30 June 2007

I passed!

Not only did I pass, but I passed well, with a B+. The quiz doesn't tell you which questions you missed but I suspect I missed physics-type questions and I answered correctly on biology, chemistry, astronomy, and geology. Physics is the only science I never took, either in high school or college.

Mingle2 Free Online Dating - Science Quiz


29 June 2007

Friday Cat Blogging with Pepper the Crazy Cat

Here I am, relaxing. Mom's not relaxing, though, she's working really hard. She's transcribing this messy document from 1619. Cats never work that hard. Geez. She wishes to remind you all that History Carnival #54 will be here on Sunday. Send in your nominations here!


28 June 2007

Help from the War Historian

Last fall, I taught a course on the American Revolution. Now I know aspects of the Revolution very well; I've read extensively in issues leading up to the Revolution, in great debates regarding the intellectual origins of the Revolution, in social issues and outcomes of the Revolution, in constitutional issues before, during, and after the Revolution, in the role of slavery, slaves, and free blacks in the Revolution, the participation of Indians on both sides of the conflict, the role of women, the Revolution's Atlantic aspects, and its effects on France, Haiti, and Spanish America. So, I know a lot about the Revolution.

But of course the Revolution was also a war. You'll note that my areas of expertise on the Revolution don't include the war. So, I found myself reading up. I ended up assigning the memoirs of Joseph Plumb Martin as well as the relevant chapters in Middlekauf's The Glorious Cause--the former I intended as a look at the experiences of an ordinary soldier and the latter as a detailed discussion of various campaigns and battles. It was difficult, to say the least, and I had some students who styled themselves experts on military history (these guys knew things like thesizes of guns and the types of uniforms). So I finally had to email the good Professor Grimsley and ask about some of the details.

This led to a dialogue on why professional historians seem to know so little military history. I suggested to Professor Grimsley that I wasn't 1) willfully ignorant, or 2) hostile towards military history. My own training is in social and cultural history, with a generous dab of intellectual and political history. Military history just never came up in my graduate training and now that I'm teaching, military history hangs around my neck like an albatross.

Professor Grimsley has now asked me some questions about how a trained historian who is largely unfamiliar with problems and issues in military history might learn:
  1. In what courses would you use military history?

  2. I can think of three courses in which I need to use military history.

    The first, as Mark notes, is a gimmee: the U.S. history survey. I'm teaching America to 1848 this fall, and I'm planning a lecture on warfare in colonial North America (in all its Anglo-Indian, Anglo-French permutations, but also as an introduction to militia cultures in Anglo-America), a lecture on the Revolution (which necessarily must be only one lecture), and then two hypothetical lectures (one of which might have to be cut because of time constraints): one on warfare against Indians from 1800-c. 1850, to complement discussion on removal, and another on the Mexican War.

    The second course is, of course, the American Revolution. I usually dedicate 9 class hours (about three weeks) to the war. I need to overhaul what I did last time and probably change out the readings. (I hate to lose Joseph Plumb Martin, but I might have to.)

    The third is my graduate readings course called "Readings in North American History, 1500-1800." I would love to incorporate some readings on military history for that period. If I can get my students more comfortable with some of the themes in early American history, they might not be as at sea when they start teaching as I am now.

  3. What is the optimum way to learn the material?

  4. This is a little less clear to me. I think the best way is almost certainly seminar-style, with in-depth readings and discussions that leave the participant ready to continue teaching herself. This is how I learned to learn in graduate school, and I think a week or two would be a great way to introduce neophytes to military history. What if you started something like an NEH seminar in the summer, geared towards trained historians with little or no military history background? I would be happy to read extensively in American military history (not just for the early period but for the whole shebang)--and heck, anyone who can explain to me why the Jamestown settlers had caltrops would be most welcome. :) From this kind of intensive introduction I would be comfortable branching out on my own.

  5. What would you like to take away from exposure to military history?

  6. This is indeed unknown territory for me, but like most academics, I hate not knowing about something. I realize one can't possibly learn it all, but I would like to have enough expertise to teach comfortably. I'd like to be able to answer the questions students are most likely to ask about military history. I hope that makes sense--I'd like to be conversant though not an expert. I don't expect to do research in military history (I've got a complicated research agenda already!).

Over to you, Mark!

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27 June 2007

A good baptism story

I was paging though Bishop Meade's remarkable and remarkably annoying two-volume antiquarian account of the Church of England in Virginia this afternoon when I came across this story in a footnote. Bishop Meade sets the scene by briefly describing a raid on Indians in Maryland led by Captain Giles Brent in 1675 in retaliation for the gory murder of an English settler on the frontier. A young boy, possibly the son of a chief, was captured.
"Of him a circumstance is related, showing that there was not only religion in those days, but superstition also. The boy lying in bed for ten days, as one dead, his eyes and mouth shut but his body warm, Captain Brent, who was a Papist, said that he was bewitched, and that he had heaerd baptism was a remedy for it, and proposed the trial. Colonel Mason answered that there was not minister in many miles. Captain Brent replied, 'Your clerk, Mr. Dobson, may do that office;' which was accordingly done by the Church of England Liturgy. Colonel Mason and Captain Brent stood godfathers, and Mrs. Mason godmother. The end of the story is, that the child, being eight years old, soon recovered."*

Now I've collected all sorts of documents about Maryland's Catholics, England's Protestants, and the Indians (with a few Quakers mixed in) in the years between the Restoration and the Glorious Revolution. It was a dangerous time for Protestants, who were besieged by heretics and heathens on all sides (or so they thought) and the end result was often forays into Maryland by rogue militia captains from Virginia to attack Catholics, Quakers, Indians, or anyone suspected of being Catholic, Quaker, or Indian. Maryland protested, and Virginia sometimes apologized. But this episode is one I've never run into: it's remarkably detailed, especially in terms of the liturgy used and the presence of godparents, and it seems to affirm a continuing belief among English Catholics and Anglicans on the efficacy of baptism as an exorcism. I would love to know more, and to read the actual source without Bishop Meade's commentary attached, but alas, like most nineteenth-century antiquarians, he does not indicate his source. How frustrating! I can affirm that it appeared in no county court records, and it isn't in the Calendar of State Papers. There are some official Virginia records that might contain this anecdote, but my real fear is that it is in Maryland's records, in which case finding it will become more difficult.

Incidentally, Captain Giles Brent was the son of Mary Kittomaquund, the daughter of the "Tayac of Maryland" (probably a Piscataway chief), who was baptized a Catholic in the 1630s and married off to the senior Giles Brent at the age of eleven or twelve, after the death of her parents. The Brent clan probably hoped to gain title to Piscataway-held lands by virtue of the marriage. She had at least two children before her death. I've written about her before, here.

* William Meade, Old Churches, Ministers, and Families of Virginia, 2 vols (Richmond, 1857; reprint 1992), I, 93.


22 June 2007

Friday Cat Blogging with Pepper the Crazy Cat

Mom says I don't belong up here, and she always lifts me down when I climb up. But the view is so grand! I can see the whole apartment. I can supervise Mom making her dinner. I can supervise Mom making my dinner. I can reach down and bat her head with my paws when she's washing dishes. It's great! I'm going to convince her to let me stay up here. Already, I can tell she's weakening. After all, she left me up here long enough to take my picture!


19 June 2007

Wherein the Historianess Makes a To-Do List

This summer, the Historianess must:

  • complete research on her Dictionary of Virginia Biography entry "Emanuel Driggus"

  • write her DVB entry "Emanuel Driggus"

  • complete revisions on her article "The Child Should be Made a Christian": Baptism, Race, and Identity in the Early Chesapeake"

  • finish the research for her conference paper "A Puritan Virginia? Rethinking English Identities in the Early Chesapeake, 1607-1644"

  • write said conference paper

  • write a book proposal and make some progress on getting a contract for the Amazing Mr. Book (otherwise known as From Potential Christians to Hereditary Heathens: Religion and Race in Early America, 1550-1750)

  • finish a book review

  • finish her syllabus for HIST 465 "From Roanoke to Jamestown"

  • finish her syllabus for HIST 117 "America to 1848"

  • catch up on her sleep

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18 June 2007

The Historianess as History Carnival Hostess

Yes, that's right! The 54th History Carnival is coming to Historianess on July 1. I'm looking for a few good history posts, so please send your nominations to rebecca_goetz at hotmail dot com, or use the handy submission form.

The above link also lists criteria for eligible posts. So, all historians and historianesses, please check your archives and your regular reads and send interesting historical posts my way!

15 June 2007

Friday Cat Blogging with Pepper the Crazy Cat

Here I am, just hangin' out. I'm real comfortable with my felineness. Meow!