October 6, 2021, by Postgraduate Placements Nottingham

A dream come true

Rebecca Wheddon, PhD Student in Late Medieval History, reflects on attending the Leeds International Medieval Congress (IMC), with help from the Researcher Academy’s Online Conference Fund.

The Leeds International Medieval Congress (IMC) is the highlight of any medievalist’s calendar. 3,000 fellow historians gathered – albeit virtually – to share their latest research spanning all aspects of medieval life. With the help the Online Conference Fund (OCF), I was fortunate enough to not only attend this inter-disciplinary event but also to contribute my own research.

~ Leeds Medieval Conference

To present at Leeds had always been a dream of mine since coming to Nottingham, as it is the largest medieval conference in the U.K. I was nervous to see that there were some well-known historians in attendance at my panel, as I have read many of their works and so I was at first intimidated by the idea of sharing my research with them. But at the same time, I was also keen to rise to the challenge – I was confident in my paper and my ideas, and the presence of fellow University of Nottingham colleagues also helped to calm my nerves. The actual presentation itself went smoothly – thankfully technology was on our side! I really enjoyed giving the paper and I felt like I had completed a checkpoint in my professional career.

Upon reflection I am glad that those historians were there, as it made the feeling of accomplishment of presenting at my first IMC that much greater. I genuinely felt honoured to have been able to give a paper and to share the session with two wonderful historians whom both also study medieval political language like I do, and to learn about its impact across the medieval period through their papers. It gave me a greater understanding of the role language played in the centuries preceding my own research, and this has given me essential context for improving and refining my own ideas as I move forward.

“I want to thank the Researcher Academy for enabling me to attend this conference, as this year’s conference truly was my personal highpoint of this academic year.”

Aside from my own session, I was able to attend several others which spoke to my interests, both inside and outside my research. The panel on ‘Remembering the Yorkists and Lancastrians’ which directly ties into my own work, was a definite highlight. Considering how memory affected the image of these two royal families and their leaders, both whilst they were alive and after their deaths, and assessing the true impact they had on English politics in the short and long term, it was a fascinating panel which has inspired me to ask similar questions of these kings in my thesis and expanded my understanding of a period that I care very much about. But the best thing about the Leeds Congress is the variety of panels not related to my research. The stand-out moment has to be in a session on the medieval Gough map, wherein we were told that the creator put in a ‘scale-bar’ on one of the maps purely to prove that he knew what one was, but made it deliberately inaccurate and did not refer to it in his text. Idiosyncrasies like this are why my fascination with the medieval period will long continue, as it hints at the real people behind these documents we examine so intensely.

As is tradition, the second-to-last night of the Congress meant the IMC Disco. A virtual disco is something that I was sceptical about – how would it work? After all, we are all in separate homes! But with the help of the University of Leeds radio station, and some excellently chosen medieval dance videos, it was a wonderful evening which took me by surprise in the best way. Even people’s pets got involved, which was fantastic – everyone knows that if your pet walks in front of the camera, they must be immediately introduced! It was definitely my highlight of the conference. Being able to network with colleagues in an informal environment was truly special, and the dance moves were something to behold! I want to thank the Researcher Academy OCF for enabling me to attend this conference, as this year’s conference truly was my personal highpoint of this academic year.

You can find out more about the Online Conference Fund here.

Posted in Online Conference FundResearcher Mobility Funding