(I’ve Got Medieval In) Kalamazoo

Each year I go on a pilgrimage of sorts - to Kalamazoo. To be precise, today I am at Western Michigan University where I am taking part in the International Congress on Medieval Studies.

If you do research in medieval studies, the name Kalamazoo will be well known to you. Each year during the second week of May the city welcomes about three thousand medievalists for the largest conference in the world about the Middle Ages. For four days, scholars, students, writers and those with a keen interest in all things medieval come to this university campus to give papers, take part in roundtable discussions, and business meetings. It is also a chance for old friends to get together, and young scholars to learn about opportunities for study or work.

I have been attending the International Congress on Medieval Studies for about twenty years, and it was this conference that solidified my love with the Middle Ages. Nearly every conceivable topic related to the medieval world is talked about here, and I’ve heard countless fascinating papers. Over the years given several myself, including papers on prisoners of war, battles in Iceland, and crime in London.

This year I’ll be giving a workshop on how to write for a wider audience. Most scholars are very good at writing academic articles and books, but it is much different when you want to write for online media or magazines like Medieval Warfare. You need to engage them more directly, and make use of search engines and social media to lead people to your work.

There are quite a lot of papers being given this year that will appeal to those interested in medieval military history. Here are five that I am looking forward to:

  • “The Woman Warrior Revisited: A Bechdel Test for Medieval Military History” - by Valerie Eads
  • “War Rides a Red Horse: Changes in the Scale of Western European Warfare in the
    Late Medieval Period” - by John Lovett
  • “The Representation of the Knights Templars and Knights Hospitallers as Seen through the Lens of Eastern Chroniclers” - by Rodrigue Buffet
  • “Tactics and Topography at the Battle of Poitiers, 1356” - by Clifford J. Rogers
  • “Full Iron Horses: The First Fifteenth-Century Metal Bards” - by Marina Viallon

I would also very much like to hear Helen Nicholson’s paper on “Holy Warriors, Worldly War: Military Religious Orders and Secular Conflict”, however her session and my own are at the same time. Alas, there is so much going on at Kalamazoo that one cannot be at everything.

If you want to learn more about the International Congress on Medieval Studies, please visit https://wmich.edu/medievalcongress

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