Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer projects

So one of my summer projects (one for which the college is actually paying me, hurrah) is to get up to speed on Crusades scholarship for a course I'm teaching in the fall.

There is a lot of Crusades scholarship, folks. Hoo boy. I ordered a huge stack of books which I'm now skimming. Some I'll assign for class, and others I'll order for the library, whose collection in this area is not very current.

When I started this reading, I had only a vague idea of what I wanted to do with this class, and the process of reading has sharpened my ideas considerably. I have rejected several books for class assignments as being, to me, "too magisterial." I want my students to get a handle on what happened, but I don't want them to be too influenced by a single narrative that proclaims This Is What Happened. I am much more drawn to books that explain differing interpretations, that talk explicitly about how they handle sources, and that don't pretend to be the single definitive account of events.

I've winnowed my giant pile into rejects and books I want to take a second, closer look at. I'd also welcome suggestions.


Notorious Ph.D. said...

I teach crusades. Let's talk when I'm back from Puddletown. I'll trade you Crusades for Exotic Research Country.

tenthmedieval said...

Sourcebooks: Edward Peters's The First Crusade, in its second edition; also the obligatory Riley-Smith & Riley-Smith, Crusades: Ideal and Reality which your library probably already has. Textbook, or at least, guiding narrative account, now Thomas Asbridge's The Crusades: war for the Holy Land and Jonathan Phillips's Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades. Remind them that the whole Wisconsin History of the Crusades is online, and that it still covers some angles (especially the background of the Turks, Eastern Christianity and pilgrimage) that not much else does but that as it is now forty years old it will be obvious if they use it and nothing else. The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades is only good for the pictures, sadly. Er... and I'm out. Maybe some use?

tenthmedieval said...

Now that I re-read your post, I realise that the two narratives I've suggested may both hit the This is What Happened buffers. The Oxford Illustrated may actually serve you better for what you're doing (in as much as it's really very hard to understand what happened from reading it...). Also, it's worth knowing about a little reprint volume edited by Thomas Madden just called The Crusades: essential readings. Many of its readings are now quite old and it's much more interested in the First Crusade than the others but it collects a variety of useful perspectives that would otherwise be hard to get and it's fairly cheap. You may already have met all these, in which case I apologise.

clio's disciple said...

Not at all, very helpful suggestions. I hadn't yet looked at all of those.

Notorious, really don't worry too much about ERC, but we'll talk when you're back.