The following five and a half minute clip is part of a longer interview I did with Dr. David Sheffler, Chair of the History Department at the University of North Florida. In this clip we discuss the excellent history program at UNF (which offers both Bachelors and Masters degrees in history ) and how well it prepared me for my later doctoral studies at the University of Florida.
I genuinely think that UNF’s history program offers a wonderful opportunity for students to study the past in an environment that both demands rigor and gives one the opportunity to interact with extraordinarily well qualified professors and historians. This clip briefly considers study abroad opportunities, preparation for doctoral programs, graduate teaching assistantships, and the educational background and qualifications of the professors.
The department is a real gem for those interested in studying history in north Florida.
On the inside of the dustcover of his mammoth 768-page biography of the famed British historian Sir Steven Runciman, author Minoo Dinshaw notes:
“In his enormously long life, Steven Runciman managed not just to be a great historian of the Crusades and Byzantium, but Grand Orator of the Orthodox Church, a member of the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, [and] Greek Astronomer Royal and Laird of Eigg. His friendships, curiosities and intrigues entangled him in a huge array of different artistic movements, civil wars, Cold War betrayals and, above all, the rediscovery of the history of the Eastern Mediterranean. He was as happy living in a remote part of the Inner Hebrides as in the heart of Istanbul. He was obsessed with historical truth, but also with tarot, second sight, ghosts, and the uncanny.”
The following list of books is based on a survey of 33 academic historians who were asked to provide an annotated list of what they saw as the ten “most important” books on the crusades. More information about the project can be seen here. Based on the same data, I also provide a ranking of the most influential historians based on how many mentions their books received from the historians, which can be viewed here. Continue reading →
As a medievalist, I have long been familiar with the excellent reputation of the eminent scholar Jane Chance, the Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor Emerita in English at Rice University and a recipient of an honorary doctorate of letters from Purdue University in 2013. Although I am a historian and her work is in the discipline of medieval literature, we medievalists are often (although not always) aware of the work of scholars in other disciplines. Yet Jane, in particular, is a powerhouse in the field, having authored twenty-three books and over one hundred articles and reviews on Old and Middle English literature, medieval women and gender, and medievalism. She has also received Guggenheim and NEH Fellowships, membership at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio residency, and many book and article prizes for her various works.
In 2011 she began her well-earned retirement thirty-eight years after teaching her first English course at Rice University in 1973. Yet like many senior scholars, Jane saw her “retirement” as simply giving her more time to pursue her scholarship. Indeed, since her retirement she has produced four more books and served as a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston. Very few scholars, even among the elite, could boast of such a successful career and speak with greater authority on the state of medieval studies.
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.
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 here. Continue reading →
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 →