Ohio State University
President: John J. Contreni,
Friday, October 9, 1981
Reception for Conference Participants. Fawcett Center.
Saturday, October 10, 1981
and Coffee. Fawcett Center.
10:00 Morning Session
Presiding: Donald W. Sutherland, University of Iowa
Welcome: Diether Haenicke, Dean of the College of Humanities
12:00 Lunch and Business Meeting. Fawcett Center.
2:00 Afternoon Session
Presiding: Karl F. Morrison, University of Chicago
5:00 Reception (Cash Bar). Fawcett Center.
7:00 Dinner and Twentieth Anniversary Address
Presiding: John J. Contreni, Purdue University
Richard E. Sullivan, Michigan State University
This year I have decided that the trouble with minutes lies in their narrow perspective, which normally is limited to the view of a single observer. Accustomed as we are to television reporting with its eyewitness interviews, it seems only proper that we expect the same level of reportage from a conference secretary whose principle function seems to be to provide a roundup on what was news last year. So without further ado, let me be your anchorman for a report on last year's Midwest Medieval Conference. Let's hear first from a dispassionate observer of the whole affair. Here is Calvin Gross, the desk clerk at our hotel.
DESK CLERK: Yes, during the conference I was on duty here at the Fawcett Center for Tomorrow. Of course we have conferences through here all the time, but I remember this one well. It was booked with us by Dr. Lynch of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies here on campus. I suppose that was why we billed his conference on our bulletin board as "The Midwest Medieval and Renaissance Conference." But no harm done. Dr. Lynch soon set us straight and removed the offending words with his own hands. Those profs can be so sensitive, you know. After all, we can't be concerned with the fine points of history. Like, for sure, we're not the Fawcett Center for Yesterday. Well, Dr. Lynch's conference, whatever it was called, was not exactly a big conference by our standards--only fifty or so, as I recall--but it had what I would call "a high festivity factor." The reception they had the night before was scheduled to close down at eleven but somehow the help were invited to have a nightcap and things did drag on a bit. But nothing like those welfare workers we had last week.
ANCHOR: Thank you Calvin Gross for your view of the conference from the other side of the desk. Now for the morning session, we have a report from one in the audience, Mr. Ernest Ambler.
GRADUATE STUDENT: This was a conference I couldn't miss. You see, I'm a graduate student in medieval English history at Torpid State University, and when my major professor--I suppose you've heard of him? Phil Anglo!--when he showed me the program, I just knew I had to be there. What a program! With Donald Sutherland himself presiding! The first paper, by Michael Hoeflich, was a bit early and too continental for me, but he did a fine job of showing what a problem it was in the Early Middle Ages getting the judges to abide by the law. The next paper, by Sue Sheridan Walker, was my kind of social history, though. I had always thought that women were the victims of feudal wardship, but now it appears that in England there were more teenage males who were forced to marry against their will. But talk about revisionists, Robert Palmer really turned my head around. The textbooks all say that the English county courts were the political training ground for the knights of the shire, but now Palmer has demonstrated that the barons really controlled the courts and usually didn't even bother to attend in person. Well, goodbye, seedbed of parliamentary democracy. Yes, it was a great program, just what I needed.
ANCHOR: Well, thank you for sharing your enthusiasm Ernest. Next we will hear about the luncheon and business meeting as seen from the rostrum itself. Here is conference President John J. Contreni to tell us how he conducted that meeting.
CONTRENI: Actually the secretary should be better qualified than I am to report the proceedings, but since the meeting followed my written agenda quite closely, I am in fact able to reconstruct it with some degree of certainty. First, of course, I thanked Joe Lynch, Frank Pegues, and their dean--ummm, Diether Haenicke--for the local arrangements; and then Michael Altshul and the program committee. After that Skip Kay read his minutes--a kind of rambling scholastic quaestio about Toronto, if I recall correctly--and they were duly approved.
Next the nominating committee, headed by John Barker [assisted by Greg Guzman and Julius Kirshner], presented the following slate of conference officers: president: Tim Runyan; vice-president: Joe Lynch; councilors: Mike Altschul and John Henneman; secretary-treasurer: Skip Kay. These nominations were approved, if I may turn a phrase, "with spontaneous good will." Then I elicited an accounting from the treasurer, who reported that the conference assets at present amounted to exactly twenty-three cents.
Invitations were then in order for future conferences. Since we had already accepted my invitation to Purdue in 1982, it was for 1983 that Randy Daniel invited us to the University of Kentucky in Lexington, and this was followed by yet another invitation, for 1984, two years after next, which David Wagner extended on behalf of Tom Blomquist and Northern Illinois University at DeKalb. Naturally, both invitations were accepted, somewhat irregularly, by acclamation.
I then raised the delicate and perennial question of our possible affiliation with the Medieval Association of the Midwest, whose secretary, Merle Fifield, had been urging a joint meeting. To secure the sense of the conference, I proposed that we consider affiliation on a one-year trial basis, and Altschul seconded the resolution, but since no one voted in favor of it, the issue is now presumably settled once and for all. As an afterthought, our missus dominicus to CARA passed on a few announcements of which I have no record.
ANCHOR: That's the picture form the president's chair, and I'm sure we all thank you, John. Moving on to the afternoon session, we have a report from a charming coed from Ohio State--Miss Valerie Vacant.
UNDERGRADUATE: Really, I'm not a member of the conference, you know, but Professor Lynch told our class that we'd be welcome, and that, like, we'd better believe it. Well, with midterms coming up, I though it might, well, improve my image if I came, so that I was trying to follow Ann Warren through a lot of statistics and charts and stuff about ... I think its "anchorites"? ... and almsgiving. Anyway, King Henry II--that's the "Lion in Winter"--paid these hermits, like, a penny a day, which was what everyone got anyway. She was real clear but I'm not sure what Randy Daniel said about... about... (it's here in my program) "Abbot Joachim of Fiore's Place in the Twelfth Century." I guess God used to be close to people, but this You-hack-em guy put nature in the way and made the Trinity go through channels and work though history instead. So I was glad when that Jan Van der Meulen showed some slides of Gothic cathedrals, but I couldn't take any notes in the dark, so I just enjoyed it. Now my problem is how do I work some of this stuff into my midterm?
ANCHOR: Valerie, now you know everything you wanted to know about the Middle Ages but were afraid to ask. Thank you for putting us in the picture. And now to wrap up the meeting for us, we have the conference host, Professor Joseph Lynch of Ohio State University.
LYNCH: I though this was the twentieth meeting of the conference, and so it seemed appropriate to have a retrospective address by our first president, Richard E. Sullivan, entitled "Vigesimal Reckoning: Medieval and Modern." Dick did a beautiful job, even though I couldn't appreciate it fully, distracted as I was by own reckoning about whether the conference was going to break even. Anyway, Dick treated us to an analogy between our own twenty years and the score of years between 410 and 430 A.D. The Mediaeval Academy was the Empire, I believe, and the Midwest Medieval Conference was its federate ally that crossed the Rhine pursued by CARA, which somehow represented the Huns. As I said, I was distracted. But like a faithful comitatus, Dick was attended by the three survivors from that first meeting at Carbondale: Karl Morrison, Marjorie Gesner, and Skip Kay. Of course we all enjoyed it immensely and at the end gave him a standing ovation. As for the president's reception, perhaps it is best to say that it was "traditional."