It’s always people beginning with M who tag me in memes, it seems; this time Michelle of Heavenfield has enwrapped me in a question about blogging. She asks, basically, why do I blog? and wants three reasons. My About page has some stuff around one, and I’ve given some account of the origins of the blog elsewhere, which is two, but she wants three and I can perhaps collect them all together like this, so I guess I’ll bite.
The real genesis of this blog was a party I was at, where the host and a friend of his were both ‘early adopters’ of work blogging. They had blogs as part of their jobs, and one of them was convinced that this was the absolute cutting-edge and that soon everyone, everyone, would need to be doing this to be taken seriously as someone who was trying to get what they had to say to the rest of the world. I’d been talking about my field, saying I did medieval history focussing mainly on the tenth century and he said, “I mean, when I stick `tenth medieval’ into a search engine, I should get you back”. And as you can see that stuck with me. But it was a while before I actually did it (and even now it’s still 24 hits before you get to me if you try that on Google UK). So the reasons were, in something like order as this has developed:
- to try and exit the doldrums of job-hunting by giving myself a dynamic-looking web presence that indicated research ongoing even while publications might not. In this I haven’t really stayed the course; I do a lot more talking about what other people are doing than I do about my own stuff here and I have been a lot less mercenarily close than I think I originally intended, because of my enjoyment of just talking about this stuff with some kind of audience and interaction without paying a conference registration fee. So instead it became more of an answer to another wish…
- to answer the old nagging sense that we have to atone for living off others’ taxes and Lottery money by being ready to offer answers to the public, to reach out and be popular medievalists as well as professional ones, with my own personal outreach space. To be honest, I don’t do half as much of that here as that might suggest. If someone’s after knowing what I’m doing, they can come here, and they can also do that if, as is frequent, they want to know why Crusaders went to the Holy Land in 1095, but otherwise, if instead they want to know whether King Arthur really existed or what the Vikings did, they’re better off going to my actual static webpages, which are really doing both this (2) and (1) and since longer ago too. So that only leaves…
- that this place has become an ideas bank. I put stuff here when I read something and react to it, and now I can find it in a websearch. It’s essentially a publically-readable version of Google Desktop for my medieval reading notes, with the advantage of feedback and connections that that gives me.
So I don’t object at all if someone finds this and goes, “this man has ideas and wants to get them out there, we like that” or is just interested in learning something that I can help with, that’s great, but I’m afraid that really you’re all just helping me organise my thoughts and encouraging me till the first two purposes become less relevant…
I normally object to tagging in memes, even though I realise that’s the point; all the same, it smacks of chain letters. But in this instance, I’d be genuinely interested in knowing what led some people to pick up the keyboard and put themselves before the world, and three of these people are Magistra, to whom I owe a tag anyway, Jennifer Lynn Jordan, whom Michelle also tagged but hasn’t yet responded—your public dahling! consider your public!—and last of all the Emperor Antoninus Pius, because you know, that should be worth reading. So I have been over to these places and asked and we’ll see what forthcomes.
Yes sir right away sir! (frantically blogs)
You might be pleased to know you’re the second hit for ‘tenth medieval’ on google australia…
also, the swathe of google searches pertaining to keywords from this post was me.
I’m gratified by my Australian page-ranking, then, even if I’ve no idea why it should be that way…
Oh no, in fact, actually typing this entry has put me up to second on Google UK as well! If I’d known it was that simple… !
Apparently I’m already the sixth google return for ‘philologist’… I’m not sure that I’m ready for the responibility!
The question is- what will it take for you to outst “women’s history” as the top listing for tenth medieval? It’ll have to be something spectacular…
I’m sure if we just keep this thread going and mention “tenth medieval” a lot it’ll happen eventually, but seriously, quite apart from the lame `liking women on top’ gags that rise unbidden to the mind, I don’t mind women’s history getting the top spot there, it’s rare enough that it does. I like that page especially because it has a couple of people not even from Europe in it. Yes! The rest of the world also happened during the Middle Ages, even if they weren’t being medieval! Well remembered! etc.
Sigh… not only had I not previously thought of lame liking women on top gags, I can’t think of appropriate comeback not to make to these jokes you have not made. Must be too early in the morning.
The rest of the world also happened during the Middle Ages, even if they weren’t being medieval! Well remembered! etc.
Quite, although one thing I often wonder about is people labelling various periods in other cultures ‘medieval’… The vast disparity in time and culture between, say, medieval europe and ‘medieval’ Japan would seem to me to make the label counterproductive. Although I am assured by a medievalist/ come-asian-studies friend that medieval monks were mad everywhere, so that’s a start.
I don’t think you should be too worried about having a cleaner mind than mine, really. Just be glad you don’t know me IRL :-) Though even there people keep mistaking me for a gentleman.
As to the question of periodization, I agree which was why I phrased carefully; medieval Japan for example, a phrase that I have seen used, seems when it is to cover till the 18th-century opening-up to the world by Perry (whose coin collection is currently in my place of work, FWIW). `Medieval’ Africa just makes no sense as a term. And the Inca Empire looks more than much else like the Persian or Babylonian ones that we know, and yet calling something that was conquered with gunpowder and horses `ancient’ begins to sound like sword and sorcery fantasy. As I’ve had to observe elsewhere, you can only have a `middle ages’ if you think you had something else before and something else else after. But even with that proviso, it only really works for Europe.
It’s the whole Cambridge air. People will keep mistaking that for gentlemanliness, no matter what you do.
In fact, if the boys’ colleges here are anything to judge by, you are a gentleman merely by virtue of your august institution; the trick to maintaining your gentlemanliness is to restrict your debauchery to suitably snobby (academic or otherwise) company.
The problem- and possibly why historians and denizens of places other than europe want to talk about ‘medieval’ periods and so on is the ingrained ‘how we got here’ thinking. Modernity is achieved by a progress from classical to dark age to medieval to renaissance to early modern and TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!
no, wait, that’s Buzz Lightyear. Point is, perhaps there’s a sense that The Modern Civilised World comes out of this typically european categorisation of history, and the fact that other places are perforce outside of that limits appreciation of their history and development?
I’ve found actually that keeping debauchery to non-academic company is definitely the best way to go. Not that I ever, &c., you can’t prove anything, you get the idea. I think it’s less Cambridge and more the accent and manners. People confuse the outward behaviour with the inner morals…
As to the Euro-centric world development view, yes, very much so; in fact if you get hold of Jared Diamond’s Guns Germs and Steel ever it’s all about finding explanations for the Western European dominance of world society that have some actual justification in fact rather than prejudice. I spent a lot of it going, “well, I’d have to see the site report before I was sure about that” but it’s an inspiring read.
Well, if it weren’t for academics I would never have gotten drunk, ever, at all… I would remark on the fact that I lead a more sheltered life than you, but frankly, it’s hard to find someone who’s had a LESS sheltered life than I.
Guns, Germs, Steel, huh? *makes mental note*
Most academics are pretty safe people to get drunk with, at least :-)