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ISAS 2011: Madison, Wisconsin


The fifteenth biennial meeting of the Society took place from July 31 to August 5 at the main campus of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. The conference theme, "The Anglo-Saxons and the Visual Imagination," encouraged the presentation of papers addressing the intersection of Anglo-Saxon studies, visual studies, and the material world. Featured were three keynote lectures, thirty-nine regular papers, and two project reports. Approximately 120 persons registered for the conference, 75 of them dues-paying members of the Society.

Keynote lectures were given by Michelle P. Brown (on art history), Anna Gannon (on numismatics), and Leslie Webster (on archaeology). Papers were given by Mary Blanchard, Herbert Broderick, Paul Cavill, Peter Darby, Craig Davis, Nicole Guenther Discenza, Helen Foxhall Forbes, Martin Foys, Jay Gates, Thomas Hall, Carole Hough, Matthew Hussey, Christopher A. Jones, Alice Jorgensen, Eileen Joy, Catherine Karkov, Johanna Kramer, Leslie Lockett, Rosalind Love, Kathryn Lowe, Colin Mackenzie, Nicole Marafioti, Nathan Mertes, Allesandra Molinari, Rory Naismith, Brian O'Camb, Karin Olsen, Mo Pareles, Carol Braun Pasternack, Andrew Rabin, Daniel C. Remein, Mercedes Salvador Bello, Margaret Scott, Annina Seiler, Philip Shaw, Peter Stokes, and Robert Upchurch. Project reports were given on "The Lexis of Cloth and Clothing Project" (by Gale Owen-Crocker and Mark Zumbuhl) and on "The Revision of Laistner-King, A Handlist of Bede Manuscripts" (by George Hardin Brown and Joshua A. Westgard). Special optional lunch-time programs were offered on Tuesday on "Beowulf as Radio Drama" (by UW Emeritus Professor Dick Ringler and Norman Gilliland, of Wisconsin Public Radio) and on Thursday on "Thought-Processes Underlying Anglo-Saxon Art and Architecture" (by Carol Neuman de Vegvar).

The conference was preceded by a two-day workshop on "Making — and Theorizing — the Early Medieval Book," co-directed by Michelle P. Brown and Jonathan Wilcox with the assistance of Cheryl Jacobsen, a professional scribe. Fifteen graduate students and one recent PhD took part in this hands-on introduction to the world of medieval manuscript makers. Each participant produced a facsimile of an Anglo-Saxon manuscript page using parchment, quill pen, and ink. At a subsequent conference poster session, each then briefly told how that page connected to his or her individual doctoral research. The sixteen facsimiles were put on display at a wine-and-cheese reception held in the lakeside Alumni Lounge of the Pyle Center. Taking part in this workshop were graduate students from universities in England, Scotland, Spain, Hungary, and Canada, as well as from seven different universities in the USA.

The conference itself began with a reception on the rooftop terrace of the Pyle Center, the UW conference center where all regular sessions were held. Professor Magdalena Hauner, the Associate Dean of Humanities, welcomed delegates on behalf of the College of Letters and Science, while Karl Shoemaker, Professor of History, welcomed the group as Chair of the Medieval Studies Program. Two full days of sessions were followed by a choice of excursions to the area of Spring Green, an hour's drive west of campus. While some delegates enjoyed an extended tour of Taliesin (the former home and studio of architect Frank Lloyd Wright), others opted for a tour that encompassed Little Norway, a former Norwegian-American homestead that is now an open-air museum, as well as the House on the Rock, a unique building crammed with Americana of all sorts. The two tour groups converged at the Wisconsin Riverside Resort, where delegates enjoyed a chance to swim, sunbathe, or rent kayaks or canoes. Dinner took place in the small town of Mazomanie at a restaurant featuring Wisconsin cuisine. Two more full days of sessions concluded with a General Membership Meeting presided over by John Niles. Here Julia Crick announced the winners of the biennial ISAS publication prizes. A reception and banquet in the University Club, with music provided by "The Snug" (a local group specializing in traditional Irish music), concluded the conference.

While most participants made their way home the next day, a small group of delegates took part in a two-day post-conference excursion to the cities of Chicago and Milwaukee. Highlights of this trip included a visit to the Chicago Art Institute; a riverboat architectural tour of the downtown area of Chicago; walks through Millennium Park, with its noteworthy sculptures and views, and up Michigan Avenue, with its stylish businesses and street side art; a visit to an intimate late-night blues club in North Chicago featuring local blues masters; and a visit to the Milwaukee Art Museum, timed to coincide with the folding in of the building's remarkable white "wings" for the night. The post-conference excursion, like the midweek excursions to Spring Green, reinforced the conference's theme of the visual imagination while introducing delegates to the cultural heritage and the vibrant artistic scene of the Upper Midwest region of the USA.

The Advisory Board and the officers of ISAS met four times during the week to consider the Society's business in sessions ably presided over by Executive Director Stacy Klein. Mary Clayton was welcomed as incoming President, succeeding John Niles at the end of the calendar year. Carole Hough was welcomed as incoming First Vice President. Martin Foys was elected the new Executive Director, succeeding Stacy Klein. Julia Crick was thanked for having served as interim Second Vice President, taking the place of Mary Swan. Susan Irvine was elected the new Second Vice President. Honorary memberships were awarded to George Clark, Patrick Conner, Mechthild Gretsch, Hugh Magennis, Audrey Meaney, Geoffrey Russom, Hans Sauer, and Paul Szarmach. Motions were approved to award ISAS "undistributed income" for the next two-year cycle to the Dictionary of Old English and to the Lynne Grundy Memorial Fund, while a one-time award of $100 was approved in support of a campaign to purchase a unique Anglo-Saxon MS for the British Library. John Niles, Stacy Klein, and Jonathan Wilcox volunteered to co-edit a volume of papers, sponsored by ISAS, on the conference theme of Anglo-Saxon England and the Visual Imagination. Members of the Board expressed their eagerness to attend the 2013 conference, which will be held in Dublin, hosted by Mary Clayton. Glasgow was chosen as the venue for the conference that will take place in 2015, hosted by Carole Hough.

Throughout the week, a special exhibit on "Reflections of Anglo-Saxon England" was available for viewing in the Department of Special Collections in Memorial Library, where a reception for delegates was held on July 31 featuring Wisconsin sausages and brews. Adding to the conviviality were two optional evening social events. On August 2, several dozen delegates attended a dinner commemorating the release of a festschrift honoring UW–Madison Emeritus Professor A.N. Doane, while on August 4, about fifty delegates enjoyed a pizza-and-beer dinner party celebrating the joint birthday of ISAS President John Niles and USA President Barack Obama. (Regretfully, Barack and Michelle Obama did not attend.)

The complete conference program is available on the web (http://conferencing.uwex.edu/conferences/isas2011/documents/ISAS_2011_final_for_web.pdf), as is a set of abstracts (http://conferencing.uwex.edu/conferences/isas2011/abstracts.cfm). Also posted on the web is a gallery of photos (http://conferencing.uwex.edu/conferences/isas2011/ConferencePhotos.cfm) taken during the conference and at conference-related activities, including the pre-conference workshop and the excursions. A selection of images from the exhibit "Reflections of Anglo-Saxon England" is available for viewing via the home page of the Department of Special Collections ( http://specialcollections.library.wisc.edu/exhibits/archives.html#y2011).


Registration and Membership Dues

Registration forms for the Sixteenth Biennial International Society of Anglo-Saxonists conference to be held 29 July to 2 August 2013 in Dublin, and hosted jointly by University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin, will be provided electronically to all paid-in-full members of the Society. Membership dues for two years may be made by check or money order for $50.00 or £30.00 sterling (for regular members) or $35.00 or £20.00 (for students or retired members), or $100.00 or £60.00 sterling (for regular members) or $70.00 or £40.00 (for students and retired members).

Membership dues should be sent to

Prof. Stacy S. Klein

Executive Director, ISAS

Dept. of English

Rutgers University

510 George Street

New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1167 USA

e-mail: ssklein@rci.rutgers.edu

Dues payments may be made to the Executive Director by Visa, MasterCard, or personal check. Dues forms are available on the ISAS website (http://www.isas.us/mem.html).