Last week I spent five days at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC, to attend IONA: Early medieval studies on the islands of the North Atlantic—transformative networks, skills, theories, and methods for the future of the field. They aren’t kidding about the transformative bit: I’ve never been to anything like it. It was a purely academic conference that felt like the best WisCon or ICFA ever. Super collaborative and cooperative. If you’re even remotely interested in either the early medieval or the future of academic conferences, you should go read the programme. And perhaps start planning to attend the next IONA, which will be at King’s College London, November 2021.

I was one of the plenary speakers. Here’s the description of my lecture:

This plenary presentation discusses how Griffith’s most recent novel, Hild (2013) operates as a second-order discourse on the illusory nature of history’s immutability: how the novel deconstructs the intersectional development of oppressive discourse on gender, sexual orientation, race, and (with forthcoming Hild sequel Menewood) disability. Central to Griffith’s address is why she chose a queer female protagonist for these novels set in seventh-century Britain, and era of ethnogenesis and cultural change. In doing so, Griffith focuses on the embodiment of the novel, protagonist, and author to argue for the urgent necessity of acknowledging and incorporating one’s understanding of embodiment—and, therefore, identity—into not only the creative arts but scholarly inquiry.

I’m linking here to the PDF of my plenary, plus the slides.* I’ll probably leave them up until the end of the month then take them down. So if you want them, get them now. And then go look at the pretty new IONA website.

Many thanks to Clare Lees for the lovely introduction, and Matt Hussey for organising a splendid conference and inviting me to speak.


*Link fixed