When was the last ‘witch’ executed in Europe? I have come to think that this question itself is unhelpful. Unhelpful in that – as specialists have long known – it corresponds very poorly to the shifting legal status of witchcraft between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. ‘Witches’ were still being prosecuted for witchcraft in Russia […]Read more "The Logic of Last"
In 1908, a regional newspaper carried a story about the criminal prosecution of a Parisian magician who had sold clients, among other things, a ‘fatal magnetic water’. One client wrote to the police: He sold me a bottle of ‘Fatal Water’ for fourteen francs so that I could kill the Emperor of Russia, against whom […]Read more "Fool’s Cunning"
This is a post for students. Many of you will recently have learned that the UCU – the union representing university staff – has called strike action starting in just a couple of weeks, in December 2021. I know some of you already support and understand the union position (in fact, a survey from the […]Read more "The Real Disruptors"
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"