The votes are in, and I am delighted to inform you: no, that is not a witch hunt! Great news! This is the correct response to all discussion of ‘modern witch hunts’. To every example from your life and from public debate that you want to point to. Well, every example except the actual witch […]Read more "No, That is Not a Witch Hunt"
I’ve been looking for online tools to help students with writing. There’s some brilliant stuff out there for free already. I’ll certainly be recommending the Hemingway app, which looks at how complex and difficult blocks of text are. To be honest I may need to get used to using it myself: it scored a sample […]Read more "I AIn’t Worried About Human Redundancy Just Yet…"
Academic history writing is not emotion-less. Academics often consciously express – or evoke – anger, sadness, regret, or hope in their writing. But when it comes to tone, how many academics write humourously? My thoughts have been drawn back to this after I found the following image and reposted it on Twitter. Why do I […]Read more "Punching back"
A sentence fragment is a phrase wearing the clothing of a sentence. It comes with the correct capital letter at the start, and a full stop at the end. But it is not a sentence. Why? Because it does not have a subject (a noun or pronoun) and an active verb. Like this. That fragment […]Read more "Fragments of a sentence"
In June 1883 Madame Pasaz was called as a witness in the assize court of the Basses-Pyrénées in southwestern France. In her testimony, she lifted the veil on a type of encounter that I have been struggling to study in detail: divination using cards. Here is what she told the court, as reported in several […]Read more "Murder on the cards"
In an exciting development, I am pleased to bring you an exclusive pre-print extract of my latest co-authored article for The Totally Real Not Made Up Journal of Folkloristic Imperialism. (It may make sense to take note of this first, and that economists have, errr, what we can call ‘form’ with this bullshit). In this […]Read more "A New Universal Theory of Economics"
Is there anything worse than writing conclusions? Even beginnings are easier, I find, than summing up, because I can trick myself into starting by telling myself ‘I’m just taking some notes‘. ‘I’ll put that quotation I like as an epigram.’ And don’t get me wrong. I love reading conclusions. What academic doesn’t? I could never […]Read more "Inconclusion"
‘Do we we spend enough time reading historians for how they write? Not their methods, or their arguments, but simply how they put a sentence together.’ This is the question I asked in a short post on ‘Radical Grammar‘, which appeared yesterday in Rachel Moss’s new mini-series on ‘radical historical writing’ on History Workshop Online. […]Read more "Radical Revision"
I recently tried out some new thoughts on what it means to ‘believe’ in witchcraft at the first of two online workshops on ‘The Decline of Magic?’ I argued that – when it comes to witchcraft – ‘statements about belief are not necessarily good evidence of belief. There are grounds to be sceptical even of what individuals […]Read more "Belief as Action, Belief as Event"
One of the reasons I hate reading in the media about the ‘resurgence’ of interest in occultism and modern witchcrafts is the way that coverage revisits the same old tired stereotypes. People who consult fortune-tellers are deluded! They buy in to complex pseudo-scientific theories of mystical causation! Their practices can be explained through the social […]Read more "The Many Faces of Tarot"