Shoptalk: Overheard at Kzoo

The International Congress on Medieval Studies (ICMS) convenes every year at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI, and thus is far better ...

The International Congress on Medieval Studies (ICMS) convenes every year at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI, and thus is far better known as “Kalamazoo,” “Kzoo,” or “the Zoo.” Though the 52nd Congress was witness to a number of tragic upheavals—the on-campus breakfast haunt was closed, the pond swans were nowhere to be seen, and blankets were no longer included with dormitory rooms—it provided medievalists with their brief annual haven in which to feel less like a weirdo and more like one weirdo in a group of 3,000 weirdos. Brought to you from 8:30AM sessions, raucous happy hours, and the infamous Saturday night dance, here are some illustrations of medievalists letting their hair down and saying the kinds of things medievalists say in the wild.


1. “I’m Middle English-curious.”

2. [In the Exhibits Hall, someone blows a hunting horn] “That usually announces the start of cocktail hour.”

3. “Why are they treating you like you’re on a pilgrimage and you’re Margery Kempe?”

4. “I had just become a medievalist then—I’d been a modernist before.”

5. “Never mind, I was thinking of Frodo Baggins.”

6. Person 1: “The dorms are really warm, though.”
Person 2: “That’s beside the point. I want to be swaddled like a baby!”

7. “That’s the thing about a bowel explosion. I mean, it’s disturbing, right? Because it breaks down your subjectivity.”

8. “Isn’t it problematic that we consider some animals more worthwhile than others? I’m just troubled that each fish can’t be a person.”

9. “The vending machines wouldn’t accept nickels as legal tender, so medievalists were just throwing nickels at each other.”

10. Person 1 [at the legendary dance]: “Sorry, what is this song?”
Person 2: “Well, it’s Depeche Mode

Person 1: “Oh, DEPECHE MODE! I am so sorry for disturbing you. Mea culpa.”

11. “The RussiansI mean, I’m sorry, the Romans

12. “If you want to be a Ciceronian, go ahead and be a Ciceronian! See if I care!”

 

Credit and gratitude for this piece are due to quotation contributors Daniel Davies, Spencer Strub, and Lydia Yaitsky Kertz, as well as to everyone who provided moral support along the way. Thanks for a killer time, medievalists! Hope to see you at many more Kzoos, each more radical and inclusive than the last. icon