My Schedule @Worldcon75

header-1200x200WorldCon in Helsinki is coming up shockingly soon. Hope to see you there. I’m unlikely to have much time to post while I’m there, but I’m sure to be tweeting. I hope to meet up with a lot of friends I’ve not seen in a while (relatives, too!). My schedule is conveniently grouped for single day attendance (though I’m arriving Wednesday night):

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For the academic track I will be talking once again about Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (yes, when I get obsessed, I stay obsessed to adapt John Irving’s words). The title of my presentation is ‘Lollard Magician: Jonathan Strange & the Reform of English Magic’ so you can get a sense of where it’s going (assuming you know who Wycliffe is).

But I better get back to finishing it —

Back from Leeds

2016-07-05 12.43.18I am back and will be catching up with more London posts, but in the meantime you can see a bunch of photos from Leeds here. Thanks to Another Damned Medievalist for making me be more social than I was inclined to be without prodding; great to finally meet Dorothy Kim (yes, living an hour or so apart in New York, we finally meet up in Leeds). Met lots of folks, some I’ve been following online some completely new to me, but all terrific encounters.

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Digital Britain & Harvard Art

2016-03-26 08.57.10.jpgI ran off to Cambridge over the weekend to attend the Digital Britain conference and happened to run off from that to wander through some art at the Harvard Art Museums. I put some photos up on a Facebook album because that’s the easiest thing to do (it’s public so you don’t have to belong to Facebook). It was a good weekend. A lot of great ideas, some good conversations, terrific art and reacquainting myself with the city where I lived for some years.

Much has changed: the Harvard Book Store is still there, but few others. Chain stores fill a lot of space in the Square, but it’s still a mad rush of people on a Saturday night. I enjoyed strolling through the campus that used to be so familiar. I even thought I saw an Easter bunny scamper under a hedge but looking closer of course I saw it was only a rat.

I’ll write up the conference itself a bit more for the Digital Humanities Initiative when I get the time. I loved this candelabra because I am immersed in Hannibal at present; there was a sculpture in the same vein which you can see in the album.

Albacon 2016 This Weekend

2016-01-13 14.33.21I will be making an appearance at Albacon this weekend, the local speculative fiction conference. Say hello if you’re around. I can’t promise dragons but I have two panels on Friday at 2 and at 3:

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and one on Sunday at 11:

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See the complete schedule here.

I’ll finally get to hang around with Debi whom I haven’t seen since World Fantasy because we’re both so busy. I do believe she’s planned a high tea. I’ll try to remember to bring some books. I’ve got the last few ‘I’m Pledging Sigma Tau Nu’ badges for Satan’s Sorority, so grab one if you can.

Occult Art & the Language of Birds

Yes, I am going to write up the Occult Humanities conference when I get a moment, but apparently today is not that day. So here are some of the paintings in the Language of Birds exhibit at NYU’s 80WSE gallery that really knocked me out. There was so much more!

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Leonora Carrington’s El Nigromante [The Necromancer]

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Leonor Fini’s Le Carrefour d’hecate

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Alison Blickle’s New Keys

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Juanita Guccione’s Three Women and Three Owls

See a bunch of the artworks here.

In New York City

I can’t vouch for the lord‘s whereabouts but this afternoon I head down to the city for the Occult Humanities conference at NYU, which includes a visit to the lovely Katja so that’s a definite plus. I’m sure I will have stories and photos to share upon my return, though be warned that things continue just as hectic hereabouts while I constantly change hats as I move from project to project.

I never managed to make it down to the city last semester other than heading to the airport. Making plans to get back down again soon, maybe with the lovely QoE Stephanie Johnson to see the cards exhibit at the Cloisters and a few other things (there are always things to see).

 

 

When Worlds Collide

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Our brains like to label things and categorise them neatly. We can ‘unsee’ things we’ve seen if they don’t fit our categories. But we vary in how much we do this: at one end of the spectrum is the rigid labeling that leads to racism and xenophobia, at the other end lies an inability to learn because everything is seen as unique.

I’m not sure where that leaves me: I do categorise and label things but I seem nigh on incapable of making categories that others can see but make perfect sense to me. Things collide in my head in odd ways. It took me some years to understand that. And it’s okay, it works for me. Well, apart from the tendency for other people to look at me with arched eyebrows and narrowed eyes.

Example: somehow Chaucer’s Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale and Maurer’s The Big Con collided in my head and so I’ll be giving a paper at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds next summer on alchemy called ‘Chaucer and the Art of the Grift’ which should be fun.

Here’s the precis:

‘Of all the grifters, the confidence man is the aristocrat’, David Maurer wrote in his linguistic study _The Big Con_. Chaucer’s _Canon’s Yeoman’s  Tale_ offers a narrative of crime. As in his fabliaux there’s a delight in the spinning of the yarn even  while he deplores the deception. Nonetheless, I will argue that Chaucer reveals a grifter’s appreciation for the aristocratic con because he recognises it shares the same engine as his poetry: the power of a good story.

Am I having fun researching into the world of grifters and con artists? Yes, I am. I’ve always had a fascination with that art, probably at least since my brothers and I saw Harry in Your Pocket and spent the next few weeks perfecting our technique (only on each other, I should clarify). Of course there’s also the glory of The Sting, which sprang from Maurer’s study directly. Just something in the air in 1973, eh? It was the year that Watergate broke (though it took much longer to unravel…)