After I reacquainted myself with my sewing machine, learned a bit more fundamental sewing skills, and finally understood how to work from a pattern, I spent about a year filling in my wardrobe with everything I’d been missing. I’m still in process with some things, including some everyday shirts, but once the process of making my own clothes got kind of mundane, I started making clothes for other people. And after making the same dress for the third time, I learned what I already knew about myself – I don’t like repetitive activities. So, armed with pretty good sewing skills at this point, a new project started to tug at me. A medieval outfit.Read More
Back in 2019, while I was constantly on research trips, I started watching a lot of youtube. And while I was doing that, I also decided to pick up crocheting. Since I hate reading kitting patterns, I had no earthly idea how to approach a crochet pattern, and so I also started watching crochet pattern videos on youtube. This combination led me to the world of historical costuming videos, or costube. Since I started watching, costube has become a much bigger phenomenon, to the point that last summer the costube community was able to host an entire conference online where individual virtual sessions were attended by thousands of people at a time. Inundating myself with videos of hand sewing and pattern cutting got me to slowly come back to my old sewing hobby. I spent a lot of time as a teenager involved in various sewing ventures, mostly related to the renfaire and my school’s drama department. My friend N and I spent many weekends in high school hand-sewing costumes while watching Disney movies (we were really wild). But I was mostly self-taught and I had a really hard time making wearable clothing, so my hobby fell by the wayside. But since N still sews and started making herself some very cool wearable pieces right around the time I began watching all these youtube videos, I dipped my toes back into sewing at first, and then plunged in.Read More
This is almost more of a general PhD update than a dissertation update, but I thought I needed to write something about my work since it’s been a while.
My dissertation is extremely close to being done. I feel like I’ve had a full draft of this thing for years, but maybe it’s only been since September? Still a long time. Now my draft is really a full draft – there are no big gaps anymore or sections without footnotes. There’s one piece of Chapter 3 that I’m still writing – an analysis that only occurred to me recently after getting feedback in a seminar. But most of my work at this point is polishing. In fact, it’s complete enough that I was able to send the entire thing to a hiring committee, which brings me to update #2…
I’ve been interviewing for a job. I won’t say where, but it’s a tenure-track job in my field, which at this point is a unicorn for PhDs, since there are so few jobs this year at all. I’m incredibly lucky that this even exists, and even luckier that I’ve managed to get anywhere in the application process. The more I learn about this department, the more I want the job, but it’s very much out of my hands at this point. I will say that the interview process during a global pandemic is very strange. My first-round interview was not so unusual, since those have increasingly been video interviews anyway. But this week I did my teaching demo by zoom, and my next interview isn’t for another two weeks because of scheduling conflicts. If nothing else, it gives me a lot of downtime to prepare for each individual interview. It also might make my job talk a bit easier, because I won’t have to memorize anything.
If I don’t get a job in academia, I might end up in project management. This was an interesting thought experiment that’s actually become quite appealing. Rather than take the bad advice of just about everyone in academia that a good alternative if I can’t find a job as a professor is to go into publishing or freelance writing, I thought a bit more abstractly about my skills. Yes, writing is a skill. But I don’t have to be a writer or editor to use writing. The biggest skill I’ve developed as an academic has been project management – taking a large, complex project and breaking it up into smaller pieces with actionable components. I’ve even learned how to manage a group project over several years. Since that’s a role, not an industry, my options are much broader and I can still try to find something interesting rather than resigning myself to a soul-crushing job. My project manager job search is currently on hold, though, while I’m working full time on the academic job opportunity.
My spare-time academic project is now provisionally up and running! The group project I mentioned is called the Medievalist Toolkit, and we’ve been working since 2017 to create a public set of resources for education on the Middle Ages. We now have a website, medievalisttoolkit.org, with our mission statement, some of our work and our contact info. Enjoy!
I can’t say that ancient cuisine sounds particularly exciting, even for someone like me. But I was surprised earlier this week when, after watching this video from the Historical Italian Cooking research group, I felt inspired to make a variation on an ancient Roman frittata.Read More
The US had an attempted coup on Wednesday.Read More
In 2019, I spent a cumulative three months at home. And I wrote about it here on this blog. It’s a big part of the reason I started writing here. That year was incredibly trying. I was constantly isolated and moving around. I wasn’t able to form new relationships and I was constantly in new places. I was often living in a single room by myself without a real kitchen and I had a very small budget for food. When I wasn’t working, I was binging CosTube and BreadTube, learning to crochet, and playing video games. I could only interact with most of the people I knew, including my infant children, through phone calls and videos. That year, it turned out, was a rehearsal.Read More
It probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that coffee sales are down as a result of the pandemic. Like makeup and gasoline, coffee is less in demand when people aren’t leaving their houses, and like the restaurant industry as a whole, coffee shops often rely on foot traffic or at the very least gathering indoors, both of which are currently discouraged. This is a good moment, as coffee is a little less present in our lives, to question why coffee is such a part of particularly American culture and whether it should be.Read More
Not so much writing this week for a variety of reasons, so now is a good time to remind you that you can find me on Instagram (and Facebook). I post shorter thoughts, links to interesting history and science news, and food photos. I just recorded a few short videos on color in medieval art, the first of which is now live on IGTV. Enjoy!
As a progressive in 2020, you’d have to be willfully ignorant to think that there are no problems with Thanksgiving. But unlike, say, the former Columbus Day, this holiday isn’t just a day off. For a lot of Americans, myself included, this day has been one of the most important yearly events of family gathering for their entire lives. Is there a way to keep that going, or should we let Thanksgiving retire?Read More
There is a conflict bubbling between professional and amateur historians over directly addressing current social issues when talking about history. On one side, people who enjoy hearing about topics like the ins and outs of the Roman Empire claim that there is an unbiased way to present history, without judgement from the present. On the other side, people who write the stories of these topics claim that it’s important to understand the complexity of the past and that all history is biased. I’m not going to make any pretense toward a both sides argument here. History is biased and political, and everyone needs to know that.Read More