The 27th Harlaxton Medieval Symposium
‘Patrons and Professionals’
20-23 July, 2010
Convened by Professor Paul Binski and Dr Elizabeth New
The Countess Flegentine orders the making of tombs for Mordrain’s men, from the Estoire del saint Graal. © The British Library Board. Royal 14.E.iii, f. 66r. The nexus of patron and professional in action.
Conferences, a staple of the academic life, are always welcome events in the mundane calendar of the scholar, but the experience of the Harlaxton Medieval Symposium is exceptional. First, an invitation to Harlaxton generates unusual worries. While polishing my paper, some thoughts of my ability to rise to the occasion kept intruding. Was my croquet handicap low enough? Would the dress already selected be appropriate for the black tie dinner? Then, the delightful arrival at beautiful Harlaxton manor set in its glorious rolling countryside was complicated by the many corridors in which one meanders until, by some stroke of luck, the room sought is finally sighted. It is, however, a pleasure to be lost in Harlaxton. All these splendid rooms to wander about, these grand windows through which to view bits of open skies and impeccable turf; all these colleagues, equally lost, with whom to strike up conversation and begin durable friendship. For the few days that the conference lasts, all gathered there not only share a common interest in things medieval, they become a community, bound together by the joy that a gorgeous environment produces, stimulated by the excitement that excellent papers inspire and prolong during passionate discussions. Collegiality is the keynote, undeterred by Harlaxton’s somewhat idiosyncratic cuisine, respecting private chats and quiet moments. Throughout the event, the sequence of sessions, conversations, and visits to local places of cultural interest is seamless; the attentiveness of those responsible for the symposium, unflagging. It is a treat to be able to participate in such a conference at Harlaxton, whose broad vistas situate high intellectual standards against horizons of natural beauty and amidst the warmth of friendship.
Professor Brigitte Bedos-Rezak
New York University