The 2022 Leeds IMC marked the first year since the beginning of the pandemic when in-person sessions were able to be organized once again. I attended a short part of the conference as one of the moderators for the Ceræ session titled: In the Middle of What?: Period Boundaries in Medieval Studies, II. This was my first IMC, and my first time moderating a session. It turned out to be a memorable experience and one which served to remind me of what life was like before the pandemic.
For me, IMC was a short affair due to ongoing excavations in Bavaria which I had to return to. However, my time at this IMC, with the theme ‘Borders’, was a memorable one and an excellent learning experience. With the conference being a hybrid event, it offered many scholars without the means to travel to Leeds the chance to participate. This was particularly true for the session I moderated, as two of our authors presented digitally from Brazil. I anticipated some technical difficulties and, being unfamiliar with how a hybrid conference is conducted, I was somewhat nervous about moderating the session. Thankfully, the staff at the IMC did an excellent job supporting the moderators and presenters with the digital platform. It was not without some hiccups, but this was primarily due to poor connection which could not be fixed from Leeds.
Aside from our Ceræ sessions, I was able to attend a keynote lecture by Stefan Brink, who discussed territorial and social borders in Medieval Scandinavia. His discussion of the lower ranks of society, the different categories of slaves and the lowest freemen was informative and an area that I am glad to see researchers interested in. Having an anthropological background as part of my archaeology studies in the United States, a holistic study of society and the interactions of different groups within it can provide new insights which may have been previously neglected.
Being the first conference I attended in Europe since the pandemic, it was a welcome experience to reunite with colleagues after the last sessions of the day. Many of the usual suspects from my time in Viking studies in Iceland and Denmark were present, and the campus provided ample room for rubbing elbows with colleagues over a few pints at the University Union Pub. It was an atmosphere which I didn’t realize was so valuable to have at a traditional academic conference for those able to attend. By no means a requirement, but the in-person networking opportunities are something that are difficult, if not impossible, to replicate in a digital environment.
All in all, despite my brief stay in York and just a day to enjoy the IMC, I intend to go again in the near future.
Dain Swenson (@dainswenson)
Reminder: If you have a conference review, or an article, that you wish to publish, we accept contributions year-round. Please contact our Social Media Manager for more details, or visit us on Twitter.
Featured image is from the International Medieval Congress – University of Leeds.