I’ve just returned from the 2014 meeting of the Medieval Academy of America at UCLA. After the brutal winter in Toronto, a trip to Los Angeles was like a voyage to paradise. My paper, “The Role of Emotion in Travel Between Worlds in Medieval Visionary Journeys,” was in the last concurrent session of the conference on the afternoon of the 12th. The session gave me a chance to present some material adapted from a chapter of my dissertation to a wider audience, and the Q&A gave me some ideas regarding future publication.

The larger theme of the meeting, “Empire and Encounters,” provided an opportunity to see how medievalists are both leading and responding to the current imperative for humanities scholarship to address the spirit of globalization. In one of the sessions I visited, I heard work regarding European portrayals of attempts to conquer the Canary Islands that found themselves stuck between chivalry, crusade, and something that sounds more like familiar colonialism. In another session, the encounter was between different social classes in medieval English towns and cities.

My own current work is also attempting to approach the issue of encounters between cultures, regions, and ideologies by interrogating how the categories of “same” or “different” were conceived. I found the meeting an exciting chance to see the evolving state of the field as well as the diversity possible within the current “global” imperative.      .

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