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I’m something of a sucker for food-related sessions, though I’m sometimes disappointed because I’m used to hanging out with folks who work at a pretty in-depth level (as well as many of them being excellent cooks). Food is a major thread running through my historical fiction, which provides another reason for packing away layers of knowledge in the compost-heap memory. With five papers in this session (rather than the default three), they will presumably be a bit on the shorter side.

There is usually a “Can these bones come to life” panel with papers on hands-on or experimental historical culture. While the participants are often drawn from an SCA-adjacent population, the topic is not usually SCA-specific. I come to this session having no idea what the general topic or take is going to be. But as someone who has spent a lot of my life in the SCA, it’s hard to look away. (I’m also being distracted by participating in a parallel chat about the panel in an entirely different channel.)

This session on medieval magic is sponsored by the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence, adding another group to the general interest in the history of magic. I was dithering between this and the first DISTAFF (textiles) session, since both are being recorded for later viewing. In both sessions, only one paper has permission for social media sharing—which originally was going to be how I chose which to view in real time. So…a toss-up.

I really love the ongoing interest in magic-related topics in historic research. (The existence of the Societas Magica helps support that, although they aren’t the sponsor for this particular session.) Although I haven’t necessarily used any of the specifics of the magic papers I listen to in my fiction, they go into that “compost-heap memory” such that when I do want to include magical practices in my worldbuilding, I have a varied range of possibilities to be inspired by.

Although it isn’t entirely clear from the session title, the common theme here is thinking in the context of transgender and gender fluidity.

Butler and þæt Bodiġ: Constructing, Performing, and (Mis)Reading the Female Body in Ælfric's Life of Saint Agnes - Thelma Trujillo, University of Iowa

This is the first of my “to watch” sessions that was recorded, so I took the opportunity to run out and do some errands, then got back just 20 minutes into the session and decided to check it out live.

A Kingdom For a Horse: Horses, Humans, and Emotional Attachment in Early Indo-European Sources - Stéfan J. Koekemoer, University of New Mexico

(I came in just at the end of this. The session was recorded, so I may go back later, especially since the Q&A indicates there was discussion of magical healing of horses.)

I picked this session for the “transvestite saint” paper, given my own interests in the how that topic intersects my interests. (Also, given the intersection with my own ‘zoo paper a couple years ago on gender-disguise narratives.) The other papers are less directly interesting to me, so I’ll probably be multi-tasking during them.

Revisiting the "Transvestite" Saint - C. Libby, Pennsylvania State University

I dithered between two sessions—neither being recorded—in this time-slot. The one I didn’t choose was #28 Homosocial Communities and Seclusion, because there was only one paper that looked like it might possibly be related to relationship potential in homosocial environments. (What can I say, I have highly specific interests.) Instead I chose this session, which looks at several topics relating to cross-cultural interactions during travel.

(Chosen because of the paper on Amazons.)

The organizing theme of the session is to examine topics that occur across cultures, or where different cultural perspectives may provide insight.

The Amazons in Medieval Arab and Western Travel Accounts - Sally Abed, Alexandria University

Yes, it's that time again! Time to blog the papers presented at the annual International Medieval Congress (at least, the ones in the session I attend). Normally, I'd be in Kalamazoo for this, enjoying the company of my fellow medieval history geeks, pretending the entire thing is intended as my birthday party, and limited to attending one session of papers at a time. This year, of course, I'm attending from my home office, zooming with my fellow medieval history geeks, and not quite as limited because some of the sesions will be recorded for later viewing.


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