Some light reading

Because I am in a sort of perverse ‘gap-year’ between the Masters and PhD, reading relevant academic work requires deliberate effort. Coursework and set writing deadlines force this reading on the active student but without that structure it is just too easy to slack off.
Part of my disciplined reading strategy (aside from using modern time-management style names for everything, the way I just did) is my ‘reading shelf’. I cleared some space on one of my shelves to collect books and a small stack of articles I should read in a timely fashion. Writing short summaries of reading helps as well, but only with retention, not the actual reading.

So what is on the shelf at the moment? Something of a mixed bag of books I have been labouring through for longer than I remember and some recent reading of debatable relevance.

Ann Blair, Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information Before the Modern Age (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010).

I picked this up at a conference last year — in total surprise — shocked that I had not heard of it before. Information management, as a facet of intellectual history, is a pet interest of mine and you don’t have to stretch much to get near my area of martial knowledge and elite interests.

Patricia A Cahill, Unto the Breach: Martial Formations, Historical Trauma, and the Early Modern Stage (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).

Cahill is a literary scholar specializing in the late Elizabethan stage and there are a few contextual points in her argument (at least up to about page 40, where I am at the moment) that could be treated with a bit more objectivity, or with greater historical awareness. But she is making an interesting argument about changing ideas about warfare and the body. This is not an easy read and Cahill perhaps assumes too much of her learned readers by using some heavy theoretical jargon. This is an academic monograph and the standards of style and presentation are different, but it can be a strain to see the actual argument behind the structured terminology. Also, Oxford seems to have decided to save a few cents on each book by forgoing a bibliography, leaving the citations to the footnotes. I hate that.

William Clark, Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006).

I have been trying to get through this book since 2009. Clark is a clear and readable writer; the topic is interesting, if a dry; the structure is clean and the language is accessible; but it is a big book, with lots of tiny words, on dense pages, and even if you exclude appendixes, notes, and index, from the 662 pages, the 476 that are left behind to read remain a difficult diet. I can not seem to read more than 3 pages a sitting. This book is the reading equivalent of brownie cake, or Christmas pudding. It is very filling.

Eugene R. Kintgen, Reading in Tudor England (Pittsburgh, PA.: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996).

Speaking of literary theorists who are heavy on jargon… Actually, this book is a little slice of academic gold, because the dense discussion of method is exactly the theoretical basis you need, and have on hand to cite, if you ever try to talk about readers. You can talk about books, about publication, about production, distribution, ownership, and even use, with some safety. Talking about how past readers read books is entirely different and although Kintgen is clear that there are limits to how far you can go in that direction he shows you how to get to that point safely.

John Mullan, How Novels Work (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).

This the easier read in the pile. Mullan wrote a series of columns for the Guardian and he uses the book to build and expand on that. It is an interesting read, even if the area of the popular novel tends towards the superficial or the pedantic.

I have a file full of articles, pulled from online and out of collections of essays, but there are too many to pick through at the moment. However, for the morbidly curious, here is the list as it was today:

Allmand, Christopher T. “Vegetius’ De Re Militari: Military Theory in Medieval and Modern Conception.” History Compass 9, no. 5 (2011): 397–409.

Ayton, Andrew. “Knights, Esquires and Military Service: The Evidence of the Armorial Cases Before the Court of Chivalry.” In The Medieval Military Revolution: State Society and Military Change in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, edited by Andrew Ayton and J. L. Price, 81–104. London: Tauris Academic Studies, 1995.

Bever, Edward. “The Critiques and The Realities.” Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 5, no. 1 (2010): 113–121.

Blair, Ann. “Note Taking as an Art of Transmission.” Critical Inquiry 31, no. 1 (2004): 85–107.

———. “Reading Strategies for Coping with Information Overload Ca. 1550-1700.” Journal of the History of Ideas 64, no. 1 (2003): 11–28.

Brainard, Ingrid. “The Role of the Dancing Master in 15th Century Courtly Society.” Fifteenth Century Studies 2 (1979): 21–44.

Buckman, Ty. “1590s London: Charting a Course Through Late Tudor Culture.” Working Papers on the Web 4 (2002).

Chambers, D. S. “A Condottiere and His Books: Gianfrancesco Gonzaga (1446-96).” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 70 (2007): 33–97.

Clark, Stuart. “One-Tier History.” Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 5, no. 1 (2010): 84–90.

Collins, David J. “Magic in the Middle Ages: History and Historiography.” History Compass 9, no. 5 (2011): 410–422.

Gillingham, John. “ ’Up With Orthodoxy!”: In Defence of Vegetian Warfare.” Journal of Medieval Military History 2 (2003): 149–158.

Heath, Peter. “War and Peace in the Works of Erasmus: A Medieval Perspective.” In The Medieval Military Revolution: State Society and Military Change in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, edited by Andrew Ayton and J. L. Price, 121–144. London: Tauris Academic Studies, 1995.

Hoppe, Harry R. “John Wolfe, Printer and Publisher, 1579-1601.” The Library xiv, no. 3. 4 (1933): 241–288.

kirkwood, A. E. M. “Richard Field, Printer, 1589-1624.” The Library xii, no. 1. 4 (1931): 1–39.

Knight, Jeffrey Todd. “Furnished for Action: Renaissance Books as Furniture.” Book History 12 (2009): 37–73.

Lawrence, David R. “Reappraising the Elizabethan and Early Stuart Soldier: Recent Historiography on Early Modern English Military Culture.” History Compass 9, no. 1 (2011): 16–33.

Liu, Yin. “The Challenge of an Ancestor of the Earl of Warwick: The Guines Pas D’armes of 1413.” Opuscula: Short Texts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance 1, no. 4 (2011): 1–10.

Machan, Tim William. “Editing, Orality, and LAte Middle English Texts.” In Vox Intexta: Orality and Textuality in the Middle Ages, edited by A. N. Doane and Carol Braun Pasternack, 229–245. Madison, Wis.: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1991.

Morillo, Stephen. “Battle Seeking: The Contexts and Limits of Vegetian Strategy.” The Journal of Medieval Military History i (2003): 21–41.

Murray, Rowena. “What Can I Write About?: The Rhetorical Question for PhD Students and Their Supervisors.” Working Papers on the Web 8 (2008).

Newman, William R. “What Have We Learned from the Recent Historiography of Alchemy?” Isis 102, no. 2 (2011): 313–321.

Pearsall, R. L. “Some Observations on Judicial Duels, as Practiced in Germany.” Archaeologia xxix (1842): 348–361.

Raylor, Timothy. “Thomas Hobbes and ‘The Mathematical Demonstration of the Sword’.” Seventeenth Century 15, no. 2 (2000): 175–198.

Rogers, Clifford J. “The Vegetian ‘Science of Warfare’ in the Middle Ages.” The Journal of Medieval Military History 2 (2003): 1–19.

Shrader, Charles R. “The Influence of Vegetius’ De Re Militari.” Military Affairs 45, no. 4 (1981): 167–172.

Sørensen, Jesper. “Magic as a State of Mind? Neurocognitice Theory and Magic in Early Modern Europe.” Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 5, no. 1 (2010): 108–112.

Verkamp, Bernard J. “Moral Treatement of Returning Warriors in the Early Middle Ages.” Journal of Religious Ethics 16, no. 2 (1988): 223–249.

Webb, Henry J. “Thomas Digges, an Elizabethan Combat Historian.” Military Affairs 14, no. 2 (1950): 53–56.

This will keep me busy for a while.


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