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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?

Book breaking, and book mending

Ship breaking in Bangladesh. Source: http://www.travelyourassoff.com/2012/01/abandon-ship-chittagong-ship-breaking.html In January 2018, Karin Wulf, a history professor at William and Mary and director of the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, wrote an instalment for her blog, Vast Early America, entitled “Efficient Reading”. Professor Wulf tossed a lifeline to doctoral students everywhere struggling with the overwhelming impossibility … Continue reading Book breaking, and book mending

Shingwauk’s Reading: Dighton Rock and Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s Troubled Ethnology

Excerpt from Chapter 7 of The Place of Stone In the summer of 1839, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, the superintendent of Indian affairs for the Michigan territory, arrived at his post at Michilimackinac, the island on the strait between lakes Michigan and Huron. Schoolcraft had been active in ethnology and philology in the United States for … Continue reading Shingwauk’s Reading: Dighton Rock and Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s Troubled Ethnology

Double Double: Chapter 3

Tim’s Tale: From hockey sticks to stir sticks In September 2011, I walked into a co-branded outlet of Cold Stone Creamery and Tim Hortons on West 42rd, just west of Times Square in midtown Manhattan, and ordered a medium coffee. The server surprised me by handing me a cup held in a sleeve, which you … Continue reading Double Double: Chapter 3

The Race to the New World: Excerpt

  On November 4, 1494, Nürnberg’s Jerome Münzer ascended the bell tower of Seville’s Cathedral of the Virgin Mary. It had been built in the late twelfth century as the minaret of Seville’s great mosque, when the city was the capital of the Muslim empire of the Maghreb, which included North African territories from present-day … Continue reading The Race to the New World: Excerpt

Rewriting History: Alwyn Ruddock and John Cabot

A shorter version of this story was published by Canada’s History in April 2010. I also wrote about Ruddock and her Cabot research in The Race to the New World On February 17, 2006, a 418-word obituary for Alwyn Amy Ruddock appeared in The Guardian. Written by Edith Emma Mason, a former colleague in the … Continue reading Rewriting History: Alwyn Ruddock and John Cabot

Beardmore: The Middle Claim

Excerpted from Beardmore: The Viking Hoax that Rewrote History, by Douglas Hunter, published Sept. 2018 by McGill-Queen’s University Press. On the hot summer night of 16 July 1934, a Canadian National Railways (CNR) train clattering through the boreal gloom of northern Ontario was brought to a sharp halt about four miles southwest of the whistle … Continue reading Beardmore: The Middle Claim

Was New France Born in New England?

One of the enduring curiosities of early Canadian history is what Samuel de Champlain, routinely celebrated as Canada’s founding father, was even doing in eastern North America when he first arrived in 1603. From his initial appearance on the St. Lawrence River in that year, until his departure from Acadia in 1607 as the Port … Continue reading Was New France Born in New England?