Tag Archives: Larry Swain

Kalamazoo Eve

Thought I’d drop a quick note before I start running through my program book and finalizing which sessions I’m attending tomorrow.

Got away from home around 2:30 p.m. after I finished mowing my pasture. After a stop at a McDonald’s that didn’t realize they’re part of a fast food franchise I got here a little after 6. Saw Lisa Carnell and Marca of Medievalist in Transit and chatted a bit, plus gave Lisa my bottle of wine for the Blogger meet-up. Saw ADM very briefly as well a bit later.

I almost left my fan at home. I figured that with highs in the mid-70’s and low’s in the 40/50 range I wouldn’t need it but I threw it in at the last minute. Good thing. My room’s on the West side of Eldridge and with the sun shining in all day and the windows closed it had to be 90.

So I opened the window, turned the fan on and got the heck out of there. I sort of hung around the lobby for a few minutes, didn’t see anyone I knew so I decided to head to Bilbo’s. I looked around for a bit and still didn’t see anyone I knew (though I think I later saw Scott Nokes – his table was full anyway, if that’s who it was). So I sat down next to a guy at the bar and it was James McNelis. Now I’d never met James before but his name was sure familiar as he and Larry Swain run the Congress Facebook Group. James and I talked about a whole bunch of things before he left. Then I started chatting with some grad students but when they started doing what students are predisposed to do in a bar I got out of dodge. At one time alcohol was fun – now it’s a poison, at least more than the one beer I’d had.

I have decided to return to my old Congress standby where I introduce myself as “the least intelligent person here.” I’ve appointed myself the Colonel Klink of Kalamazoo.

I’ve also decided to finally come out with it and call medievalists crazy. See, they write these papers, THEN present from them. That’s just plain backwards. It is SO much easier to present first and write second.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work. A couple of weeks ago myself and a colleague from the University of Wyoming gave a webinar titled Enhancing Biosecurity at Fairs and Shows. There were maybe 40 or so on the live show though hopefully more will watch the recording. Anyway, after we were done we stayed on the line to debrief and one of the first comments from one of the organizers was, “That was great, you guys should put together an article on it.” Present first – that’s the easy part, THEN put a paper together.

The humanities have been doing things their way for a long time so I don’t suppose a note from Colonel Klink will get them to change things but this process sure seems easier to me. Guess that’s one of the reasons why I’m not a historian.

If you’re at Kalamazoo hopefully I’ll run into you over the next four days. The description still fits – fat guy wearing a baseball cap who describes himself as “the least intelligent person here.” That’s OK, I’m on vacation. And starting at 8 a.m. tomorrow, that means the book exhibit. I just hope I can control myself.


Posted by on May 13, 2015 in Conferences


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Repost: Marginalia; An Online Review Journal

There may be a way to do a full repost in WordPress but evidently I haven’t figured it out yet(I knew how in Blogger). Anyway, I read this on The Heroic Age and thought it sounded excellent. Then I clicked on the link for the current issue and thought it was even better. Thanks to Larry Swain for the original post.


Dear Colleagues,
I am writing to proudly announce the launch of Marginalia: A Review of Books in History, Theology and Religion. As publicity assistant to the Editorial Board at Marginalia, I would be grateful if you could pass along this notification to your institution’s press department and / or mailing list, as it will doubtless be of immense interest to students and academics across the disciplines of history, theology and religion. I also attach our latest press release.

Marginalia is an international review of academic literature from a range of disciplines along the nexus of history, theology and religion, providing timely, open-access reviews of the highest scholarly calibre. We hope to raise the standard of the academic book review, publishing only the most incisive and thoughtful reviews. Reviewers should expect their reviews in Marginalia to be easily discoverable by Google and other search engines, and so to have more visibility and accessibility than in some traditional print-based journals. We encourage reviewers to give careful thought not only to the content but also to the presentation of the review, and hope to see the academic review in theology and religion move closer to the standard of the Times Literary Supplement or the New York Review of Books.

Since Marginalia is a wholly devoted to the review of academic literature, we would also like to make a call for future contributions, the guidelines for which can be found here.

Finally, a walk-through of the website and introductions to our fine editorial board can be found on our Youtube channel.

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Posted by on February 11, 2013 in Books, Other Blogs


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AP European History Book Request Follow-up

A couple of weeks ago I posted a request for suggestions of books which might replace William Manchester’s A World Lit Only by Fire as an assigned textbook for students taking the Advanced Placement (AP) European History Course.

At the time I posted this I had not fully studied the details of the course, which would have provided a little more direction on what kind of materials would be useful. The AP European History Course, which is where Manchester is generally used, is designed to cover European History from 1450 to the present. In essence, little of it deals with the Middle Ages. This doesn’t stop Manchester from being a terrible choice for students to read, however it does change the type of texts which would be of most help. You can find out more about this course at The AP European History Course Website.

The AP Program is a very good thing and I completely support it. I’d just like to see something other than Manchester used for this course. One of the problems is that teachers have a hard time finding something students will read. They will read Manchester. Little wonder as it seems to have a focus on the seedy, raunchy side of life. And, at least for the Medieval Period, it’s largely a work of fiction. Hopefully we can come up with some good alternatives.

I haven’t received a great deal of response to this request to date but I want to recognize those who did contribute, even where that contribution was in response to my overly vague request and covered the entire Medieval period, not just the years from 1450. These books may have some usefulness for teachers researching appropriate materials to assign for the AP World History Course.

From Larry Swain, Bemidji State University:

The Making of the Middle Ages by Richard Southern

The Oxford History of Medieval Europe by George Holmes, editor

From me:
The Penguin History of Medieval Europe by Maurice Keen – I haven’t read this, just heard good things about it as an overview.

Larry was responding to my request for good books that provided an overview of the entire Medieval Period. However these are inexpensive and may find use, either in the European History or, more likely, the AP World History Course. At the very least, if someone has read Manchester and would like a more balanced view of the period, (I recently had an e-mail from a High School student making this very request) these are inexpensive, fairly readable options.

From Elizabeth Dachowski, Tennessee State University:

Before the Industrial Revolution: European Society and Economy, 1000-1700 by Carlo Cipolla

After the Black Death, Second Edition: A Social History of Early Modern Europe by George Huppert

Joan of Arc: Her Story by Régine Pernoud and Marie-Véronique Clin – This book includes primary source documents as well as short essays on various topics – Joan in Cinema, for example. These essays would make good starting points for paper topics.

Peasant Fires: The Drummer of Niklashausen by Richard Wunderli

Elizabeth was more familiar with the class. She felt that both Cippola and Huppert might make good overviews. She mentioned that Huppert had some issues but nothing on the scale of Manchester.

She also felt that for something like this, providing a “slice of life” might be better. Pernoud/Clin and Wunderli fit here and she felt some of Steven Ozment’s books might also work.

I hope to get more contributions as time goes on. For now I’ll attach this post as a link at the end of my Manchester review and try to keep updating it. Also, if anyone would like to provide a brief summary of any of these, I’d welcome it – I haven’t read any of them though I have read Pernoud’s Joan of Arc: By Herself and Her Witnesses and found it quite good – she links her narrative with a lot of source documents. As I mentioned in my Manchester review, beyond the content, I have a problem with assigning a book to AP History students that doesn’t footnote.

NOTE: This page is primarily for HS history teachers (and possibly some parents). I thought that the links would make for the simplest and most valuable use but if you prefer that I put together a proper citation list at the bottom of the page, I can do that as well. Just leave a comment or e-mail me.


Posted by on August 13, 2010 in Books


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