Seventeenth Annual


Michigan State University


President: Donald E. Queller, University of Illinois
Vice-president: Marcia Colish, Oberlin College
Secretary-Treasurer: Richard Kay, University of Kansas
Councilors: John Barker, University of Wisconsin; John Freed, Illinois State University 
Nominations Chair: Timothy Runyan, Cleveland State University
Local Arrangements: Richard Sullivan, Michigan State University

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Friday, November 3, 1978

9:00 -              Reception and cash bar
11:00 p.m.       Red Cedar Room, Kellogg Center


Saturday, November 4, 1978

8:30 a.m.         Registration, Kellogg Center
                        Coffee, Room 103

10:00              General Session, Room 103
                        Chairperson: Richard E. Sullivan, Dean,
                        College of Arts and Letters
                        Michigan State University, East Lansing

Clarence L. Winder, Provost
Michigan State University, East Lansing

10:30              General Session, Room 103
                        Chairperson: Professor Elizabeth A. R. Brown
                        Brooklyn College, City University of New York

A Problem in Interdisciplinary Research: The Barbarian Invasion
Walter Goffart, University of Toronto

Education in the Early Middle Ages: New Perspectives and Old Problems
John J. Contreni
Purdue University, West Lafayette

12:15 p.m.      Lunch, Red Cedar Room
                        Society of Midwest Medieval Historians
                        Business Meeting
                        Chairperson: Professor Donald Queller
                        University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana

2:00                General Session, Room 103
                        Chairperson: Professor Bennett Hill
                        University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana

The Venetian Response to Colonial Expansion
Louise Buenger Robbert
University of Missouri, St. Louis

Frederick Jackson Turner, Walter Prescott Webb, Geoffrey Barraclough and Charlemagne: Frontiers in Carolingian History
Thomas F. X. Noble
Texas Technological University, Lubbock

Changing Views in British History: An Assessment of Recent Work and New Directions for Research in Medieval History
Barbara Hanawalt
Indiana University, Bloomington

5:00                Reception, Red Cedar Room

6:00                Dinner, Red Cedar Room
                        The Social Background of Early Asceticism
                        Peter Brown
                        University of California, Berkeley

Meeting Minutes

[Note on web version: Where possible I have attempted to locate the original images used -- or those very like them.  Where not possible I include Skip Kay's description of the slide at the appropriate point in the minutes. -TM]

It has been some time now since we have been told that "the medium is the message."  Now we are being told that generation raised on television needs visual images to put them in touch with the past.  The effect of these doctrines has sent many a teacher into his classroom armed with a a slide projector, but to my knowledge it has not yet been used to enliven an otherwise colorless set of minutes.  Always eager to be on the cutting edge of things, however, I now bring you the latest in secretarial technology--"Images of the Last Meeting--An Audio-Visualization of the Minutes," or, something to lat at since you have nothing else to do.

The sixteenth annual meeting of the Midwest Medieval Conference was held in the commodious Kellogg Center at Michigan State University in East Lansing on November 4, 1978.  

This was the first time that the conference had returned to the site of an earlier meeting, for our second annual meeting, in 1964, had also taken place there.  This time, however, our program was preceded, the night before, by a reception and cash bar.

The morning sessions was opened by our host, Dean Richard Sullivan,

and was presided over by Peggy Brown.  

The first paper was given by Walter Goffart, 

who, in discussing "The Barbarian Invasion" as "A Problem in Interdisciplinary Research," poured Byzantine fire upon the troubled waters of Germantumswissenschaft, and he concluded by advising us that any map we might have of the Völkerwanderung could now be destroyed in good conscience--which is why I have none to show you.  Next John Contreni spoke on "Education in the Early Middle Ages: New Perspectives and Old Problems," from which I gathered that a new history of the educational methods of the Carolingian Renaissance could be obtained by reading between the lines.


followed, in the Red Cedar Room, where according to the program, the "Society of Midwest Medieval Historians" held its annual business meeting.  The occasion was enlivened by the presence next door of a simultaneous meeting of the "Midwest Pop Culture Association."

Presiding over us was our genial doge for the day, President Don Queller.  

The minutes of the last meeting were once again medievalized by the secretary,

this time as a Venetian ambassador's report.  Next, Richard Face presented a tribute to the late Steve Slessarev, former president of the conference and one of its founders, especially recalling his dignity, integrity, and humanity.

After this memorial Julian Plante invited the conference to meet next year at Saint John's University, home of the Monastic Microfilm Project.

Then the nominating committee, all in absentia and headed by Tim Runyan, 

presented the following slate, which not unexpectedly was received by acclamation: 

president: Marcia Colish; vice-president: John Barker; councillors: Joe Lynch and Renata Wolf; and secretary-treasurer: the incumbent.  

Next the president called for a report on the meeting of the Mediaeval Academy's Committee on Centers and Regional Associations,

otherwise known as CARA, but no report was forthcoming, since no one present had been to the meeting.  There being no further business, our meeting was adjourned and the afternoon session soon opened under the chairpersonship of Bennett Hill.

The first paper was a review by Barbara Hanawalt of the last decade's work in British history; 

since the reviewer was unable to appear, her paper was read instead by Don Sutherland.  Next Louis Buenger Robbert examined in detail "The Venetian Response to Colonial Expansion," which apparently was enthusiastic, to say the least, since Venice made herself mistress--so to speak--of much of Romania--37.5%, to be precise.  

Finally, the afternoon concluded with a shoot-out on the Carolingian frontier, 

where Texan Tom Noble picked off in quick succession Frederick Jackson Turner, Walter Prescott Webb, and Geoffrey Barraclough.

Whereupon another reception

prepared us for dinner, after which the day's principal speaker, Peter Brown, put "The Social Background of Early Asceticism" in a new perspective.  It seems that the hermits of the early church went off into the desert because they found town life entirely too obnoxious.  Not so our community, which trooped off to end the day and the conference with yet another president's reception of legendary proportions.

In conclusion, I am obliged to state that the preparation of these minutes has been supported by a grant from a foundation that in this connections strictly prohibits me from mentioning its name. [Here was shown a "proud papa's picture of newborn Sally Kay on a blanket.]


From the Program: The annual Midwest Medieval Conference serves to establish and to maintain linkages among the growing number of midwest historians active in medieval studies.  The conference provides an opportunity to interact with colleagues who share a geographic region and a common concern for the Middle Ages.  Likewise, the conference is a vehicle for reporting new research and learning what others are doing.  This year the Midwest Medieval Conference is focused on historiography, the study of historians' interpretations.  While several papers examine the interpretive viewpoints of primary sources, others stress more general analytic concepts. A conferee can gain new perspectives on the Middle Ages and fresh guidance for further research.

Professor Peter Brown, the principal speaker, is the author of St. Augustine, A Biography, and The World of Late Antiquity.  These remarkable works are provocative new interpretations of familiar sources.  Both suggest entirely new conceptual tools for understanding an ambiguous and difficult period of profound change.  In his presentation at the conclusion of this conference, Professor Brown will assess the role of asceticism in the this social setting.

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