University of Cincinnati
President: Lon R. Shelby, Southern
Illinois University at Carbondale
Midwest Medieval Conference
Saturday, November 2, 1968
Tangeman University Center,
WELCOME: Hilmar C. Krueger, Dean of the University
AND BUSINESS MEETING,
2:30 p.m. AFTERNOON SESSION
SOCIAL HOUR, Hotel Alms
6:30 DINNER, Hotel Alms, Inn Room
Mid-Year Update Letter
April 29, 1968
The Seventh Annual meeting of the Midwest Medieval Conference will be held at the University of Cincinnati on Saturday, November 2, 1968. The local arrangements committee is being chaired by Professor Steve Slessarev, who will be sending you more detailed information on the meeting place, hotel reservations, etc. Professor John Barker is chairing the programs committee, and from what he has indicated to me, it looks like we will have another fine program of scholarly papers. For those of us who have not been to Cincinnati before, we can also look forward to getting acquainted with the university and the city, under the suave leadership that we have come to associate with Steve Slessarev.
Even the business session promises to provide some matters of real interest to us all. At the recent Council meeting of the Medieval Academy of America, the question was raised about the relationship of the Academy to the regional medieval conferences that have developed in the midwest and on the Pacific coast. There was a favorable response to this question, and Professor Robert S. Hoyt will discuss that response at our business meeting. The Midwest Medieval Conference, represented by the members at the business meeting, may in turn wish to respond to the Council of the Medieval Academy.
Consideration was also given at the Council meeting to the International Medieval Bibliography, which as we all know, is sponsored by the Department of History, University of Minnesota, under the directorship of Professor Hoyt. Professor Hoyt will report on the outcome of the deliberations concerning this research tool that has already become an indispensable part of our scholarly workshops.
In short, it looks like another fine meeting is taking shape, so that we can all look forward to the papers, the scholarly discussions, the academic gossip, and the hearty imbibing of food and drink which have provided the formula for so many successful meetings of the Midwest Medieval Conference.
I look forward to seeing each of you in Cincinnati.
Lon R. Shelby
President, Midwest Medieval Conference
From time to time every experienced medieval chronicler is expected to remark some instructive sign or portentous wonder that has foreshadowed great events. In the annals of the Midwest Medieval Conference, the present chapter bears the remarkable number seven, which no doubt predisposed the extraordinary business contained therein. [To be sure, this was the sixth annual business meeting, but the secretary here included in his reckoning the first meeting at the University of Southern Illinois at Carbondale (May 4, 1963), when the conference proceeded aconstitutionally without benefit of either officers or minutes.]
This sign was strengthened by the wonderful fact that in that year of our Lord 1968, the medievalists of the American Midwest held their traditional Octoberfest on the second of November. To be sure, October has always been an elastic month, but medieval bishops prudently scheduled their synods in mid-October in order to enjoy the clement weather of the indian summers patronized by Saint Luke. However, the wisdom centuries weighed as a feather against the gravid contingencies of the modern academic, not to say athletic, calendar. Quid plura? We met under clouded skies that showered their traditional blessing on All Souls.
The conference, of course, was safely sheltered by its generous host, the University of Cincinnati, which housed us in a certain Losantiville Room, the etymology of which name would have made Isidore cringe. There we heard papers too memorable to mention and contemplated the number seven, anticipating that our seventh luncheon would be one of exceptional gravity, if only because our organization had at last attained the age of reason. Once again our professional prescience was not mistaken, and I shall proceed to chronicle our momentous deliberations in every particular for a grateful posterity.
After some 110 medievalists banqueted, President Lon Shelby heard the minutes with forbearance. Turning to more important things, he thanked those who had made the conference possible: First our host, the sesquicentegenarian University of Cincinnati; next Professor Slessarev and the local arrangements committee; and finally our impresario, Professor Barker and his program committee.
The president then announced that Professor Hoyt would unveil to us those great events foretold by the signs and wonders aforesaid. The previous spring, Hoyt announced, the august Mediaeval Academy of American had decided to invite regional medieval associations to affiliate themselves with the Academy itself, with the right to return a voting representative to her executive committee. Since the Medieval Association of the Pacific had already seized this opportunity by the forelock, President Shelby, not to be outdone, had designated Professor Hoyt as his nuncio to the Academy during the adoption proceedings. Now the Academy had responded in kind, and in a dramatic gesture it was revealed that the executive secretary of the Academy was himself in our midst, so to speak, for with mediaeval humility he had secreted himself in the uttermost corner of the banquet hall.
Our nuncio then explained that the offer was limited to interdisciplinary groups of medievalists, since the Academy would not wish to be apparented to a dissimilar body, for example one composed of medieval historians. "Absolutely" interjected Secretary Elliott from the gallery. Anxious conference regulars, remembering our continuing identity crisis, hasted to consult the current printed program, and the hall echoed with their sighs of relief as it was discovered that the now obnoxious word "History" had departed from the conference title as surreptitiously as it had appeared two years previously.
Professor Hoyt concluded by proposing to the conference (with a second from John Summerfeldt) some three resolutions approved the night before by our executive council: (1) That the conference reaffirms its titular character as a midwestern and medieval body, neither limited to historians nor national in scope. (2) That it affiliate with the Mediaeval Academy of America on that basis. (3) That it sponsor an appropriate publication. It was observed that the third article was something of a non sequitur and by common consent it was deleted from the bill and reserved for separate consideration. Reduced thus to essentials, the Hoyt Act carried unanimously.
President Shelby thereupon proposed that the present representative improvisation to be continued during the coming year, and that a permanent system of representation be adopted at next year's meeting on the basis of this experience. We consented by acclamation.
Though exhilarated at the prospect of a Mediaeval American step-parent, still filial piety was not forgotten as we returned to the question of an appropriate publication, which straightaway was propounded by James Powell, our founder. He urged that the conference sponsor a publication that would not be a journal but rather (and I quote) "a vehicle for basic communications within our chosen field of study, oriented to practical day-to-day concerns rather than to research interests." He moved that we establish a committee to consider this proposal, and was seconded by Sommerfeldt. The reactions were many, and might have proved infinitely various had not the question been called, with the result that a committee was unanimously empowered to proceed in the matter ad infinitum. To this service the president appointed Professors Daly, Kaegi, and Sullivan, with Powell himself as chairman of the publication committee.
Having successfully disposed the great issues of the day, the remainder of the session followed a familiar and downward course. Professor Bennett Hill rose to give the conference its annual lease on life with an invitation to convene next year at the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois. On the motion of Professor Sullivan, we eagerly accepted.
Next James Brundage, in his capacity as chairman of the nominating committee (Ware and Pegues) presented the slate of officers for the coming year, which was approved unanimously as follows: president: Donald Sutherland; vice-president: David Herlihy; secretary: Richard Kay; councillors: Katherine Fischer Drew and Karl Morrison; and representative: Stuart Hoyt.
The month before the meeting, James Powell of Syracuse University sent the following letter to attendees:
October 2, 1968
We have all been very pleased with the progress made by the Midwest Medieval Conference in the last five years and most of us have thought that such success was well-merited by the quality of papers and the enthusiasm of the group. One question that has long concerned us is the matter of geographical limits and content of the papers. In light of these questions, I wish to make the following proposal for consideration by the officers and council.
I recommend that the name of the Midwest Conference be changed to the Medieval History Society and that we ask the Mediaeval Academy for official affiliation as a component group. I further suggest that our annual meeting be held as at present, but that the length of the meeting be increased to two days, Friday and Saturday, with a format of eight papers and a dinner address. There should also be some changes in organization. The Council should be enlarged to include not only past Presidents but also a good representation from all geographical areas -- about ten members. I also suggest that the Society institute regular dues of $5.00 per year, for which members would receive Medieval History, a biennial journal dedicated to review articles of major books, News and Notes, Personal information, and occasional bibliographical articles for special fields.
If this proposal appeals to you, I would appreciate your ideas for further development of it. If you have objections, we can talk about them in Cincinnati.
James M. Powell
The Council discussed the proposal and decided to explore the idea of a journal, forming a committee chaired by Jim Powell.