Where to get some Got Medievalist in 2009

Since I am now professionally embracing this weird thing I do on the internet, I thought I’d let my readers know where they can find me, professionally speaking, in 2009. 

I’ve got two conference papers on my plate already. To no one’s surprise, I will be giving a paper at Kalamazoo on marginalia titled something like ” ‘Are you lookin’ at me?’: Voyeurism, Paranoia, and Self-Awareness on the Margins of Medieval Manuscripts.” This title violates both of my recently developed rules for conference papers–no colons, no intro quotes–proving that I really will abandon all my principles for the slightest hint of public attention.

I will also be attending the PCA/ACA’s (Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association’s) conference in New Orleans over Easter weekend. (Pop culturalists are an ungodly sort.) There, my topic will be “The Sword in the Stone in Outsider Arthuriana”. The original title used the vulgar word for “psychoceramics” for the Arthuriana I mean–things like Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and the Alano-Sarmatian hypothesis–but the session organizers rightly suggested I try not to piss off famous people who do actually come to the PCA/ACA conference from time to time.

I’m also working on a paper on the Middle Ages in Sid Meier’s Civilization games that would have been better suited for the Pop Culture conference, if I weren’t already doing the Sword in the Stone thing there.  Recently, while leading Charlemagne to an embarassing defeat at the hands of the Incans and their pesky airships, it struck me how fundamentally weird it is to think of a “Middle Ages” in a game that by design will lack all of the usual events that we use for our periodization.  If the Middle Ages isn’t, in Sid Meier’s creation, defined with reference to the fall of Rome or the Protestant Reformation, how is it defined?  Does Sid (or his minions to whom he handed off the game) have anything deeper in mind than “In the Middle Ages, your attack units are knights with an attack strength of 4 and a defense of 2, while in the Modern Era, your attack units are tanks with attack of 10 and defense of 5”?

I may submit that one for Plymouth State’s Medieval Forum, a conference everyone in the Northeast should make room for because of the amazing multi-course medieval feast they put on at the end of it. Yes, you do have to deal with some undergrads running around in period garb, which I usually am quite opposed to, but I will also abandon my principles for soup served in a fancy bread bowl and castles made out of butter.

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  • anthromama

    Civilization is weird that way, using cultural advances — bronze working, map making, etc. — to define periods. I’ve been gorging myself on CivIII lately.

  • Christine Taylor

    I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog. I am the rankest of rank amateurs when it comes to medieval studies — the little I know is strictly 11th and 12th century Northumbria. But I love reading your stuff.

    And I hear you on the Civ games. My 12-year-old really loves them, but I was awfully confused when he asked me about Charlemagne attacking the Aztec empire, or something along those lines.

  • Anthony

    I will also be at the PCA/AA conference, and you have no idea who the fuck I am, but could I buy you a drink as a thank you for the blog?

  • Got Medieval

    Of course, Anthony–though Scott Noakes from Unlocked Wordhoard has issued a standing threat of finding me in a bar at a conference and getting all codicological on me. So if you overlap, it might be awkward.

  • beatrixherald

    Yes, As a historian and fan of playing Civilizaion III I agree that the creators of the game have NEVER studied history, or technology, and CERTAINLY not the history of technology. In that world technology is the ONLY thing that defines the culture. Infact, cultural advancements are treated exactly like technologies.

    This doesnt make the game any less fun (infact it may make it more fun to talk about how it is NOT like reality)

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