Gender Medieval Studies 2021

I’ve spent the last few days (virtually) attending the GMS Conference – thinking about gender and mobility while we are on lockdown was quite profound, but my highlight was how strong the feeling of community (and a deeply inclusive and feminist community at that) was. Also I got to present some of research for the first time since May 2017, so that was cool/terrifying. I’ve also managed to add at least six books to my to-read list. Never mind another bookshelf, at this rate I’m going to need another house!

I’m now very tired – especially as on Monday I had an MRI scan as well as the conference. I’ll be glad of a lie in tomorrow morning, but it was completely worth the exhaustion. I’ve talked before about how online conferences make it much easier for me to go to them (I’m aware they aren’t perfect and that it’s much harder to re-enact certain things that are often highlights of in person conferences, but I’ve been to a few over the last year which I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise)

If conferences are online in the future, I would definitely consider submitting an abstract again – presenting does make me quite anxious, but a lot of that anxiety was fixed by having prerecorded papers. I could be sure that my actual paper wasn’t going to go wrong, although the questions were another matter. I think they went alright, although doubtless I’ll wake up remembering all the things I should have said!

One of the things that made GMS so special was the sense of community it engendered (pun intended) – I was surprised by how strongly I felt it, particularly being online. I’ve been to the conference once before (in January 2017, I think) and I knew a lot of my fellow presenters. Even though we were all miles apart (in some cases, continents apart – one of the main advantages of online things is that they’re much cheaper to get to!) it felt like there was a real connection between participants. Most importantly for me, it felt like a community built around inclusive feminist solidarity.

I really appreciated how honest and open many of the speakers were, especially Dr Rachel Moss; her plenary session will hopefully stay with me for a long time. I think it speaks volumes as to what a truly wonderful safe space GMS have created that it allows for and fosters such a confessional environment.

If you want to know anymore, please check out the conference hashtag on Twitter (#gms2021) where a lot of people much more articulate than me were sharing their thoughts throughout. Most of my tweets were about Taylor Swift…

On that note, I’ll finish this post with one such tweet:

To quote the great Taylor Swift, and to paraphrase Liz Herbert McAvoy, never be so clever, you forget to be kind #GMS2021

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