Apparently I did know the way to Kalamazoo.
And, to the joy of my spouse, who now does not have to run me over with a garden-weasel, I knew the way back as well, even with only two hours of sleep (thanks, Midnight Dance! Thanks, Loredana!!). Coming back on Mother's Day made for a lot of work, with meals needing to be cooked immediately and much dogpiling on the floor and wrestling to be done. It was great to be back to my two little monsters. And to find that Raquel hadn't been forced to duct-tape them to anything and no one had to sleep in the shed.
Kalamazoo itself was one of the better ones I've been to. Everything certainly ran smoothly, nearly effortlessly. I give credit to the two organizers I know: Paul Szarmach, who manages to run the conference, be charming, and take time to talk about scholarship even during the conference. And someone whom I was thrilled to meet because I read her blog: Elisabeth Carnell, who was one of the organizers who had organized exceptionally well. [P.S., Elisabeth, the picture on your site does not do you justice at all. You should definitely post one from the Midnight Dance].
The quality of the papers was quite high as well. As usual, the best session was the "'New Voices'" in Anglo-Saxon Studies," in which graduate students gave papers under the auspices of ISAS, the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists. Papers by Brian O'Camb, Mary-Louise Fellows, Sarah Downey, and Matthew T. Hussey were all stimulating: interesting ideas, well-presented. I was particularly thrilled when Fellows cited my "Anglo-Saxon Wills" paper, because now I know the identity of the one person who has read it.
Most of the time a paper isn't important in the sense that it gives you a powerful presentation of a major piece of scholarship: the format just doesn't allow for that kind of communicative economy. But these papers were important in the sense that they made me want to rush off and delve more deeply into what the presenters were discussing. I came up with ideas as to how Downey's paper on Guthlac can be improved, and l actually had contemporaneous suggestions for Fellows. (and, Mary-Louise, I am so happy that someone is using the corpus. You don't know how many hours I spent getting the wretched thing in order. This was before there was an electronic Sawyer at Cambridge).
So I walked out of the conference with that most precious thing one can get at Kalamazoo: new enthusiasm. New joy in the field. New connections with old friends. And also, an offer to submit a long paper for a journal and to get some other stuff into the form of a Note.
My talk itself, which I've posted here as notes and a handout in .pdf, seemed to go over well. As you read it you'll notice that I didn't bother to write down most of the important details (I just talked them), but you can probably get a look at the theory, since by Christmas, you'll be reading it!
Yes, that's right. MRTS gave me a real date: galleys in July, book to the printer in October and back to me in December. Soon you may be able to purchase How Tradition Works: A Meme-Based Poetics of the Anglo-Saxon Tenth Century for yourselves, making me, and hopefully you, immensely happy.
Well, there's lots more on Kalamzoo (my favorite quote: "there I was, sitting next to the World's Most Disgusting Couple.")
But it is late and I am tired, and I must prepare for the arrival of
[UPDATED to remove a tremendous number of typos]