Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Student of History

Yesterday at a favorite blog of mine there was a post on How to be Professor Awesome, PhD. This appealed to me not from an advice perspective, but from the perspective of someone who is a member of the public who might attend lectures given by professors. I read it especially for descriptive words, to figure out what Professor Awesome, PhD would use to describe folks like me. For the most part he is describing the audience at a lecture that is open to the public, so “audience” or “audience member” work but I’m interested in the ways to describe us as those interested in history, but not of the establishment. Right at the beginning he is talking about “popular outreach” and “popular medievalists”. I don’t generally call myself a popular historian, because I do not have a degree in popular history (they do exist.) When addressing snobby professors, Professor Awesome, PhD described us as: “the plebs who are interested in your scholarship” I’m cool with being one of the common people of uncommon interest, but if I described myself that way to non-reenactors, I would need to do a lot of explaining and if I told that to reenactors they would think I reenact Roman times. Interesting food for thought, but much more useful for the blog entry’s intended purpose.

This morning on the radio there was an interview with Gen. David Petraeus. The host, Renee Montagne decribed Gen. Petraeus as a student of history, “and “quite a serious one.” ‘I ruminated on that descriptive phrase through quite a bit of my drive to work. When googling the phrase I’ve discovered that President Obama has used it to describe himself, and that bloggers use it with some frequency.

I’m not a historian, in that I am not paid to disseminate history and I do not have any advanced degrees. I am not an academic since I am neither a matriculated student nor a professor of any kind. I reenact history, but don’t necessarily call myself a reenactor, since I don’t recreate battles, and don’t do the Civil War or Revolutionary War. In the Podcast Stephen and I describe ourselves and our listeners as Living Historians, but we’ve never tried to define it, and I’m not sure that most people would know what I meant if I used it in the course of conversation. I certainly do like learning about history, so I feel it is fair to say that I am a student of history but does that really go far enough? Maybe for conversations with most people, it does.

No comments:

Post a Comment