The Kalamazoo Riddle Group
Current News

As you can see below the series of sessions devoted to the Riddles continues, with varying degrees of participation. In the low year of 2002, the reason for the absence of proposed papers seems to be a combination of there not being any papers on the riddles submitted randomly and the fact that the subject was listed as a "sponsored session" rather than a special topic. A proposal for a special session was submitted for the 39th Congress was submitted again this May. The history suggests what it is reasonable to expect. As the Bibliography indicates, the normal run of articles devoted to the riddles, world wide, averages five a year for the last 25 years. So we can reasonably expect to sustain at least one session in Kalamazoo on the Riddles every year.

Special Note for 2003. All four of the papers presented this year were devoted to discovering religious and spiritual meanings coded in the several different Riddles. The most dramatic occasion was the paper by Karmen Lenz. It was an interpretation of Williamson Riddle #1 (K-D 1, 2, 3) that argued on the basis of a structural design of incremental repetition for the unity of this problmatic block of text. I have requested that the papers be made available on line here. Sometimes it happens, but not as often as I request, for a variety of reasons. The history of the numbering of the Riddles and the inconvenience of having two sets of numbers suggests that it might to be useful to have a discussion site for the riddles to facilitate communication among Riddle Scholars. Suggestions anyone?

Origins and History

The origin of the "Kalamazoo Riddle Group" is in the International Congress of 1998. Thomas Klein was scheduled to give a paper in Session 119: Beowulf II, Robert Stevick, Presider. William Klein, Professor of English at Kenyon College (where Thomas Klein had done his undergraduate work in Medieval Studies before going on to the Center for Medieval Studies in Toronto University) traveled to Kalamazoo to attend this session. Thomas Klein's paper, "How "stonc" the Dragon: An Old Textual Crux in Beowulf Reconsidered," involved some "nice" philological considerations bearing on whether the Dragon was sniffing or stinking. Thomas Klein's research tended to support the sense that the Dragon did not present a pleasing olfactory presence, but the evidence was not definitive. The discussion following the three papers centered on Klein's argument. Robert Stevick thought he had some evidence to strengthen Klein's case (which he subsequently shared with him. It was a pleasant moment that echoed the words used by the President of the University of Chicago to greet newly christened doctoral candidates: "I welcome you to the company of scholars."

This meeting was the first time William Klein had been to the Kalamazoo meeting since 1974 when he had given a paper on The Wanderer and The Seafarer, which was published the next year in Anglo-Saxon Poetry, edited by Nicholson, Frese, and Gerber. After that moment William Klein wandered off into bustle of the academic city, working on John Crowe Ransom, Semiotics and C.S. Pierce, and the Kenyon Review. But the conversation that afternoon was so pleasant that he resolved to repent his long exile and vowed to return in 1999.

So it happened in that year that William Klein gave a paper entitled "The Idea of a Literary Anthropologist and What he Might Say about Margaret Paston's letter to John Paston, 1441." Mercifully the paper was scheduled for Sunday morning, so few were the auditors who saw that the argument was not suited to this scale of presentation. But, by a strange fluke of scheduling that forced Paul Szarmach to act contrary to ordinary practice, William Klein was also scheduled to preside at the session in which Thomas Klein was giving his paper on Riddle 74. The schedule of "riddle" papers is given below under the listing for the 34th International Congress on Medieval Studies, 6-9 May, 1999. What was "originative" about this meeting was that the conversation was again very good and intimately congenial. At the end of the session, William Klein asked the people present about interest in having another session devoted to the Riddles next year. Two handfuls of people answered in the affirmative and gave Klein their names and addresses.

A proposal for a special session was submitted and scheduled for the 35th Congress. The response to the call for papers produced six papers. Paul Szarmach not only scheduled a second session in the already very crowded program, but scheduled the sessions back to back Friday afternoon. It was a very successful afternoon. The papers were wonderful, the conversation fine, the group of scholars attending (35?) enthusiastic and engaged. The papers can be accessed by clicking on the last name of the author in the schedules below.

And it was very convenient indeed for a group to gather at the "Chianti" for dinner. There we toasted Craig Williamson, both for his important contributions to the study of the Riddles and his delightful riddle performance in the afternoon. At that dinner William Klein announced that he would serve as secretary for "The Kalamazoo Riddle Group" and set up a web page reporting its activities and posting the papers delivered. No one objected! How could they? Klein had bought a round of favorite beverages.

Papers presented at the 38th International Congress of 2003:

Session 586 Sunday, May 11, 8:30 am
Bernard Brown and Gold Room
Sponsor: Kalamazoo Riddle Group
Organizer: William Klein, Kenyon College
Presider: William Klein, Kenyon College

"The Well and the Rood: Drawing Forth the Divine in Riddle 58
Ed Lind, Illinois State Univ.

"Beyond the Bull: An Appositive Approach to Riddle 38
Carol Lind, Illinois State Univ.

"Biblical Typology in the Exeter Riddles"
Thomas P. Klein, Idaho State Univ.

"Variation in the Comitatus Theme in the Storm Riddles of the Exeter Book"
Karmen Lenz, Univ. of New Mexico
Papers presented at the 37th International Congress of 2002:

Session 169 Thursday, May 2, 3:30 pm
Schneider 1160
The Exeter Book Riddles
Sponsor: Kalamazoo Riddle Group
Organizer: William Klein, Kenyon College
Presider: Jerome Denno Chadron State College

"The Exeter Book Riddles: Authorship and Collectorship Revisited"
William Klein

"The Exeter Book Riddles Scholarship: A Decade Review"
Thomas Klein, Idaho State University.

"The Exeter Book Riddles: Basic Readings: A Proposed Volume"
A Panel Discussioon with members of the Kalamazoo Riddle Group

Papers presented at the 36th International Congress of 2001:

Session 314 Friday, May 4, 3:30 pm
Valley III, room 313
Anglo-Saxon Riddles
Sponsor: Kalamazoo Riddle Group
Organizer: William Klein, Kenyon College
Presider: Thomas P. Klein, Idaho State Univ.

"The Anonymous Anglo-Latin Riddles: A Pastime and Pedagogical Task "
Martha Bayless, Univ. of Oregon

"The Exeter Riddles in the College Classroom."
William Klein

"Fecundity in Anglo-Saxon Remedies and Riddles."
Christopher Vaccaro, Univ. of Vermont

Papers presented at the 35th International Congress of 2000:

Session 222 (1:30-3:30 Friday)

Anglo-Saxon Riddles I: New Solutions

Organizer: William F. Klein, Kenyon College
Presider: Craig Williamson, Swarthmore College

Jill Frederick, Moorhead State Univ., "Retuning Exeter Book Riddle 80."

John D. Hosler, Iowa State Univ.,"'Do You See The Light?': A Completely New Solution to Riddle 72."

PhyllisPortnoy, Univ. of Manitoba, "The Riddle of the Remnant: Solving OE 'laf'."


Session 279 (3:30-5:00 Friday)

The Anglo-Saxon Riddles II: Culture and Contexts

Organizer: William F. Klein, Kenyon College
Presider: Thomas Klein, Lander Univ.

Jonathan Wilcox, Univ. of Iowa, "Masters and Slaves: Social Inversion in the Old English Riddles."

Brian McFadden, Texas Tech Univ., "The Social Context and Function of 'Wundorlicu wiht' in the Exeter Book Riddles."

Jerome Denno, Univ. of Pennsylvania, "Oppression and Voice in Anglo-Saxon Riddles."

Papers presented at the 34th International Congress of 1999.

Session 422 (3:30-5:00 Saturday afternoon)
Valley II 203
Old English Poetry II
Presider: William Klein, Kenyon College

"A New Solution to Old English Riddle 74"
Thomas Klein, Lander Univ.

Translating Aldhelm into Old English: Riddles 35 and 40 of the Exeter Book
Janie Steen, Peterhouse, Cambridge Univ.

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