Coral Columns

Academics all live in an Ivory Tower, disconnected from the real world, where we think about pointless problems like whether people in the past could smell colours, which we then turn into pointless articles in journals called things like ‘We are the Experts, na na na na na na!’ And then no-one reads them anyway […]

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On Being a Crappy Historian

Earlier this week I was sitting in an archive staring at a big fat pile of nothing. I had travelled a long way to research a specific case of witchcraft in Normandy in 1831 which particularly interested me. In fact, I’d emailed the archive many months before to ask if they had any information about […]

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Style Notes (II): Adam Thorpe

Crafting metaphors is dangerous for historians. They may enrich prose, illustrating and amplifying meaning, making ideas seem real and concrete, but when a historian develops and grows a metaphor, they are at risk of giving life to a distortion. Clarification and illustration fade into simplification and emplotment. The metaphors we use rarely come to us ready […]

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The Academic Careers Arms Race

This post has been brewing a long time, and it comes from an angry place: I am worried about how academic careers have changed, and continue to change. I would argue there is something like an arms race going on at the lower levels of the academic career ladder, and this is most definitely a Bad […]

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