Hackett Publishing’s Myths of History Series

The following clip is taken from a longer interview with Dr. David Sheffler covering a range of topics. This clip considers the genesis of the book Seven Myths of the Crusades, and the Hackett series that resulted from it.

The series has also seen the publication of Seven Myths of the Civil War by Professor Wesley Moody and Seven Myths of Africa in World History by Professor David Northrup. A fourth book, Seven Myths of Native American History, by Professor Paul Jentz, will be published in March, 2018.

Alfred J. Andrea and I (as series editors) encourage any teaching historians who have an idea for a new book in the series to contact us to discuss it. Please email me directly at aholt@fscj.edu or contact Hackett Publishing.

Alan V. Murray on Seven Myths of the Crusades

“There has long been a great need for a book like this one, and it deserves a wide dissemination among the interested reading public and journalists as well as students and professional historians….anyone intending to make judgmental pronouncements on the aims and character of crusading would do well to read it and reflect carefully before rushing into print.”
—Alan V. Murray, University of Leeds


Blogging as a Crusade Historian

Here is a brief clip (5:50) from my longer interview with Dr. David Sheffler that considers public engagement and commentary as a historian. It explains how I began to provide public commentary and the reason I began blogging. It also considers how social media is influencing the way many people view the past.

Studying History at the University of North Florida

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.

Crusade Historians and Steven Runciman

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.”

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15 “Most Important” Books on the Crusades

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

Reflections on the State of Medieval Studies: An Interview with Dr. Jane Chance

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.

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