Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What is this "Kalamazoo" of which you speak?

Reading around the medieval blog-o-web-net-sphere-thingy, I realized that for all the non-academic medievalists out there, all these references to "Kalamazoo" are a bit mysterious. Let me demystify a bit.

Every year, the International Congress on Medieval Studies is hosted by Western Michigan University, which happens to be in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It's the Big Show for scholars of medieval topics, usually hosting in excess of 3000 scholars from around the world. This year's program, for example, shows in excess of 600 sessions. Assuming an average of three papers per session (which is the norm), that means around 900 papers will be delivered. Look at this list of sessions, and you'll see the papers are on every conceivable topic.

The "International Congress on Medieval Studies" is a mouthful, so we usually just refer to it as "The Congress," or "Kalamazoo," or "K'zoo," or even "The 'Zoo." When you read someone's post talking about "Kazoo," they aren't talking about the musical instrument -- it's the conference.

No, it isn't like a Ren Faire or SCA meeting. No one is in costume (the monks and nuns you see really are monks and nuns), and there's no jousting, etc. Still, it's the most fun big conference in any field I know of. For more information on the fun, see "The Knights of the Faculty Lounge." Also, don't forget to listen to the audio report of the dance!

1 comment:

  1. There are papers? I just go for the wine hour, free booze and the dance.


    Last year I foolishly gave two papers: this year I wised up and instead I organized a panel which I'm chairing. Let other people do the work. Suckers!