Approaching Deadline!

February brings with it the beginning of conference season for many of us, me included. 2017 has some new opportunities which need to be shared.

If you are involved with public archaeology in any way there is the First Public Archaeology Twitter Conference being organized by Dr Lorna Richardson. I’m assisting with some of that process. The call for paper deadline is February 10th. You can find the link for that here. Even if you don’t present you will still be able to follow along online. I’m quite excited as this will be the first time I’m working on a project like this remotely.

ACMRS 2017 Preparations

Currently I’m getting my materials ready for the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Annual Conference. I’m really excited for that for a couple of reasons. ACMRS is publishing the Viking Coloring Book as an Occasional Paper. This is the first time since making an announcement about that at Viking World 2016 in Nottingham this past summer that I’ll be with other medievalists in person as well as the first medievalist event since I submitted the VCB illustrations. I even get to bring the Pop-up Gallery with me to display in the book room. I’ve made coloring page context handouts for my talk so I don’t flounder trying to give too much information at once. Friends I made at Viking World 2016 have beta-tested the handouts with good results. For once I am sitting less than a week out from a talk and don’t need antacids [they’re packed though, just in case]. I’m finishing my PowerPoint slides today. For the first time since graduate school I’ll be chairing a session. Now if I can just beat this blasted head cold before the road trip south to Scottsdale I’ll be set.

In March is the UC Berkeley Graduate Symposium. I’m not speaking this year but I am hoping work will not call me in so I can attend. April the First Public Archaeology Twitter Conference occurs online, as I’ve posted about previously. In May I’ll be speaking about the Viking Coloring Book Project at Kalamazoo [International Medievalist Congress]. All exciting stuff! Time to finish the last details.

Being an International Student

A free morning leaves me able to make the explanatory post for yesterday’s image. Long time followers of this blog have probably noticed I do not comment upon politics very often. There are a variety of reasons for this. Recent political machinations being made by those in control of the US Executive Branch of government mean that I’m breaking a very painful silence, one I do in the hopes that in some small way it will help prepare people. I’ll stress now that these views, like all statements on this blog, are ultimately my opinion, but one based in a very real series of experiences. First a bit of context for those who have only met me online.

I left UC Berkeley in 2004, after receiving my BA in Anthropology. I wanted to become a medieval archaeologist specializing in the Viking world. I had 2 years of translation experience with Old Norse and unsuccessfully tried to apply to programs in the US that would allow me to combine translation work with archaeology with a medieval topic. After a few years of trying I looked abroad, ending up at a British institution for my MA in Medieval Archaeology in 2006. I continued, beginning my doctoral studies in 2007. I was introduced to like-minded medievalists, organized an international conference, began to speak at other conferences. In short a fairly typical graduate school experience.

One which ended in 2010. I had just been accepted to two prestigious conferences back in the US. My student visa, already extended once without issue when I transitioned from the MA to PhD program was due for renewal. I was part way through my third year of data collection, working part time as a student support worker to help pay the bills not covered by my student loan payouts. Again, for many this is a typical grad school experience. My passport and my husband’s were sent off receive the new visa paper with current stamps, we went to have our biometrics collected. During processing the UK legislation changed with regards to the Immigration Tier system and the material was considered under the new parameters. Our visas, in spite of being submitted legally with the requirements necessary at the time of submission, were now no longer valid. We were no longer Tier 4 student and dependent, we were reclassified as Tier 1 refugee asylum seekers. I learned this fact in a letter telling me I had 7 days to leave the UK or be forcefully deported. Our passports were held and not immediately returned.

That’s right- if you think you don’t actually know someone who has faced deportation, you do. Me. If you happen to know my husband you know at least two.

This began a cycle of appeal paperwork and ultimately two Immigration Tribunal hearings, all of which occurred while I had to maintain full time student status so my student loans would not go into collections and exacerbate the distressful situation further. After the first Tribunal hearing I received another immediate deportion letter. I changed advisors part-way through, ending up with one who attended the court hearings, made certain that I had no restrictions to materials as best he could, who passed on my promise to contact the Associated Press and a hungry young lawyer fresh out of Boalt School of Law if I was deported to the various portions of uni who were slow in responding to requests of assistance. My household made just enough money to not qualify for free legal advice. The US Embassy refused to talk to me when I approached them. That’s the official side of things.

The impact of this is a bit hard for me to quantify. Ultimately, the focus of my research- largely culture contact in the north Atlantic- expanded to what I study now- medieval identity development. As it was hard to hide the continual worry many of my fellow grad students in department had no clue how to talk to me. I developed two stomach ulcers, began to suffer from depression that impacted diet, sleep, my ability to interact normally with my peers. I no longer had dreams- literally. As time in a series of catch 22s progressed, I watched my hard won grad school experiences and networks begin to break down. If I stopped my regular student routine during the day for a reason that left me free for more than an hour I would race my bike back to my flat to sit on my floor with my guinea pig crying so I that I wouldn’t make my fellow students and those I worked for upset by seeing me that way.

As time passed the need for a trip back to the US was becoming increasingly necessary as medical situations arose in my family. The urge to just give up grew daily, particularly as people began to look at my case, giving me the sad smile and head shake that meant they had been told the only result would be deportation and they didn’t have the heart to say the words.

Here is where I discovered a saving grace- I happen to study a region also covered by some very strong female researchers with very understanding ¬†grad students. When it felt like the real world was going to hell in a proverbial hand basket and the cosmic kick-me sign was firmly on my back, my fellow Viking specialists made certain I was included. Made certain even if I didn’t feel up to going that I still knew I was invited. Held mini-trips to the sites I could still go to in country without a passport. Were able to discuss medieval texts and approaches in such an engaging manner it was possible for short stretches to remember why I had come abroad for graduate school in the first place. Even now I consider them to be some of my closer friends.

They don’t realize it [I guess the cat is out of the bag on that now] but they gave me hope when I was unable to create it for myself. Hope in humanity, hope that even if I was ultimately deported I would not slip away into the darkness, forgotten, just another bit of leftover flotsam from an attempt at grad school. Hope that my ever-present imposter syndrome was not correct- that my ideas in research, in spite of being produced under duress, were still sound, were interesting even.

Ultimately my husband and I won our appeal in the second Immigration Tribunal after 45 minutes of deliberation, the Tribunal Judge verbally chastising the Home Office lawyer and my not really registering that I wasn’t going to be deported until I was walking out of the court room to see my advisor waiting in the waiting room. EU Human Rights law and a Tribunal judge who recognized the situation was wrong won out. We still ended up having to wait months to receive all paperwork to be able to travel internationally again. I’m part of a select group of people who have felt it necessary to thank an Immigration Tribunal Judge in their doctoral thesis acknowledgements when the time actually came though.

Part of how I’ve been able to reconcile the fact that all of this occurred with my day-to-day is to do what I can to make certain that other students would never have to feel that draining tornado of immigration fear while trying to improve their lives with education. I’d hoped to eventually teach at uni level to be in a position to help- to be the one provided the hope to those who were unable to make it for themselves. I am no longer certain I’ll ever be able to get to that stage- in an era where the alt-right have made moves on my beloved early medieval world once more independent scholars like me trying to break into US academia is increasingly difficult. Creating the Viking Coloring Book Project has allowed me to not feel that hurt quite so keenly. With it I can at least battle stereotypes about Vikings while getting kids interested in the real medieval world. When I fly internationally I still have to bring the court decision with me just in case.

If you are a grad student being impacted by immigration bans here is my advice to reduce some of the extended hurt and despair current events are bringing.

Talk– get the word out about what is happening. Document it with dates- you may need it to prove the impact all this is having. If you regularly journal online, or by hand, make certain to include how things are impacting you. You can use this to make slow universities and departments respond in a more timely fashion. Reach out- people can only help if they know there is a problem that needs solving.

Reinforce your network– do not listen to that inside voice that given time will tell you that you have no right to talk to your peers. Develop your village as they will sustain you when you feel inadequate. Sometimes that means just refocusing your eyes to see they are there waiting to help you.

Remember what drove you to undertake grad school in the first place. Don’t let the bullshit of immigration negotiations take that away from you. It will sustain you when the world seems the darkest.

The Executive Branch declarations do not represent the feelings of a great many Americans. Our protests, donations, online discussions all reflect this. One of the things I fought the hardest with during 2010 was to separate the anger I felt over immigration to being able to deal with people in the day to day. To not blame individual people for a system-wide problem.

If you are a grad level mentor, instructor, professor adjunct- in short anybody with students who are affected by these current events my advice is this.

Talk– even if you don’t really have much advice beyond being a sympathetic ear that is incredibly important. Doing that will help to remind your students that they are still worthy of listening to [and yes that can be a concern]. It might also you to think of other ways to help.

Create opportunities that still foster grad-level network interactions. Have your lunchtime lectures or course field trips been relevant to this situation? Do your impacted students attend? If they do not, politely, ask why. If they do feel up to it make sure they still know they are invited.

Be their champion even if the situation is not easily resolved. When you undergo immigration issues as a grad student you are torn between trying to be an adult and not needing help and being in a situation where essentially you are out of your depth [unless you are doing a program in international immigration law]. Many advisors do not need this reminder- you already are doing this to the best of your ability. My own advisor is an excellent example of this. Even though his efforts didn’t always connect to a resolution he kept trying and that, in its own way, reminded me that I shouldn’t give up either.

Imposter Syndrome will occur in your student(s), even if they were not prone to it before. From the student point of view the universe has basically decided that they don’t get to play in the game of life when they worked awful damn hard for opportunity. Do what you can to remind them they are worthy of the education they are trying to earn in spite of current events. Don’t be silly about it and don’t ignore the problem. The post-grad school mental health of your advisees may rest on it.

 

I think that’s probably enough for now. Well, other than this. An alternate name for the Statue of Liberty is “Mother of Exiles”, shining her torch as a beacon to those in need. Although the Executive Branch is currently doing everything possible to blow that great flame out all it takes are the hopes and ideals resting in people coming together to relight it. Stand. We are all human.

horrified-liberty-complete-scene

I wish I could say that I could make everything better, having been chewed up by this system myself. I won’t lie, I can’t. But I can, and hopefully have, given a few more people the information they need to keep students from experiencing the pain and despair I did.

Most Recent Watercolor

In light of recent current events I’ve created this piece. I’ll be explaining why in tomorrow’s blog post. In the meantime stay safe. Please credit me if you share the image.

Horrified Liberty- complete scene.jpg

Free January Download

Happy New Year!

2016 was a very busy year- one where I got to meet a fantastic, and growing, amount of people.

In honor of the first anniversary of the Viking Coloring Book campaign going live on Kickstarter the January calendar download is available for free here.

Free Holiday Coloring Page Download from the VCB Project

I hope everyone has been enjoying their holidays so far. Mine have been quiet but good. I’ve gotten new paints and inks so look forward to some new paintings now that I’ve gotten the official coloring book illustrations off to the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies for proper publication. As always I’ll have progress shots up on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

There is a free coloring page for you to enjoy your new coloring tools on here.

The Viking Coloring Book Annual Report 2016

For those who have been following the progress of the Viking Coloring Book Project please find the 2016 Annual Report here. Many thanks for all of your interest and help in spreading the word about the Viking Coloring Book Project. I have been trying to update a few things on my social media accounts- please don’t hesitate to check through here and see what is new!

If you don’t feel like downloading the full pdf the text is provided below.

The Viking Coloring Book Project at a Glance

Creator: Dr Dayanna Knight

Crowd-sourced on Kickstarter.com, with campaign being live from January 6- February 5, 2016.

Number of Countries reached by the campaign: 35

Number of Online Backers: 117

Number of Offline Backers: 4

Total Raised: $6,470 USD

Publisher found: The Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Viking Coloring Book scenes submitted to ACMRS: 75

Viking Coloring Book motifs created in 2016: 277

Top Reward Levels:

 

Level Number of Backers Amount Raised
$25 77 $2480
$500 3 $1535
$100 14 $1520

Creator Letter

Dear Fellow Viking Enthusiast,

2016 has been a very busy one for the Viking Coloring Book Project. In January the Viking Coloring Book Campaign was live on Kickstarter, raising funds to promote a more historically accurate coloring book option to the general public. Equipment was purchased. More than 250 motifs were drawn and scanned to produce 75 full page scenes. A noted academic publisher specializing in medieval topics, the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, has agreed to publish these.

Initiatives for 2016

The Viking Coloring Book Project functions on the idea that people are interested in the early medieval world, but may not have easy access to it. By creating a well-informed yet still visually pleasing series of scenes linked to the Viking World more people will be curious about what Vikings were beyond the stereotypes of popular culture. In order to do this a series of steps were undertaken following the Kickstarter campaign.

  • Equipment needed to be purchased. A table top drafting table was acquired to quickly produce motifs on. Multiple lamps were also purchased to this effect. An all-in-one home office scanner printer was acquired so that scenes as large as A3/ 11×17″ could be scanned in without distortion.
  • A subscription to Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator was purchased. This assisted tremendously during scene production.
  • Kickstarter campaign information and a sample portfolio were shown to staff at ACMRS immediately after the end of the campaign.
  • Motifs and sample pages were beta-tested with elementary school classes. Concepts were streamlined in format until the cultural questions desired were heard during coloring sessions.
  • A social media campaign of progress updates and general Viking Coloring Book marketing was begun in earnest. Currently there is a VCB presence on 6 platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, WordPress, and Kickstarter. This was continued at conferences in person.
  • Research opportunities were taken as presented.

Improving Consistency

Three purchases in particular have assisted with consistency of motif creation. These were a major contributing factor as to why the Kickstarter campaign was run.

  • Koh-i-Noor Rapidograph pens
  • Epson Workforce All-in-One scanner printer
  • Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator subscription

Looking to the Future

2017 will see the publication of the Viking Coloring Book as an Occasional Paper by the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. The VCB Project intends on moving forward to continue to create coloring scenes showing the early medieval world of the Vikings. Research for a second more specifically themed Viking Coloring Book has already begun.

In order to grow local communities of Viking enthusiasts a series of events linked to the Viking Coloring Book have been designed. These range from school fundraisers, where children will have a place to promote their medieval interests to coloring evenings where adults will have access to the illustrator to ask questions about the scenes while they work. Efforts to promote this will begin in January 2017.

An article about the process of creating the VCB is currently being written for the Journal of Community Archaeology and Heritage. The Viking Coloring Book Project will also be represented at the International Medieval Congress 2017 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, during a CARA sponsored panel on working outside academia.

2017 will bring further outreach and research into the early medieval world of the Vikings. This has been possible only through the generosity of the Viking Coloring Book campaign backers and those who donated their time, if not their money. The public has a desire to learn and I can but do my best to draw the images to fan those flames of curiosity.

Sincerely,

Dr Dayanna Knight

Creator of the Viking Coloring Book Project

Insights into Outreach

Online References Platform Site Number of Views Amount Derived From
  Kickstarter Kickstarter 29 $1190
    Facebook 38 $2010
    Medievalists.net 17 $740
    LinkedIn 1 $510
    Twitter 5 $230
    t.umblr.com 2 $70
    Goggle.co.uk 1 $40
    Google.com 2 $40
    Direct traffic 18 $670
  WordPress Medievalists.net 245  
    Twitter 157  
    Facebook 147  
    Kickstarter 85  
    Kickstarter Project Page 63  
    Vikingsbooksetc.wordpress.com 10  
    Norseandviking.blogspot.com 2  
    Norseandviking.blogspot.co.uk 2  
    WordPress.com Reader 4  
    Newsblur.com/site/6185503/viking-specialist-at-large 2  
Total WordPress Numbers [as of 12/21/2016] 2379 Views 1274 Visitors 35 Countries Represented  
         

New Product Innovation

2016 saw the creation and initial production of the Viking Coloring Book. More than 50 paintings have resulted from this.

2017 will see an increase in Viking Coloring Book related events. It will also see the initial stages of research for the next coloring book in the series.

Timeline

Year Specific Date Description
2015 May 27 Promotional push for first beta-test begun on social media.
  July 23 Beta-test conducted in the form of general lecture with a question and answer session to determine general public interest into the topic of Vikings.
  August Promotional push for second beta-test begun on social media.
  September 27 Beta-test conducted in the form of family activity day and medieval game tournament to determine general public interest into the topic of Vikings.
  December Preparation for the Viking Coloring Book campaign going live on Kickstarter begins.
2016 January 6 Kickstarter campaign for the Viking Coloring Book goes live. Ends on $550 first day.
  January 7 Campaigns starts day at $1000. Good Day Sacramento contacted.
  January 9 Kickstarter campaign reached initial goal of $3000.
  January 17 Appeared on Good Day Sacramento promoting the Viking Coloring Book Project.
  February 5 Kickstarter campaign ended at $6120 being donated by online backers.
  February 6 The Viking Coloring Book is soft-pitched to the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies staff.
  February 20 Kickstarter campaign payout received
  March Equipment purchases made. Production of medieval motifs begins immediately.
  June 27- July 2 Represented the Viking Coloring Book Project at the Viking World Conference at the University of Nottingham. Also conducted research while local to UK libraries.
  September 24 First Viking Coloring Book Pop-up Gallery held at SON Viking Snack Fest event in Salida, California.
  October 1 Book signing for Viking Nations at Barnes and Noble Stockton. Marketing promotional coloring page created for this event.
  October 10 First Viking Coloring Book Pop-up Gallery solo show held at Lincoln Center, Stockton, California. Event held as part of Stockton Arts Week.
  November 5 Poster presentation at the California Librarians Association Conference in Sacramento, California.
  November 19 Viking Coloring Book Pop-up Gallery held at SON Viking Fest event in Salida, California.
  December 3 Viking Coloring Book Pop-up Gallery appeared at the Holiday Art Sale at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts.

 

Goals for 2017

  • To see the Viking Coloring Book on store shelves.
  • To send out Kickstarter Backer Reward packs once the VCB is published.
  • To increase amount of coloring events, activities and fundraisers available to the public.
  • To represent the Viking Coloring Book at the California State Fair Author Tent.
  • To begin research and motif compilation for future publications from the Viking Coloring Book Project.