I’ve just returned from the Viking World Conference at the University of Nottingham. This was a very intensive 6 days of all things Viking and early medieval Scandinavian and was absolutely fantastic. I’d originally intended to do daily posts about this but the cruel hand of argumentative internet logins made it a bit difficult at first. I did fill 2 notebooks with notes about the sessions, though, so I’ll go over that here in a bit.
First there are some thank you’s due to those who particularly made the trip possible. Sera and Derek kindly put up with me for the majority of my time in the UK and made certain that everything ran smoothly so I could focus on the conference as much as possible. It means a lot but we discussed that before I left so I’ll save the typing here. My friend Matt [who I met once upon a time at the beginning of his BA course] too provided housing and the rare opportunity to hang out. You guys are awesome. Katie Eaton at Pen and Swords and Rebecca Peck at the University of Nottingham’s School of English made certain things went smoothly for providing books.
So- this conference. Reader, its hard to articulate how much fun I had. Timing wise it was four years not quite to the day that I had left the University of Nottingham, where I attended graduate school. I was approached about a logo some months ago and it was really great to see it all over campus. These were long days and jam-packed with making new friends, hearing the latest research and in general taking the conference concept to its utmost extent. The live tweeting has been put into Storify by Dr Judith Jesch and can be found here. If you would like to see the line up the schedule we were following can be found here. Message me if you would like to see my thoughts/notes on specific presentations.
Day 1 The themes covered during Day 1 ranged from Exploration and Advancement, Life and Death, Language Contacts, to Art and Visual Narratives by the end of the day. All the papers were thought provoking in the way that makes for excellent conversation over a good dinner. It’s exactly what I had been missing since returning to California as I not currently in an academic department. What surprised me the most was everyone’s enthusiasm over my Viking Coloring Book Project. It keeps leading my to fun opportunities.
Day 2 Today’s themes began with Viking Law and Rule, moving into Names and Identities and then my session of Land and Sea before Parents and Poetry and finally Burying the Past. Of particular interest to me was Eldar Heide’s presentation on medieval Norse directional names as it is something closely related to my own identity work. Then came my session. I quite enjoyed hearing Val Dufeu speak about fishing sites in Iceland. I was the other speaker in the session and am admittedly always a ball of nerves when public speaking to those outside of a classroom. I didn’t embarrass myself by being ill though so I’ll count that as a tentative win. I got to end things on a high by FINALLY being able to announce the publisher for the Viking Coloring Book. Check out the details on the campaign page here. Once the session was over I got to focus on the rest of the conference more fully.
Day 3 Day 3 began with sessions on Sagas and Mythology as well as Conversion and Kingship. This was a short presentation day to accommodate an excursion to Lincoln. I stayed in Nottingham to have the chance for a pint of scrumpy cider and to see a friend’s band play as I’d not had the opportunity for 4 years.
Day 4 Day 4 session themes began with Cult and Burial, Austrvegr [Eastern Way], Monuments and Memory, Trade Routes of the Viking Age, Carved in Stone, and Disease and Diaspora. Discussions ranged from Cnut to Byzantium and the breadth of medieval culture. These days were long but so incredibly interesting you didn’t realize the length until you fell into bed each night.
Day 5 Day 5 sessions included Contacts and Continuity, Baltic and Beyond, Progression of Resource, and ending with Trade and Traditions. Topics included Runes, onomastic studies, early medieval Poland, and Gotlandic hoards. The day ended with a presentation by Gareth Williams of the British Museum before we broke for our very nice dinner. After that came the conference dance where many of us partied like it was 999.
Day 6 Day 6 session themes ranged from Power and Succession, the Vikings in Ireland and Beyond, Studying the Vikings, ending with Between Myth and Reality. Presentations were strong throughout. The conference ended with well-wishes and general exhaustion/ over-mental stimulation. Picture a small child at the end of their first trip to Disneyland after leaving toddler-hood. Its rather like that.
Many exciting Viking projects are occurring right now. I’ve listed some here in case you are interested.
Blueaxe Reproductions Adam can sort out your need for accurate shinies amongst other things. www.blueaxereproductions.com .
The World-Tree Project My friend Ruarigh, who I met during grad school, is involved in with this fantastic new digital archive. www.worldtreeproject.org .
Several of us are on Instagram and still using #vikingworld16 to tag our photos if you’d like to see that.
My trip, of course, was longer than just the conference. I had some meeting son campus and other more official business I had to take care of with the University while I was local. I got to drop in and say hello with former co-workers. I headed to Norwich and my good friend Matt on the 5th of July, spending the 6th being a medievalist on tour before heading to the airport and eventually California.
Jetlag hit like a ton of bricks and now here I am getting caught up. More to come on new projects in the near future.
May was a roller-coaster of life extremes, faithful Reader, and through it all I was cramming all of the substitute hours I could in as I don’t get work from that particular role again until August. This week is the last of that, thankfully, so I can fully devote my efforts to the other projects I have.
I have been prepping for an upcoming conference- Viking World– hosted by the university I attended for graduate school, the University of Nottingham. Overall I’m very excited about this prospect- I’ll get the chance to see a lot of people in my field I haven’t had the chance to see since I left the UK in 2012. In many ways, though, this is going to be outside of my comfort zone. I may end up discussing that further in a later post- we’ll see. Thanks to the Centre for the Studies of the Viking Age I’m getting the opportunity to display both books and art as well as formally present my research. Because of this there has been a flurry of planning, printing and organization. I am hoping to provide a synopsis of what is presented here. I’m also hoping to live tweet as well on Twitter.
I’ve also been discussing a book event more local to northern California. Currently the book store would like this to be August or September. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than as late as that, but we’ll see. I can be pretty persuasive sometimes.
Finally, and pardon for the cross-posting but I’m really excited to tell everyone about my friends’ project. As I know many of you are interested in Viking-related education I thought I’d take the time to tell you about a very cool digital archive for all things Viking- the World Tree Project based at University College Cork in Ireland. They could use some help, my friends, as they have only recently gone live online and this is the type of project that everyone can help to make better no matter what part of the world they are in. The World Tree Project wants to see YOUR Viking-related finds, local businesses, photos of your Viking re-enactments, and the teaching tools you’ve found or made to help spread knowledge about the Vikings and their world. This is a great opportunity to interact with an ever-growing body of material. Explore the digital archive that is the World Tree Project and get involved if you haven’t already.
Its been a month of extremes, Reader. A publisher found and the first coverage of my first book’s release- happy, if wicked busy, times. Amidst this though, and just as I was reaching stride production-wise, tragedy. One of my close friends- one of the people Viking Nations is actually dedicated to- was killed in a horrific car accident at the beginning of this week.
I’ll put the words down here for now, I guess. The only real comparison for the feeling I have is its very similar to the childhood riding accident that led to my diagnosis with TMJ. Things were going well and then all of a sudden I was on the ground, landing on my shoulder and neck and the wind knocked out of me. I don’t actually remember a few days because of concussion related to that but up to the point where I left the saddle I remember quite clearly. I apparently was coherent during the time I don’t recall.
Realizing my friend was gone was a little like that. That same feeling the ground has fallen away but is approaching so fast, with the knowledge that it will be bringing pain with it.
Needless to say, its been very difficult to focus lately. My one-woman illustration operation is slowly getting back together. I’d had a whole stack of happy worded emails ready to type up the morning I got the call.
Although an incredibly shit situation, the out pouring of love, support and people to come together for basically the week-long wake we’ve had thus far for Dave would have made him cry. I keep looking for him to show up. Late of course. I’m probably not the only one that feels that way.
My Isle of Misfit Toys has lost a few untimely. Dave’s best friend was one of these. This is a sketch I did for a requested memorial portrait of the boys. Its one of the hardest works I’ve done, but its of the two kindest people I’ve ever had the honor of knowing. On the left is Brandon Rodgers [who was actually taller but was being silly at the time]. On the right is my friend David Phillips. They were both great guys.
The completed piece is up in a friend’s house currently.
The Viking Coloring Book Project has found its publisher folks. I’m still negotiating details on this so I’m holding on- well basically from holding a parade. But soon I can tell everyone and then we can all party like its 999!
Beg pardon for being quiet, faithful Reader, but I have been very busy with moving forward on the Viking Coloring Book. And a bit of adulting, to be fair, as I am still employed as a substitute teacher and still have bills to pay. Lots to update though so I’d best get to it.
My first book, Viking Nations, is now available in the UK. If you’re in the US and would like a copy of the text it is available directly through Pen & Sword here. It feels a bit surreal after grad school. I’ll probably write more on that in the future, but let that suffice for now. Viking Nations will be available in the US in May. I finally received my author’s copies- all that work looks really good in hardcover.
My successful Kickstarter campaign has provided the equipment I needed pretty desperately. Oh the joys of a large bed scanner/printer when you work on paper larger than letter! I’m finishing the last of the goods to necessary make my first rewards mailing this weekend. The last time my apartment was this full of Viking related items was just before I held the hnefatafl tournament and shield decoration day last September. Many thanks to my friends who have been helping me find the best deals for my equipment- it means a lot. Even more thanks to you folks for believing in the Viking Coloring Book project. I keep trying to write an appropriate thank you letter and not having it come out right. I mean, how do you thank an entire field who came together behind your idea? I mean I study people who came together in the past- Vikings in particular. I find it endlessly fascinating. To study it properly I moved across half the planet for years. Most people don’t necessarily feel that way though. But this- the grandness of getting to produce a coloring book aside- the coming together behind an idea to further knowledge makes this Berkeley alum pretty proud to be a medievalist. Cheers folks.
In other news, one of my designs has also been released as the logo for the 2016 Viking World Conference at the University of Nottingham. I’m excited as not only is it going to be a great conference but I’m also do to present as well on my research into medieval identity in the North Atlantic. I haven’t had the opportunity to go back to Nottingham since having to return to the US and it will be very good to see everyone. More on that in the future as I’m still in the planning stages on the trip. I wonder if any of my UK friends would be willing to give me couch space in exchange for archaeological illustration?
If you’re interested the link for the conference itself that is here.
For the rest of the weekend though, I’ve got some work to do. Social media too- I apologize if you end up in the cross-fire on that.
If you hadn’t heard yet, faithful Reader, my Kickstarter campaign not only met its goal but actually doubled it. I wasn’t quite certain before this that people other than me wanted to have a more historically accurate coloring option for the early Medieval period but trust me folks I understand that now. In light of that, and some other information in general to get out, this will be a bit of a ramble-y post.
Business first. I held a giveaway linked to the Coloring Book campaign over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that ended a few days ago. I used a random number generator and have two people selected from those who entered- from Facebook Teresa Allbaugh, and from Instagram @thegypsyviking . I’ll be posting the announcement on all platforms shortly.
I recently attended and presented at the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies annual conference. I have to admit folks, with a book on the way and a successful medieval themed coloring book campaign this was one of the funnest weekends I’ve had in a while. As always the papers and company were top-notch. There is nothing quite as fun as hanging out with a group of people who understand your textual and cultural references without explanation.
The Viking Coloring Book campaign has been successful thanks to a lot of people. So much so I’m more than a bit humbled, and proud, that everyone has been so supportive about a coloring idea related to the Vikings. I’ve been able to network with people I never thought I would have the chance to in relation to my research. Viking and medieval studies is a lovely diverse tapestry of people from literally all over the planet and I’m very glad to be the artistic hands for it for a time. To those who helped to spread the word about the campaign by liking and/or sharing posts on all platforms: Thank you. To my backers: Thank you doesn’t even cover it. You’ve made it possible for me to do the work I like to do the best in the world for a time. To those 3 backers who donated at the $500 level- you’ve given me the great gift of support and well more than I ever thought I would get at that.
The Viking Coloring Book has seen media coverage- Good Day Sacramento- but saw lots more coverage from social media. Medievalists.net helped in no small amount in this and once the article went out #medievaltwitter responded far and wide by liking, retweeting and offering help where possible. A part of what I discuss in my first book, and my doctoral thesis, is how North Atlantic medieval trading groups pooled and negotiated their resources to act on the more international stage. To have such a similar experience, albeit mediated by modern social media… the whole concept can rob one of words. Thank you all. You’ve been amazing- true examples of how supportive our field can be at its best.
Humor me in a brief story, Reader. I promise it won’t be too long. You may wonder why I respond so. Let me go back to the beginning. Several of my earliest degrees came from a community college. I stand in a small minority as a cc graduate that not only completed a Bachelor’s but kept going to move abroad for international postgraduate degrees that allowed me the opportunity to work with some of the most respected in my field at the University of Nottingham. And now I’m going to make a Viking themed coloring book. And it will be my second book. All this too, Reader, can rob one of words.
As if this weren’t enough excitement I received notification my first book, Viking Nations, is now available through my publisher, Pen and Sword. Here is the link. Getting that email just before leaving to substitute teach all day was rather difficult. The kids enjoyed hearing about it though.
If you haven’t had the chance to follow the Kickstarter campaign for a historically accurate Viking Coloring Book you be happy to here that it is going very well. Many thanks to those reading this who have been able to help out.
In honor of this I thought I would hold an art give away to help get the word out in the last week of the campaign being live. Two people will be drawn at random from those who share this post helping to spread the word about the Viking Coloring Book campaign. You do not have to be a Kickstarter backer to be eligible.
So- what do you win if you are one of those two lucky people? A piece of painted original art based on one of the motifs from the Coloring Book on 11″x 17″ [A3 size] vellum surfaced Bristol Board as well as a set of 10 Viking themed blank greeting cards.
Good Luck! Thank you for helping to spread the word about the Viking Coloring Book!