I always find it interesting how others perceive one’s own profession and it’s even more daunting at times when reading a book that mentions it. I have a master’s in medieval history (my primary area is the legality of war and the law of arms with a focus on 14th century England) and at some point I do have plans to get a PhD (it’s more of a personal goal than a need). Lucky for me I don’t encounter very many medievalists mentions, but once in a while I do and I have to scratch my head.
This one is from Jennifer Laam’s The Secret Daughter of the Tsar and I laughed so much because it was so odd to see a medievalist described in such away. Are we nuts? Maybe, but then I think it applies to all historians. In Laam’s defense, she said that line was paraphrased by an ex of hers in academia and “He said it with great love.”
But it’s this one that got me saying, “noooo!” It’s from Charles Finch’s The Last Enchantments.
Are we abstruse? Maybe in the eyes of others. Intelligent? I like to think so (I mean we do need to know Latin). Geeky? Aren’t all historians even lit majors geeks? Interested in Elvish and Aquinas? Well, no to Elvish and I’m more of an Augustine fan than Aquinas.
Honestly, I’m just happy we’re not depicted as SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) members or as people who spend their weekends playing Dungeons and Dragons. Not that there is anything wrong with that because I’ve met medievalists who are members of SCA and it’s always interesting what they specialize in, etc. And with regards to Dungeons and Drangons…well whatever floats your boat! I was once asked if I spent my weekends in the park “with the kids in capes.” Uh no.
Have you encountered your profession while reading? If so, what misconceptions irked you or was it pretty spot on?