Some of my teachers on the Internet

Here is a light-weight diversion while I wrestle with a lecture. By various routes I’ve happened upon some of my old teachers in Cambridge strutting their scholarly stuff on the Internet and thought I’d direct your attention to them. Dr Catherine Hills, famous in certain circles as the person who’s probably excavated more Anglo-Saxon graves than anyone and whose recent book Origins of the English is well worth a look, lectured me in Anglo-Saxon Archaeology during my M. Phil. in Medieval History at Cambridge, and has always been ready with news and help since then when I’ve had the pleasure of running into her. Here she can be seen talking about a dig in her actual college, Newnham, and although it is something of a puff piece about how brilliant a Cambridge education is, nonetheless there she is being herself and unproblematically getting teenage girls to clear a metre and a half depth of soil in order to uncover Roman remains.

And then, more purely scholarly, my old boss, patron and fount of information and help, Dr Mark Blackburn, who also taught me during that M. Phil. as well as by knowledge, publication and example for the time I spent at the Fitzwilliam, managed to get onto the BBC to talk about Anglo-Saxon coinage (and an Elizabethan medal), and there aren’t many people who could do so interestingly enough to make that worth recommending. Here Mark demonstrates that he can. Long may he so continue! It’s an article with supporting audio, so I can’t embed it here, but do go look and listen.

Then, lastly, one of the people I owe most to, Professor Rosamond McKitterick, was awarded a Heineken Prize last year and was therefore hauled onto Youtube, as it were, to talk about her research. And it’s still there, er, here:

The setting is somewhat incongruous but the erudition is real and somewhat better-founded. I, for my part, will have a couple more short Oxford seminar notes then a Cliopatria media-medieval-misuse post, and then I want to ask you guys for some teaching suggestions, but I am not, at the moment, going to guess when I manage this. Keep an eye out…

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8 responses to “Some of my teachers on the Internet

  1. I’m very interested in Dr. McKitterick’s Cultural Memory project (I have a feeling I’m not the only one). I have a bunch of her books. Sometimes I feel like I’m close to being a groupie. She’s excellent at detailing her discussions/arguments and I very much appreciate her willingness to share source material.

    • Sometimes I feel like I’m close to being a groupie

      There are a lot of us who feel this way, but most of us were in her charge at some point. The word ‘Rosamundling’ is the one we have found being used amongst ourselves, often whether or not she was our doctoral supervisor, so you can see the kind of social memory we develop. She does take tremendous pains for her students, which breeds grateful loyalty. But, as you say, the books let anyone join the group, to an extent. And yes: I have more of her books than any other medievalist’s bar Hugh Kennedy, though in some cases that would change if some only wrote some more… I want Jinty Nelson to finish her Charlemagne biography drat it, etc.

  2. The IHR Making History project has fairly long audio interviews (plus transcripts) on being a historian with
    Jinty Nelson and Susan Reynolds (plus other interesting interviewees).

    • Ah! I’d seen the one with Susan but somehow missed the fact that there was audio, hidden behind the Flashblock I guess. Marvellous! I thought you could hear her in it, if it’s actually a straight transcript that’ll be why… I also hadn’t realised there was one with Jinty, so thankyou for that. Apart from anything else I have that interview to thank for the word ‘Marxisant’, which I realised immediately on seeing it I’ve wanted for a long time!

      • Once I’d internalised Susan’s speaking voice, that blend of old-fashioned authority and pragmatism, I started finding that I can ‘hear’ some of the best lines in her books and her articles, and you get an even more memorable effect.

        Given that Jinty refers to the influence of Peter Brown on her, I should also give a renewed shout-out to a talk by him on his academic career. No audio or video, but anything discussing early worries about whether cowboys were Catholic or Protestant is always memorable.

        • I have the same audio echo with Simon Keynes’s stuff, on the long-ago basis of first-year lectures. His style is memorable and has probably bent mine more than I realise.

          As for Brown, I’d read that before, after David Ganz pointed out his version of the bishop cliché, but I’d managed to let this slip me past:

          In 1948, I arrived from Ireland at the
          age of 13 to a Public School (that is, to a private boarding school) at Shrewsbury in England. I was the son of an engineer trained in Dublin, who had recently returned from Khartoum in the Sudan, having witnessed the very first test-flights of the new jet airplane.

          He talks about anecdotes that become impenetrable within a few years, well, there’s one; all the earliest British jets I know of were test-flown in the UK, I’ve no idea what his father thought he’d seen but Brown has his critical blind spots too, it would seem. It’s an impressive essay, not withstanding, not least for how easy he seems to make actual thinking.

  3. Cool — now I can go and be intimidated by Jinty, too!

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