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There are many fewer Medievalist and Early Modernists in Australia and New Zealand than I thought. I suspect cutbacks, but it might be time of year. In other words, ANZAMEMS is no bigger than Conflux. It's easier to be shy in a smaller group, so it's just as well that people are friendly. I did leave after the reception, though, and had a quiet evening with my mother*.

I checked my email before I went out to congregate, however. I'm rather pleased by the editor's comments on an upcoming academic review of mine (he liked it!). That was my last truly coherent moment of the day.

Thanks to a comment by >lj user="highly_eccentric"> I am pondering the codes by which one can clasify Medievalists. Dress code (I break this code, it seems - I explained it's because I dress like an SF writer, but I suspect it's because I dress like Gillian), names (who knows whom and which circles - we had a nice little circle of folks that knew John O Ward at one stage), specialisation (some people classify by period, but the experts in matters monastic defined themselves by order, me, I kept saying "historiography" but it's really narratives and historiography is only a component), and institution. It seems that it's still normal for Australians to identify with one institution, which left me trying to explain that the institution on my label was only partly right and that I was actually at the ANU (but only sort of) and that my primary affiliation was Melbourne Unviersity, but...I should stop saying these things. They're true, but no-one's interested, really, and all it means is that my identity is a lot more tangled in that respect than most people's. It's like trying to explain what I write, but at least I have a nice answer for the fiction. "Speculative fiction" is such a lovely and broad category.

I lost a few minutes of the early part of the program to memories, because they mentioned Leonard Boyle. He would have hated my scholarship, but he was such a lovely man. I keep wondering if part of the almost-ex-pope's proems were based on him not having a Leonard Boyle as his predecesor did.

And then I lost a bit more to internal cogitation, because a lot of the scholarship on display this afternoon provoked thoughts. I think I need to expand the range of one of my chapters in the book-to-be and I finally have a decent title for it.

And I lost even more when I realised that Medievalists have the same propensity for literate puns as spec fic writers. The pleanary this afternoon was call "A Tale of Two Summae," you see. (I need to revisit Aquinas - but when will I find time? So many interesting things to do and so little time! Anyhow, the talk was mainly about Antoninus, and I've not read him and I ought to do that too.) Also, Frater Diabolus needs to appear in my fiction sometime. There are so not enough devils who raid monastic libraries for ideas in my writing.

The plenary was full of useful thoughts, and perhaps one of the best definitions of genre I have seen. This got me thinking about techniques writers use to make their writing internally consistent, for we were shown texts that borrowed from other texts and it struck me that borowing and plagiarism are the easiest ways of doing this. Derivative writing makes a whole bunch of technical aspects of writing easier, I guess, which explains why it appears so very often.

For a good twenty minutes this afternoon I just let the language of medieval scholarship roll past while I analysed it. It's not nearly as different to the language of SF criticism as it used to be. The vocabulary is vastly different, but the concepts, less so. This is why my two worlds aren't so hard to bring together right now, I suspect. I don't know if this is a kind of broad-based cultural discourse, or communities of thought that overlap, or something else entirely.

Now I'm past making sense, which means it's bedtime. If you're very lucky, I will bring you more random and disconnected thoughts tomorrow.

*This is partly because there is just a little bushfire smoke here, which would not be a problem if I hadn't walked two kilometres in it. It all depends on which way the wind is blowing, so mostly I'm fine, but mostly isn't quite good enough. Well, it will pass.

May 2013

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