Encountering Your Profession in Books

March 13, 2014 Musings 5

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.

In many ways, this pretty sums up what most medievalists go through (credit belongs to whoever put it together):

Have you encountered your profession while reading? If so, what misconceptions irked you or was it pretty spot on?

5 Responses to “Encountering Your Profession in Books”

  1. Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity

    First off – WOW. I am so envious of your profession. It sounds ridiculously cool and badass and just AWESOME. *fist bump*
    Anyway, now that my fangirling over your profession has ended… XD
    I’m a scientist, and more specifically a biologist (marine + wildlife). In general, scientists are always portrayed as skeptical or kind of boring, or a mixture of both. I find this sad. All the students I went through university with were some of the wackiest and craziest people I have ever met. We definitely aren’t all skeptics – I mean I am the biggest fantasy lover that I personally know – and we aren’t boring.
    Of course I am generalising here, but scientists are always either evil or boring. The forensics and chemists always get the more colourful personalities.
    OH and I swear in books, scientists/biologists are like CRAZY intelligent, and they simply know EVERYTHING about their profession. That’s kind of unrealistic, as well. We aren’t all Einstein (of course there are ridiculously intelligent scientists, just like in every other field), and our memory retention is exactly the same as everyone else’s. I don’t know why we’re portrayed as having crazy good memories. *shrug* I guess it’s a compliment, of sorts!
    Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity recently posted…Book Review: Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie LuMy Profile

  2. anna@herding cats & burning soup

    Mine’s in books fairly often and hardly ever right at all. I own an animal rescue so any in the rescue/veterinary world. I really don’t like reading them. They never go about talking negatively about them really (some do make us out to be a touch eccentric but that’s kinda true lol) they just are so far off base with it it’s annoying. Using wrong words, things we’d never do, etc. The only one I’ve read that got it right was Jaci Burton in her recent series. Totally spot on. I was really impressed. Not sure if she has family/friend who is in rescue/vet world or just researched the heck out of it.
    anna@herding cats & burning soup recently posted…Interview w/ Jennifer James–we’re getting drunk….on cookies! Woot! + giveawayMy Profile

  3. BarefootMedStudent

    I’m a medical student, and I love encountering my profession in books… sometimes. Obviously stories that are specifically medical I usually enjoy. But then, for example, I was very fond of the Healers in Patrick Ness’ The Knife of Never Letting Go.

    Conversely, I was really annoyed with the way Vee’s father in Slide and Impostor by Jill Hathaway. He’s a Ped Surgeon, and the author writes about him having a “very busy” day in theater. Turns out he’s operating on a case of polydactyly – not a long or complicated surgery AT ALL. I was so annoyed. I think the problem is that medicine and surgery are so ubiquitous in our lives that authors tend to think they don’t have to research it specifically.

    Anyway. Your profession sounds awesome. Have you read Tell the Wolves I’m Home? The main character in it is obsessed with medieval history!
    BarefootMedStudent recently posted…The Interns vs. The Student InternsMy Profile

  4. Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia

    This is one of the great things about blogging – the interesting things you learn about people that have NOTHING to do with books! You definitely should get your PhD, and then you should change your site to DrLiteraryEtc.com 🙂

    I have a funny little story for you. Back in college, when I was more interested in partying than getting an education, I took a class in Ancient History to fulfill one of the requirements for my degree. My idea was that since it was ANCIENT history, it would have to be an easier class than, say, Modern American history, since it was so OLD that everything must be vague, i.e. no dates. (Yeah, that’s a bit embarrassing.) But the class was fascinating, and the professor was one of the best I had. He was so passionate, and after college, I read several articles on him about archaeological digs that he did. Anyway, my theory that this would be an easy class was a bust, but I gained so much from it.

    My degree was in accounting, and I’m happy to say that I do NOT come across that in my reading often. 🙂
    Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday # 45: My Spring TBRMy Profile

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