So the Leeds Monasticism Conference – indeed, my return to Leeds in general – was all I hoped it would be and more. Slickly run, diverse in its subject matter and with a couple of really stimulating roundtable sessions at the end of each day, I aim to make the conference an annual fixture in my calendar and would recommend you do the same, whether monasticism is very much your bag or just a more minor element in your research or interest in the medieval period. I’d put together my presentation on the St Mary Overy origin story (a summary of which I’ve added to my Academia profile) in isolation from “monasticists” but it seemed to go down well among those present.
From the other presentations and discussions I enjoyed at the conference, I came to realise that my approach of breaking down the story into several elements then subjecting them to tests to ascertain if they may be derived from historical fact is perfectly valid, but ignores what can be gleaned from consideration of the broad themes common to many such stories. In the case of St Mary Overy, some of the more spurious elements pertaining to the Anglo-Saxon phase of the church’s existence may have a lot to say about Southwark’s perception of itself relative to London, and an attempt to construct a basis for being seen as a “real” in its own right. I’m not sure what the final outlet for my work on the origin story will be but expect to see my presentation slides and maybe something else appear under my Work heading in the coming weeks.
Before I gave my paper, the session chair was kind enough to give a shout out to Surrey Medieval. It turned out mine is not the only WordPress blog run by a conference participant. PiMMS.Net, to give it its frankly fabulous abbreviated title, is a project in its early stages but with big ambitions. My own research (not least my LMC presentation!) owes a great debt to the name-forms and associated information collected as part of the Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England (PASE) database, so another online resource is most welcome. They’re on the look out for contributors, so if you’re doing something vaguely monastic and/or prosopographical and are looking for a platform for your work, get in touch via their blog. Though it’s a long way from being my specialist subject, I’ve resolved to put something together for them at some point. Go on, summer is almost upon us, toast it with PiMMS.