Category Archives: Uncategorized

Don’t Teach Osama bin Laden’s Version of History.

Above Image: The northeast face of World Trade Center (south tower) after being struck by a plane in the south face on September 11, 2001. Source: Wiki Creative Commons.

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A number of medievalists and their followers are commenting in articles and on social media about the appropriation of the Middle Ages by modern white supremacists or “Nazis.” Indeed, a significant number of scholars in the literary camp of medieval studies have rallied around the notion that those teaching courses on the Middle Ages need to actively and urgently challenge such narratives in the classroom. This seems to be particularly the case with a popular academic website called In the Middle, where several medieval scholars write or comment on related issues. One recent essay by Dorothy Kim, Assistant Professor of English at Vassar College, was widely shared on social media and has firmly emphasized such a goal, claiming that “objectivist neutrality” by scholars teaching in academic disciplines that focus on the Middle Ages no longer works “because it facilitates white supremacists/white nationalists/KKK/Nazis and their horrific deployment of the Middle Ages.” Professor Kim issues both a wake up call and a rallying cry for scholars to pro-actively work against white supremacist narratives in the classroom, noting that because professors are authorities teaching medieval subjects they are, “in fact, ideological arms dealers.” Her essay expresses concern over the violence associated with white supremacy, historical linkages between white supremacy and academia, and the responsibility of scholars to clearly signal to their students that they themselves are not white supremacists or some of their students will “absolutely question” if they can “speak in your class with safety.” The full text of Professor Kim’s essay can be read hereContinue reading

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The Third Crusade and the Siege of Acre: An Interview with Dr. John D. Hosler

Next month my friend and fellow medieval historian Dr. John D. Hosler will be doing the unthinkable for many academics in that he is giving up his tenured position as a full professor at Morgan State University, where he has taught for the last twelve years, in exchange for a position with the U.S. Army. To be clear, he is not joining the Army, in the traditional sense, but is instead taking what will undoubtedly be a fascinating position as an Associate Professor at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. As someone who cares deeply about those who serve in our military, wishing to see them receive the very best possible support, I could not be happier to know John will be acting in this role. Continue reading

Interview with Dr. Wesley Moody on Seven Myths of the Civil War

As seen in the video below, I recently had the chance to interview my colleague, Dr. Wesley Moody at Florida State College at Jacksonville, on the popular myths of the U.S. Civil War. Wes is an expert on the U.S. Civil War and has published his fourth book (forthcoming from Hackett Publishing) on the topic with a series I am co-editing with Dr. Alfred J. Andrea. The book includes the contributions of seven leading U.S. historians considering some of the most controversial issues related to U.S. Civil War history. We soberly discuss them here.

Special thanks to Professor Isaac Brown and his students at Florida State College at Jacksonville, particularly Lance Hunt, for their efforts in producing this. I hope we can make more of these on other key topics in the future.

“Readers of this book who thought they knew a lot about the U.S. Civil War will discover that much of what they ‘knew’ is wrong. For readers whose previous knowledge is sketchy but whose desire to learn is strong, the separation of myth from reality is an important step toward mastering the subject. The essays will generate lively discussion and new insights.”
—James M. McPherson, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University

 

The Most Influential Crusade Historians

(Originally Published on 7/27/2017- Most recent update on 8/27/2017)

In a recent blog post, I requested the lists of several medieval historians ranking the ten “most important” books on the crusades. Currently, 28 historians have submitted their lists (with more scheduled to come in). Based on a count of the lists submitted so far, and not including books mentioned in the annotated commentary provided by each historian, I have pulled together the following ranking based on whose books have received the most mentions. Continue reading

Historians Rank the “Most Important” Books on the Crusades

“As I write these words, it is nearly time to light the lamps; my pen moves slowly over the paper and I feel myself almost too drowsy to write as the words escape me. I have to use foreign names and I am compelled to describe in detail a mass of events which occurred in rapid succession; the result is that the main body of the history and the continuous narrative are bound to become disjointed because of interruptions. Ah well, “’tis no cause for anger” to those at least who read my work with good will. Let us go on.”

Anna Comnena, Alexiad 13.6, trans. by E.R.A. Sewter

Provided here are the responses of several medieval historians who were asked to provide a list of the top ten “most important” books on the crusades. Many of them are leading scholars in the field. Hopefully, it will be a useful resource for both students and interested readers. For more information, please see the Crusade Book List Project and to see each historian’s list click on their name below (or you can scroll and browse through them below). Please hit the back button to return to the contributor’s list. Also, check back in the future for additional contributions that will be added over time. This will be an ongoing project.

See also: The Most Influential Crusade Historians

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Saladin’s Legacy: Some Thoughts

Above Image: Cover image of Yaacov Lev’s excellent book Saladin in Egypt (Leiden: Brill, 1999).

The Egyptian Sultan Saladin (r. 1171-1193), a Sunni Muslim Kurd, is often celebrated for his chivalrous virtues and deeds during the crusading era. In popular modern film and literature, in both the east and the west, Saladin is depicted as a man of honor and reason, not swept up in the religious passions of his day, and thus a sort of modern role model for enlightened behavior in times of conflict. Yet such heroic popular narratives of medieval military leaders are rarely, if ever, fully accurate and in Saladin’s case there is considerable evidence to demonstrate he was much more of a man of his times than suggested by otherwise romanticized views of his career. Continue reading

Medieval Historians and their Military Service

Above Images: (left to right) Professor Laurence Marvin of Berry College, Professor Patrick Geary of the Institute for Advanced Study, and Professor Florin Curta of the University of Florida.

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When I was working on my Ph.D. in history, I believed that I was the only student in the graduate program at the University of Florida that had any military experience. I may have been wrong, but I was not aware of anyone else who had served. Continue reading