Names have been changed to protect the guilty

As has been observed here before, one of the things about stuff on the web is that even once it’s published authors can go back and change it. This is a facility of which I avail myself very little here, except to correct typoes and botched references and so on. However, because its primary function is still, in theory, to advertise my work, I’ve just had to go back and change rather a lot of instances of a few particular things and this seemed worth admitting to up front. What I mean is: I’ve been plugging and citing my forthcoming book absolutely whenever possible here, as you’d expect, and now that there is a contract and others are involved it has been deemed necessary to change the title. So, wherever before you found references to:

Jonathan Jarrett, Pathways of Power in late-Carolingian Catalonia: charters and connections on a medieval frontier, Studies in History (London forthcoming)

you will now find instead references to:

Jonathan Jarrett, Social Relations and Political Control in Frontier Catalonia before 1000, Studies in History (London forthcoming)

and there are so many that there was no way I was going to mark them all as edited. I leave this here basically so that anyone searching for the old title will find it and its new equivalence.

Also, I’d like to plead for two other counts to be taken into consideration:

Jonathan Jarrett, “Aprisio in Catalonia in perspective” in Early Medieval Europe (Oxford forthcoming)

will now appear as:

Jonathan Jarrett, “Settling the Kings’ Lands: aprisio in Catalonia in perspective” in Early Medieval Europe (Oxford forthcoming)

though I still don’t know when, and the paper that was:

Jonathan Jarrett, “Foreigners by Name? Arabic-named communities in ninth- and tenth-century Asturias and León”

still has to go through a final approval of the revisions by the reviewer so I won’t give its intended imprimatur as it might not finally appear there, but at the moment it’s to be identified as:

Jonathan Jarrett, “Arabic-named communities in ninth- and tenth-century Asturias and León, at court and at home”

The rest is all as was and uncertain still, especially on date of actual appearance, but these ones have been retconned into submission throughout the blog, so I thought it was worth letting you know.

9 responses to “Names have been changed to protect the guilty

  1. For the book title you now appear to have got pushed into the worst of all possible worlds: a shortened title that is both effectively meaningless and unmemorable. Most monographs on Carolingian politics and society start with some combination of Politics/Power/State/Society/Rule/Kingship, and they all end up sounding exactly the same. How will people remember that the title is ‘Social Relations and Political Control’ as opposed to ‘Political Relations and Social Control’? At least ‘Pathways of Power’ while fairly meaningless, was slightly more memorable. (As for examples of meaningful and memorable, I’d cite Warren Brown’s ‘Unjust seizure’, or my father’s book on the economic history of the Philippines ‘Prosperity without progress’).

    • I am told to have faith in the people running the business end, who think this will reach its target market better. Also, though I realise your critiques are meant to help (I suppose that they are, anyway), the title is not meaningless to me: the book is in fact about how this area’s political control operated through social relations. I might have possibly gone for `Personal Relations’. Maybe I still should, it would be still closer, but sounds like a history of the family. No, I think it’s correct as is.

      • Given that the title has now been fixed, I guess anything I say will count as unhelpful in one sense, but I wanted to expand and clarify a bit on what I meant by memorable and meaningful/meaningless. The memorability test is the simple Chinese whispers one. Someone at a seminar wants to tell you the vaguely-remembered title of a book, and you need to remember enough to find it at a bookseller or a library. So ‘At the Gate of Christendom’ or ‘Lithuania Rising’ is better than ‘Politics and Power in Early Medieval Europe’ or ‘Politics and History in the Tenth Century’. And your title strikes me as on the hard to remember side and with no obviously memorable shortened version (unlike ‘Pathways of Power’, which was memorable).

        The meaningful/meaningless distinction is about the information content of the words in your title. The ideal title tells readers who ought to be interested in your book that it’s relevant to them, while also telling people who won’t find your book useful that it’s not worth their while investigating further. Your original title had five meaningful terms in that sense: power, late-Carolingian, Catalonia, charters, frontier. That gives geographic region, era, overall topic and several reasons why those not interested in early medieval Spain might nevertheless find it useful (Carolingianists, cartophiles, those working on other frontier societies).

        The new title has ‘social relations and political control’, frontier, Catalonia and ‘before 1000’. You’ve lost charters, which was useful. ‘Social relations and political control’ seems to me not to give a potential reader more significant information than ‘power’, while being more cumbersome. And the exchange of ‘late-Carolingian’ for ‘before 1000’ also doesn’t seem helpful to me. If I didn’t know already that your work was of interest to me, as someone who works on Carolingian stuff but not Spain, I’d think ‘not relevant’ and pass by that title. On the other hand, someone who works on Visigothic Spain would presume it was relevant and then probably be disappointed by the book (assuming that you’re not actually talking much about anything pre-800?).

        So I wonder whether the marketers have tried to make the book look of more general interest, but actually weakened its appeal by losing its specificity? Because the ideal early medieval book title is not actually ‘Early medieval politics, religion, law and society’, however all-encompassing that might seem.

        • I do see your points, and my slightly grumpy response is partly because I don’t know if I can get them addressed. (Also life is generally grump-making at this particular time.) I think `charters’ is probably a good word to lose myself, in as much as people may switch off if they think it’s diplomatic, which it isn’t. However, I agree that actually, for the target audience `Carolingian’ is probably more meaningful than `Catalonia’ (I’ve had to explain where it is to so many people), and the point about Visigothic Spain is a live one, because no, I don’t go much before 880 except on one particular fortress much discussed here. I maintain however that mere `power’ doesn’t adequately describe what I’m doing, which is to demonstrate the associations between people that allowed power to function. I need some way of incorporating the ruled as well as the rulers. Most of all though I agree about memorability, because I’ve had the absolute blank on remembering the new title and the old one sticks no problem, so I think I need to reopen this argument. sigh Thankyou for persisting in my better interest like this.

    • As for examples of meaningful and memorable, I’d cite Warren Brown’s ‘Unjust seizure’

      I like that book (and Warren) a lot, but the title always makes me think of epilepsy.

  2. Was the title change your idea or all down to the publisher? I thought the original ‘Pathways of Power…’ was pretty good – it was certainly clear about what to expect from the book.

  3. Pingback: This title is final « A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe

  4. Pingback: Name in print V: the new Early Medieval Europe has me in it twice « A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe

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