A Reflection on #Kzoo2023 from an #AcademicExpatriate

At the end of the week just past, I had the opportunity once again to take part in the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. As was the case last year, but not in the years about which I have written in this webspace (2018, 2019, and 2020), my participation was virtual; as was not the case last year, but was in previous years, the Congress did have on-site meetings, meaning this year’s exercise was a hybrid event. I continued my work with the Tales after Tolkien Society, about which here, and I do still have a few things to do for it in the coming few days, an attenuation of an academic career attempted in earnest but which was never truly begun.

Yep, this one again.
Image is still mine.

Perhaps it is maudlin; perhaps it is elegaic. I would like to flatter myself that it is the latter.

In any event, it was good to have the reconnection with old friends and to hear new ideas. It was good to have a few of those new ideas, as well, and to push them out into the world, even if only in a small way. (The text of the paper I gave will go online soon; there’re a few things I need to adjust, infelicities noted in passing during the presentation.) It was good to be able to look ahead to some kind of a scholarly future, despite my utter lack of institutional affiliation and the correctness of my decision to get out of the profession of teaching. And, given some of the other context and contacts, there is some hope that others will take up where I have been obliged to leave off, save for the occasional bit of puttering that remains entertained by those scholars I am privileged to know, who yet persist and find reward in the work to which I had hoped to devote myself.

I am not apostate from that priesthood, but I had to leave the ivory tower, never advancing much beyond its basement, if at all.

I was reminded of it this weekend. I do not know if it was not a good thing.

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