A.Y. Jackson and the art of violence

Le Déluge, Nicolas Poussin. Collection: The Louvre The summer of 1909 was a collision of the traditional and the modern for A.Y. Jackson. Whether in Europe or Canada, as an artist he was persistently attracted to what he called the “picturesque,” which invariably meant preindustrial rusticity and gentle decay. He complained that Dordrecht “is a … Continue reading A.Y. Jackson and the art of violence

What’s in a name?

The twitterverse and media had all sorts of fun with the boys’ and girls’ names registered in Alberta in 2018. Released in January 2019 under the province’s open government policy, the lists of baby names included some real, well, horrors. Who names their son “Despot”? Who names their daughter “Anger”? What kind of marriage ceremony … Continue reading What’s in a name?

Life after academia: a status report

This past week, I started retooling my online presence, both on this website and on Twitter. I made the changes after a lot of reflection and with some misgivings over what I was doing. While not dramatic, I had decided to reduce the prominence of my academic qualifications and accomplishments. On Twitter, for example, my … Continue reading Life after academia: a status report

Columbus, Indians, and the Guanches

When Christopher Columbus strode ashore in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492, he famously called the indigenous people he met “Indians.” The main talking points of his legacy are still the consequences of his arrival for the people who bear that incongruous label: millions would suffer and die, and cultures would struggle to endure the … Continue reading Columbus, Indians, and the Guanches

Microbiography: Turn over all stones

In my blog post on book breaking (and the version published by Slate), I wrote of two items that ought to belong in an academic historian’s tool kit: narrative and microbiography. Narrative requires a blog post of its own (but no, I did not mean writing fancy sentences and dumbing down serious work for the … Continue reading Microbiography: Turn over all stones

Pseudohistorians claim scholars are hostile to innovative ideas. Do they have a point?

Spend any time (it won’t take very long) listening to or reading the words of people in the pseudohistory and pseudoarchaeology worlds, and you will encounter a standard riposte to scholarly objections to their theories and evidence. The scholarly world is a closed shop that suppresses innovative ideas of outsiders—even of its own accredited members—in … Continue reading Pseudohistorians claim scholars are hostile to innovative ideas. Do they have a point?