Monday, May 12, 2008

I am not a dancer

Just got back from the big medieval congress in Kalamazoo (if you've been there, you know all about it; if you haven't, it's a kind of academic free-for-all on virtually all things medieval, complete with full professors sleeping in cinder-block dorm rooms, as if revisiting a vanished past of their very own). Although there are more monks and nuns at the Kalamazoo congress than at most academic conferences, it is otherwise pretty unremarkable in most ways. Unlike most academic conferences, however, the Kalamazoo conference is notorious for its dance.

I went to the dance this year, and over the years, it's become clear (to me and to others, I am sure), that there are three basic kinds of medievalists: those who don't go to the dance; those who go to the dance and do not dance; and those who both go and dance (any medievalists who do not go to Kalamazoo at all, I guess, simply don't count). Middle child to the core, I belong in the middle category, I guess: I go, but I do not dance.

In my own defense, I'll just say the dance is a good chance to have a beer or two and chat with old friends (because, of course, there's nowhere else in Kalamazoo to do those things!). And while I won't name any names, the other basic reason to go to the dance at Kalamazoo is also a draw: to see which of the three categories everyone else fits into.

To see famous medievalist X, for example, shaking his or her booty (or whatever else might be shaking) to "It's Raining Men" or (even more strangely) "Bohemian Rhapsody" is, in the end, really not to be missed. But then again, it can be just as revealing to see who is willing to drink the 50-cent keg beers from the traditional plastic cups--though maybe if you're sleeping in a cinder-block dorm room, that's what you really should be drinking, after all.

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