and Richard Kay

Of all the learned societies in North America, the Pseudo Society is probably the most disreputable and beloved. Every year at Kalamazoo its members forge and restore the missing links in medieval studies. Long overdue, the present volume collects 23 astonishing break-throughs from the society’s early years (1986-1993), plus four more from its predecessor, the American Committee for Jutish Studies (1976) and an appendix listing all the papers presented to date.

“…inspired scholarshit…” The SCA Broadside
“…the New Historicism gone berserk…” Postmodern Fashions Newsletter
“No comment…” Speculum


Introduction by Richard Kay
De Majoribus Nostris Juti (May 1976)
“Jutish Studies: Introductory Remarks” by Dennis W. Cashman
“Saint Wythelas, Mother of the Jutes” by Jo Ann McNamara
“The Jutes and the Bayeux Tapestry” by R. Dean Ware
“What Happened to the Jutes: A Possible Sexual Explanation” by Vern L. Bullough
Primae Noctis Inventiones (May 1986)
“Inventing the Past: The Methodology of Pseudo History” by James A. Brundage
“The Account Books of Saint Francis of Assisi” by John F. McGovern
“A Newly Discovered Medieval Redaction of a Previously Lost Manuscript of Soranus Which Amplifies the Abbreviated Translation of Caelius Aurelianus” by Vern L. Bullough
“Medieval Technology and the Chastity Belt” by James D. Ryan
“The End of the Bayeux Tapestry” by R. Dean Ware
“Leonardo’s Latest Invention” by Richard Kay
Inventiones Apud AHA (December 1989)
“Inventing Our Motto: Introductory Remarks at the AHA” by R. Dean Ware
“The Engendering of the Franks: The Methodology of Urkonstruktionismus” by Jo Ann McNamara
“The Name Game” by Thomas F. X. Noble
“The Badman of Bossy-sur-Inept: Memoirs of a Medieval Peasant” by Richard Kay
“The Pseudo Society at the AHA: Comments” by James A. Brundage
Aliae Inventiones Praeclariores (1987-93)
“Peccata Papae: The Secret Diaries of Pope Innocent III (1987)” by James A. Brundage
“‘Or/ordure’: From Gold to Garbage, or Deconstructing the Anglo-Norman RomanceTopas et Pleindamour (1987)” by William Calin
“Isidore of Seville’s Saintly Interventions in Medieval Combat: The De interventibus bellicis calamitosis (1987)” by James F. Powers
“Joinville’s Secret History (1988)” by Charles T. Wood
“Boethius on King Arthur: A Newly Discovered Text (1988)” by Maureen Fries
Libri pontificales extravagantes (1989)” by Thomas F. X. Noble
“The San Gimignano Dossal and a Note on a New Discovery about the Pescia Dossal (1989)” by William Cook
“Newly Discovered Danteana from the Biblioteca Bengodiana (1989)” by Christopher Kleinhenz
Artorius Rex Britanniae from a Contemporary Witness (1991)” by Richard C. Hoffmann
“The Lost Letters of Charlemagne’s First Wife, Autostrada, Also Called Desiderata or Desideria (1991)” by Richard C. Ring
“On the Discovery of a Lost Manuscript of Chrétien de Troyes: Toward an Appreciation of Its Vast Importance for the Study of Medieval Literature and Culture (1992)” by Evelyn Birge Vitz
“Sue Doe’s Society: A Recent Archival Discovery (1993)” by Janetta Rebold Benton

Western Michigan University Medieval Institute Publications
pp. xii + 211 + 19 illustrations
ISBN-10: 1-58044-048-7
ISBN-13: 978-1580440486

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