Next week: The International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University

Just a short one to say that I’m heading off to my favorite conference of the year next week, the ICMS at WMU, known as K’zoo to loyal attendees because the university is located in Kalamazoo.  If there’s a more convivial gathering of scholars, I don’t know what it is.  I look forward to this event every year because it means I get to see some of my best friends in the world, but also because it’s the one time in the year when I get to re-immerse myself in the field of medieval studies.

This year, I’m blending my interests in medieval literature and brain-based learning theories.  I’m taking part in a session sponsored by the journal postmedieval called “Burn after Reading:  Miniature Manifestoes for a Post/medieval Studies.”  There are 12 panelists, and we are each presenting a 2-3 minute “flash” paper.  Mine is called “This is Your Brain on Medieval Studies,” and I’m discussing some of the ideas from my book project on college teaching, cognitive neuroscience, and the humanities.  I’ll be arguing that Medieval Studies is an ideal field for helping us to understand how students learn the subjects that traditionally constitute the humanities, because it is interdisciplinary, involves the study of other languages, and frequently presents students with what I call “narratives of alterity,” where they must wrestle with a variety of ideas that are different from and often conflict with each other.  The combination of these helps the brain to build new neural networks and helps train it to break knowledge down into stories and metaphors.  It should be a really fun session, and I’m looking forward to hearing the other papers and engaging in the dialogue.

I also organized and am moderating the two sessions for the Society for the Study of Disability in the Middle Ages:  “The Future of Medieval Disability Studies:  Where Do We Go from Here?” and “Gender, Sexuality, and Disability.”

It promises to be a fun week!

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