Harriet asks:

What are all your scholarly interests?

Now, OK, part of the purpose of this blog is to talk about the things that aren’t/weren’t my scholarly interests. And probably most of my interests are not scholarly anymore. I hit the second-finest mesh in academia and didn’t go through. But here they are, from scholarliest to least scholarly.

Burial practice in late Anglo-Saxon and early post-Conquest England, with a side of burial practice in like Scandinavia and Ireland and so on: man, we tend to think that Christian burial is a relatively well-understood thing in the middle ages but we are kidding ourselves. All kinds of crazy stuff goes on and we have only really begun to look seriously at it over the last few decades.

The archaeology of late Anglo-Saxon England generally: setting for above.

The Vikings: boy howdy I love me some Vikings. Not just for the metaaaal aspects but for the weirdness. As a rule, the reality of any historical culture is just plain stranger than its stereotype, and this one is no exception.

The First Crusade: and the career of Bohemond of Taranto in particular. One of those times in history when awful things happen to mostly awful people and I just can’t take my eyes off the resulting train wreck.

Life and Works of H.P. Lovecraft: not a humorous Cthulhu t-shirt. You can wear a humorous Cthulhu t-shirt, it’s cool. I just don’t want to be misunderstood.

Fringe everything — fringe history, fringe archaeology: it’s bullshit and its practitioners are dumbheads, lunatics, charlatans or very nice people who are just a little misguided and yet I can’t look away. It’s fascinating and a lot of their stuff makes for a better story.

Rituals, death and burial, all that kind of thing: what do people do with their dead and why? That last part, that’s the tough part.

How people in the past thought about the past: nothing but a medieval portrait of Julius Caesar wearing a set of medieval armour over and over again.

Everything else ever: I am not an expert on, but have a reasonably good grip on swarms of other subjects, from the conquest of Mexico (train wreck) to the eastern front in WWII (train wreck) to the development of a centralised state in Tudor England (not, like, a conquest-of-Mexico-scale train wreck anyway) to the life and career of Woodrow Wilson (train wreck). I am not good at devoting my life to one thing.

Pop culture, especially comic books: I once thought about getting a tattoo of something Anglo-Saxon-y and related to my work, but I think that if you have a tattoo of Anglo-Saxon art people will probably think you are a racist. My second choice was some Kirby krackle.

Harriet asks:

2 thoughts on “Harriet asks:

  1. Another James H says:

    The horrors of the Eastern Front in WWII are bafflingly underdiscussed.

    Well, I say ‘bafflingly’, I mean ‘As yet another grim aspect of the Cold War’s popular historiographical legacy’, but that sounds fancier. I feel like it leads to people seriously underloading what a horrible century the 20th C. is (while using words like ‘medieval’ or ‘Byzantine’ to shortcut to nastiness.)

    1. I once wrote a role-playing game about the horrors (or at least the boredom) of the Eastern Front. It was more a thought experiment than something I would necessarily want to play, but I won $25 for it, so it can’t have been that bad.

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