On July 4-7 2016, I participated in the International Medieval Congress (IMC) at Leeds. This was my first paper given at IMC and it was a surreal and fantastic experience. My paper was part of session 516, “Myth and Identity in Medieval Britain,” hosted by the Cardiff University’s Medieval & Early Modern Research Initiative and organized by Cardiff’s own Vicky Shirley. While the other two papers in the panel: first, Diarmuid Scully, from University College Cork gave a paper titled “Gerald of Wales and the Trojan Britons in Ireland,” and Vicky Shirley spoke on “Hengist and the Foundation of England in the Galfridian Chronicle Tradition.” The panel focused on twelfth century myth creation in the British Isles and their effects on historiography, politics and identity. My paper had the same focus, but for the fifteenth century: “Macduff, Thane of Fife, and the Mythologization of the Scottish Past in Andrew of Wyntoun’s Orygynale Cronykil.” I have been working on Malcolm Canmore’s portrayal in Wyntoun’s Cronikyl for over a year now, and giving a paper on Macduff instead allowed me to pursue other questions on the creation of Scottish identity and kingship during the late medieval period as witnessed by chronicles.
Now, the most important reason to participate in congresses as IMC. at least for me, is to obtain feedback on our drafts, to listen to and disseminate new ideas, and to learn what others in the field are doing. Pursuing a PhD in Scottish history outside of Scotland can be a challenge in this respect: sometimes, it feels that I am not part of the “action” because I am not studying anywhere near the British Isles. Attending conferences outside of North America becomes a necessity in my field, a professional life line of sorts. The IMC was especially important because of this: I was able to disseminate my research on Wyntoun’s Cronikyl, Malcolm Canmore, and Macduff to both a wider but more specialized audience, and I was able to get the feedback I need to test my ideas and take them one step further.
In very recent years, historians have taken to social media and blogging as a way of distributing their research and forming conversations with other academics in other parts of the world. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have become instrumental in bringing academics from different places together, helping us share our research and obtain valuable feedback. Live-tweeting papers has become a norm in many conferences, and it was certainly not an exception in the case of IMC Leeds. Melissa Julian-Jones, the chair of Session 516 of the IMC, live-tweeted my paper so here’s the link: https://twitter.com/MedievalMJJ/status/750350777663811584