Georgie Fitzgibbon’s IMC Experience

Leeds IMC 2015

I am a MA Medieval Studies student at the University of Birmingham, and this year CeSMA funded my attendance at the IMC. I travelled up to Leeds with Ruth (Hi Ruth and yay for the Megabus), and managed to catch up with a lot of Birmingham students – the medievalist disco was especially fun! The book and craft fairs (complete with falconry, weapon demonstrations and cake) gave the campus a great atmosphere. The scale of the IMC provides lots of opportunities to network. It was great to meet other Midlands3Cities students, and Emma, who runs the Medieval Midlands site.

In addition to fascinating papers on relic labels, the distillation of hagiography into liturgy and the production of gospel books, I was able to play tourist and hear about medieval board games! Though I arrived at the IMC armed with an annotated programme, the scope of the IMC and the range of panels meant that I found myself attending sessions more removed from my research interests that caught my eye or were suggested by new acquaintances.

I will start my PhD at UoB in September (on Cistercian Monasticism and the Cult of Saint’s Relics c1100-c1250) and was excited to attend the series of panels sponsored by Citeaux Commentarii Cistercienses. The interdisiplinarity of these panels was impressive, ranging from close-reading of texts such as Exempla to archaeology and material culture.

helmetWe finished our week with a trip to the Royal Armouries (a museum I would definitely recommend); below is a picture of the best helmet!

I am so grateful to CeSMA for helping me to attend the IMC, hopefully I’ll present one year soon!


The CeSMA IMC Road Trip, or Four Merry Pilgrims Take Leeds!

IMC Party Boy and Gals
The Four Merry CeSMA Pilgrims about to hit the road. Foreground, L-R Ian Styler, Beth Spacey. Background L-R Claire Harrill, Janine Bryant

Sunday July 5th Designated driver (and pilgrimage expert) Ian Styler picks up the rest of the merry band and we hit the road for Leeds. Despite some pesky roadwords and a raincloud that looks like the apocalypse, we arrive safe and sound, and ready for the IMC!

Monday July 6th 

The Four Merry Pilgrims discover the Breakfast Buffet
The Four Merry Pilgrims discover the Breakfast Buffet

The first full day of the IMC begins! First-timer Claire Harrill gives a paper on St Margaret of Scotland and fictions of eleventh-century Church reform as part of a Legal and Religious reform panel alongside Lucy Hinnie of Edinburgh and Jen Hough of Liverpool Hope.  We make a valorous but ultimately unsuccessful attempt at the IMC pub quiz as a post-panel celebration.             

Tuesday July 7th

The IMC Bookfair, a.k.a. Temptation Station
The IMC Bookfair, a.k.a. Temptation Station

Both Ian Styler and Janine Bryant brave the 9am slot. Jan’s panel features the lovely Emily Rozier – also of Birmingham – on the galaunt and attitudes to youth in 15th century England. The q&a features trivia on the swimming abilities of people in the middle ages (given that so many of them seemed to have drowned) and Jan is assured by a lady from Australia that pigs were responsible for deaths there too. So it seems that Orwell was right… Ian’s paper is part of an East-Anglian saints special, and Æthelthryth has to compete for attention with St Edmund of Bury St Edmunds. A very well-behaved Claire resists pointing out in the q&a that St Margaret is obviously superior to all other saints. Our collective restraint wavers in the face of the IMC Bookfair (or as I like to call it, temptation station). Though we weren’t the only ones who succumbed… spotted

Wednesday July 8th

Claire and Beth have a jolly yet dignified time at the disco.
Claire and Beth have a jolly yet dignified time at the disco.

2015 marks Beth Spacey’s third consecutive year at Leeds IMC. She gives her paper on the role of the miraculous in Fourth Crusade narratives on the Wednesday morning, during the first of five panels which she has co-organised, entitled ‘Constructing the Crusades: Representation, Reinterpretation and Memory’. To take a look at the tweets from Beth’s panels, check out the Storify of the sessions. In the evening the CeSMA IMC team brave the (in)famous IMC disco to great success. This year the dance featured a live covers band and all of the best disco classics, including “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.

Thursday July 9th IMG_0279Thursday is the last day of the IMC, and today’s activities (along with the last of the panels) include ‘Making Leeds Medieval’, featuring a birds of prey display and a medieval craft fair with demonstrations. Beth goes to the final three of the ‘Constructing the Crusades’ panels, which were very well attended despite kicking-off in the 9am post-dance time slot! Then it’s time to get back in the Ianmobile and head back to Brum accompanied by the music stylings of car DJ Beth and her “Now That’s What I Call Disney” CD. Thanks, IMC!

PG Blog special: Janine Bryant on writing her IMC Paper

I decided to call my paper for Leeds IMC “Killed by Evil-Doers and Bitten by Pigs: The Hazardous Experiences of Medieval Childhood as Shown through Coroners’ Rolls”. I duly submitted this last year and (if I’m being totally honest here….) promptly forgot about it and moved on to another area of study. However when I began to write this paper I was really quite shocked by my own title – did children really suffer such fates? And, of course the answer is yes.

The medieval coroner had a number of responsibilities which included investigating deaths which occurred suddenly, unnaturally or in suspicious circumstances, as well as any deaths which occurred in prison. The circumstances of each death was recorded and so by noting how a person died they inadvertently note how that person was living at the time, thus providing wonderful snippets of everyday life in England in the Late Middle Ages.

My paper will explain the origins of the coroner and the joys and challenges of using coroners’ rolls as a primary source. I really want to highlight the rich material that the rolls contain and so will include several anecdotal cases of children whose deaths were recorded in the rolls of London, Bedfordshire and Warwickshire from 1265 – 1392. These occurred in a variety of ways – children suffered accidents whilst playing, fell in to wells, got struck by lightning as well as being bitten by pigs. In addition the rolls highlight other aspects of childhood such as exposure to violence and poverty.

I also want to take a more analytical approach to the rolls which will form the final part of my paper. My research to date has shown that there are very definite differences between patterns of child death in urban and rural environments, as well as gender differences which I want to explore. Analysis of the rolls also indicates other trends, for example deaths which occurred whilst playing stop at 8 years of age but are replaced instead by work-related accidents.

Writing this paper has not only served to highlight just how much rich material is contained in the rolls but also how patterns of child deaths varied according to location and gender. A much broader study of this subject is required which is fine – I hadn’t got much planned for the next few years!

IMC NEWS: ‘Constructing the Crusades’: A panel series at this year’s Leeds IMC co-sponsored by CeSMA

This year’s International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds is fast approaching; bringing with it several days of fascinating discussion, international networking opportunities, and let’s not forget the gauntlet that is the excellent book fair (from which it is almost impossible to emerge without a much heavier suitcase and decidedly lighter wallet). I’m particularly looking forward to this year, as I’ve co-organised a series of five panels entitled ‘Constructing the Crusades: Representation, Reinterpretation and Memory.’ The idea for this strand arose from a conversation between myself and Stephen Spencer (Queen Mary University of London), who is also currently in the final stages of his PhD researching emotions in crusade narratives.

But before all of the non-crusade specialists out there begin backing away slowly, as though the t-rex-like crusade historian’s vision is dependent on sudden movement (given the frequency with which I trip over my cat I can assure you that it is not), please be comforted that these sessions are intended to be accessible and beneficial to anyone with an interest in the application of literary and narrative theory to the practise of medieval history. As such we have organised our speakers around particular themes or approaches, which speak to more diverse scholarly interests. They are as follows:  Narratives, Re-evaluations, Discourses of Power, Memory, and Reinterpretations. My paper, for example, which will feature in the ‘Narratives’ session, engages with how certain authors of crusade histories might have sought to use the miraculous as a means to justify and defend. I will also be considering the problem of how best to tackle medieval belief when using these approaches.

These sessions embrace and reflect the recent steer towards an appreciation of the value of crusade sources beyond the practise of events history. These are rich resources for the study of medieval perceptions, literary production, and cultures. This series of panels brings together a range of individuals who also embrace these approaches in their research. The five resulting sessions comprise speakers ranging from renowned experts to early career scholars in what we hope will be an exciting, insightful, and varied couple of days.

The sessions are co-sponsored by the Centre for the Study of the Middle Ages (University of Birmingham), the Centre for the Study of Islam and the West  (Queen Mary, University of London), and the Society for the Study of the Crusades and the Latin East.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing you in Leeds for the CtC sessions!

CtC Programme

Panel details can also be found on the Leeds IMC’s website, or in this year’s programme, under session numbers 1028, 1128, 1528, 1628 and 1728.  

You can find Beth on Twitter @BCSpacey.