When I was a kid, I used to get excited by things like birthday parties, having my friends over to play, and getting to do or see some really creative stuff. Now that I’m a working adult, the same kinds of things excite me, but they come in different formats.
So tomorrow I’m leaving on a road trip to one of my favorite weekends of the year. Is it glamorous? Nope. Is it a big fashion city? Nope. Will there be birthday cake? I doubt it. What there will be is bad cafeteria food and worse dorm beds, good local beer (Bell’s brewery is in this hometown), some of my favorite creative people, good middle-eastern food, my Dad, and 3000 other medieval scholars from all the world. It’s officially called:
But to most of my scholarly friends, it’s just called affectionately, “Kalamazoo”
Yep, I’m piling two friends and my Dad into the car, and driving 13 hours west from my New Jersey hometown. And this is fun. Really geeky fun, but still! Why, I hear you ask, would you do such a thing? I will tell you! Because this is a place where more than half the men and women I know who care about medieval clothing and textiles (my geeky scholarly interest/hobby) will all be. And we’ll stay up too late, drinking wine and eating cheese and chocolate, talking about stuff we learned this past year. And comparing notes with these people will give me new, better ideas. Which eventually I will publish in “Dress”, “Costume”, “Medieval Costume & Textiles”, “Textile History” or “Fashion Theory”. Or in my own brilliantly-written books…
(note the LibGuide for this scholarly stuff…
http://fitnyc.libguides.com/content.php?pid=153014&sid=1500487, then pick the one for “History of Dress & Fashion Theory”. I’ll be in it one of these days!)
So, you ask, what kinds of sessions does a fashion historian attend? Howabout:
Disorder in the Courts: A Reappraisal of Medieval Sumptuary Law, by Laurel Ann Wilson;
Angevin, Sicilian & French Sumptuary Laws of the 1290s: Furs, Trains, and New Clothes, by Sarah-Grace Heller (by whom we have many books in the library here), to name a few.
Or another session:
Ancient Fiber Crop Cultivation on a Twenty-First-Century College Campus, by Alicia Engstrom; and
Seeds, Scutches, and Retting Pits: Archaeological Sources for Medieval Fiber Production, by Heidi M. Sherman.
Yeah, that’s some pretty esoteric stuff. But hearing what people are doing and seeing how other scholars are thinking about stuff will inspire *me* to do better work. Not birthday cake, to be sure. But BETTER!! Inspiration and stuff I love!