Monday, 11 May 2009

Kalamazoo Days Three and Four

Though I attended some wonderful sessions, the highlight of the day had to be the second paper delivered by the Societas Fontibus Historiae Medii Aevi Inveniendis, vulgo dicta, “The Pseudo Society.”

In a paper entitled "Medieval Mortality: A Radical Reconsideration," Prof. A. Mark Smith of the University of Missouri-Columbia, argued against the obviously fallacious statement that "death, in the middle ages, took a heavy toll." Making use of only the finest of statistical analyses, Smith displayed an incredibly logical and articulate argument, such that by the end of the paper there was not a person in attendance who was unaware of the undeniable fact that death did not, in fact, take a heavy toll in the middle ages. Then he surprised us all and linked higher modern death rates to wage-earning potential, summing up with the well-known phrase: "stipendia enim ... mors".

The dance, on the other hand, was a little weak. The drinks were too pricey ($6 for a bottle of anything better than a Michelob?) and the best song to dance to was either Time Warp or Love Shack, which I think is pretty telling. Where were the academics behaving badly? Where were the tenured professors getting on down with their bad selves? I had heard rumours, but I saw nothing more than mediocre dancing to mediocre songs, and I was gravely disappointed.

Next year I'm bringing a flask of absinthe and hijacking the DJ's playlist.

I'm also thinking of volunteering a paper for the Pseudo Society. I'll let you know if that goes anywhere.

Day four was filled with buying books for wonderfully low prices. I got a set of OUP Anglo-Saxon Lit. books that normally retail for over $50 for $12, and Vaulting spent just over $50 on over $150 worth of beautiful books on gothic and romanesque art. Thank you Powell Bookstores!

I've also ordered some books online, so by the time I finally arrive home, there should be a nice Vulgate Bible waiting for me, along with a good condition ASPR Junius 11 and a philosophical treatise titled F*ck It. ^___^

Only 14 hours of driving left until we get home.

All in all, K'zoo was a wonderful experience. I hope to do it again next year. And the next. And probably after that too. I made new friends, saw old ones, and learned a great deal along the way. First Kalamazoo for the win.




Dame Eleanor Hull said...

Once they instituted security and charged for drinks, the dance went downhill fast. I mean, the music always was oldies, which was part of the quirky charm, but many of us who remember the good old days have simply given up, which is why you don't see so many tenured professors getting down in embarrassing ways.

But a decade or two ago, senior faculty got drunk as skunks, and I wore exceedingly skimpy Lycra garments, and once was nearly kidnapped from the dance floor, except that some very large young men from Loyola intervened, and took my grabber outside . . . not sure what happened to him; chivalry does not boast.

Vellum said...

I think the organizers would do well to subsidize the drinking (maybe get a local brewery to sponsor, or work out a donation-to-charity, tax-break thing with an academic sponsor) and either get a live swing band or else get a DJ who has something like a "week-in-advance, no guarantees" song request form, just so s/he can get an idea of what people might like to hear. I mean, I don't really know about everyone else, but I haven't a clue how to dance to Bon Jovi... *shrug*

Vaulting said...

"I mean, I don't really know about everyone else, but I haven't a clue how to dance to Bon Jovi... *shrug*"Jump around a lot, perhaps? With your fist in the air?

Vellum said...

Maybe a little air guitar? ;)

Meggie said...

Sounds like Kalamazoo was full of the usual academic ridiculousness. I think that's the equivalent of them getting down with their bad selves. Why not prance out a paper that is a)completely ridiculous, b)either unprove-able or entirely unwarranted, or c)just random when everyone will clap politely and then go away and get hammed? I love it!