@eharlitzkern@historians.social avatar

eharlitzkern

@eharlitzkern@historians.social

Historian and freelance writer. I teach historiography, epistemology, and ancient, medieval, and early-modern history at FIU. I blog on The Boomerang. I write on a book about the Codex Gigas (the Devil's Bible). Pro-wrestling fan. Exophonic. 🇸🇪🇺🇸

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eharlitzkern , to histodons
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When studying the Viking Age, one decision that needs to be made is how to relate to the sagas. Are they historical sources and can be used? Or are they literature and can't be used? Usually, my students land on the side of yes, despite all their problems, the sagas can be used. But this time around, through critical analysis, my students declared that the sagas can't be used. This is great. But, this also means that the students have declared one of our textbooks useless.
@histodons

eharlitzkern OP ,
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@VolkerBach @histodons The debate is old but it is still a binary choice among medievalists and scholars of the Viking Age. Reading the sagas for information about the Viking Age is like reading Outlander for information about the 18th century, to be blunt.

Yes, classicists read Homer all the damn time. But historians don't.

eharlitzkern OP ,
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@smagnussen @VolkerBach @histodons And on top of that, the Christian influence, and to a certain extent a Greek influence as well, muddles the content further.

What really bothers me, though, is when historians only include a brief mention buried in the introduction of their problems as sources, and then write an entire book using them as if they are equal to other historical documents.

eharlitzkern OP ,
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@annavirrpanna @histodons The way I see it, the confusion comes from the fact that medievalists outside of Scandinavia incorporate the Viking Age into the Middle Ages, although Viking Age and medieval Scandinavia are different societies. In Sweden, e.g., which is where I got my degree, I didn't do any work on Vikings b/c that is the purview of archaeologists, mainly. Viking Age information about Vikings comes from runic inscriptions, artifacts, and testimonies from those who encountered them.

eharlitzkern OP ,
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@annavirrpanna @histodons Yes, so Scandinavian scholars work with archaeology and runology. Scholars in other countries read the sagas as if they are history because that is what's available in translation. Very little of the Scandinavian archaeological research is available in translation. And few international scholars know a Scandinavian language.

eharlitzkern OP ,
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@peterbrown @annavirrpanna @VolkerBach @histodons Wow! That's the complete opposite of what I remember from being in Scotland during the Braveheart craze. 😁

But you make a very good point about Outlander. And this is why it is such a good analogy when talking about the Icelandic sagas. If Outlander were the last books left in the world about the 18th century, we would be forced to decide whether or not they should be used as historical sources.

eharlitzkern , to histodons
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You know you're a historian when the immigration officer accidentally asks you "Why did the Colonists fight for the British?" on your naturalization civics exam, and you catch yourself before launching into a discussion about the Colonists fighting for the British and instead ask her to please repeat the question, and then you bungle the answer like a nervous freshman because your professional self and your immigrant self are colliding inside your head.
@histodons

eharlitzkern , to academicchatter
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Submitted a work order to Facilities because there is a loud white noise in one of my classrooms. I am now being CC'd on every email as my work order is being passed around among people and departments and no one wants to do the job. And for every email, more and more people are being CC'd. 😁

I mean, who needs entertainment? Also, this explains SO MUCH about what is going on (or not going on) at this university.

@academicchatter

eharlitzkern OP ,
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@moritz_negwer @academicchatter I have no expectations that this problem will actually be solved, at this point. Especially after reading one of the emails where the person literally said that they had never heard this complaint before and as far as they know no changes had been done to the classroom. And then they mentioned a random department as the one responsible.

eharlitzkern , to antiquidons
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"The strength of HOW TO BE lies exactly here, in the acknowledgment of new ideas and new developments happening in the encounters, the borderlands, and on the peripheries."

This week on The Boomerang, I discuss Adam Nicolson's new book HOW TO BE. LIFE LESSONS FROM THE EARLY GREEKS (FSG, 2023). Enjoy!

@bookstodon @antiquidons @histodons

https://ehkern.com/2024/01/19/greek-philosophy-and-the-mediterranean-system/

eharlitzkern , to histodon
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Queen Margrethe II of Denmark abdicated today. Denmark has a new head of state in King Frederik X and a new queen in Mary. Although different dynasties have sat on the Danish throne through the centuries, the Danish monarchy can be traced in an unbroken line to the Viking Age and the reign of Harold Bluetooth (911–985), making the Danish monarchy one of the oldest monarchies in the world.
@histodons @histodon @medievodons

https://www.cnn.com/2024/01/14/europe/denmark-royals-frederik-mary-proclamation-king-queen-intl/index.html

eharlitzkern , to academicchatter
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This looks to be an amazing conference. Women of the Viking World, University of Liverpool, August 27–28, 2024. CfP is happening now. Deadline: March 2, 2024.

http://www.vikingagewomen.com/

@academicchatter @histodons @histodon

eharlitzkern , to academicchatter
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eharlitzkern , to histodon
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Today is my Mastodon anniversary! Happy 1 year in the Fediverse to me! 🥳

I'm glad to be here. Glad to be among so many birdwatchers, chattering academics, medievodons, histodons, and other awesome people doing awesome stuff.

Thank you to the creators and moderators of historians.social for creating this space.

@histodons @histodon @academicchatter @medievodons

eharlitzkern , to histodon
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This is 🍌🍌🍌🍌. A grave field from the Viking Age has been discovered in the middle of the city of Gothenburg. Right in between Sweden's largest outdoor stadium and the public bath with the Olympic pool. There is so much city activity at this location that it's hard to comprehend that these graves were somehow overlooked...? (Article in Swedish)

@histodons @histodon @academicchatter @medievodons

https://fof.se/artikel/vikingagravar-i-goteborg-overraskar-arkeologerna/

eharlitzkern OP ,
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@garius @histodons @histodon @academicchatter @medievodons You might be on to something. I mean, the stadium is called Ullevi Stadium and the public bath house is called the Valhalla Bath. The graves were pretty much hiding in plain sight, weren't they? 😁

eharlitzkern , to histodons
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Shout out to the ILL department at FIU. Once again they have come through. I found this book in the catalog of the National Library in Sweden. Placed a request through FIU’s ILL, thinking that they would not be able to get it, or it would take forever. Three days later, I get a notification that the book has arrived. 🙌🏼

The fact that they got the book to me from UC Berkley in only a few days is 🍌🍌🍌.
@academicchatter @histodons

eharlitzkern , to histodon
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Oldest ship's grave in Scandinavia has been excavated in northern Norway (the region of Trøndelag, to be precise). The grave reveals that Scandinavians were building ships large enough for long-distance travels already around the year 700. This find also pushes the burial custom of burying people in ships significantly back in time. (Article in Norwegian.)

@histodons @histodon

https://www.nrk.no/trondelag/skandinavias-eldste-kjente-skipsgrav-er-pa-leka-i-trondelag-1.16633376

eharlitzkern , to histodon
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Buckle in gilded silver depicting Odin sacrificing his eye for wisdom at Mimer's well. When the fastening needle is opened, Odin's face dips forward and the sacrifice is made. The buckle comes from a major sacrificial site in Sweden dated to 0–500 CE. Together with other discoveries at the site, this buckle demonstrates that the Viking Age as a time period has little bearing, that Scandinavians did practice human sacrifice, and that Norse mythology is very old.
@histodons @histodon

Photo of silver gilded buckle with a human face over a cup. Source: Västergötlands Museum.

eharlitzkern , to histodon
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Come work with me!

The Department of History at FIU is hiring! Tenure track open rank position in Modern European history.

Please share widely, and please do apply if this is in your field. The Department of History is a group of rabble rousers, who don’t take anything lying down. In other words, you’d be working with some really good and smart people. @histodons @histodon @academicchatter

https://careers.historians.org/jobs/19377196/tenure-track-open-rank-professor-in-modern-european-history

eharlitzkern , to academicchatter
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The day when a four-hour teaching prep and grading session turns into having to restart the office computer once an hour because it keeps crashing on you.

@academicchatter

eharlitzkern , to bookstodon
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This week on The Boomerang. My interview for Foreword Reviews with historian Gary Scott Smith of Grove City College about his book on how Hillary Rodham Clinton's Methodist faith has informed her politics. Enjoy!

@bookstodon

https://ehkern.com/2023/10/27/interview-with-gary-scott-smith-for-foreword-reviews/

eharlitzkern , to histodon
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After the second day of the professional development workshop, I can with confident state the following:

  1. Teachers make the worst students.

  2. Especially when those teachers are also historians.

😎

@academicchatter @histodons @histodon

eharlitzkern , to ai
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eharlitzkern , to academicchatter
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Every morning, before campus comes alive and people are everywhere, this little anole sits on this little coconut shell and looks out over the turtle pond. @academicchatter

Anole lizard sitting on an old coconut shell surrounded by grass and looking out over a pond.

eharlitzkern , to histodon
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3D-scanning reveal that Thyra, Harold Bluetooth's mother, commissioned several runestones and consequently wielded more power in Viking Age Denmark than previously believed. Together with her husband Gorm, Thyra facilitated Harold Bluetooth's consolidation of power. This revision makes sense in the Danish and Scandinavian historical context where claims to power were both patrilineal and matrilineal.

@histodons @histodon

https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/indland/vikingedronningen-thyra-rykker-op-paa-siden-af-gorm-den-gamle-forskning-afsloerer

eharlitzkern , to histodon
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Watched the movie THE VIKINGS (1958) starring Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Ernest Borgnine, and Janet Leigh.

Let's put it this way. THE VIKINGS did better with the knowledge about Vikings available in 1958 than THE NORTHMAN did with the knowledge available in 2022. In other words, I enjoyed this movie a lot more than I expected.

@histodons @histodon

eharlitzkern OP ,
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@JoeQuinlan @histodons @histodon It has aged surprisingly well.

eharlitzkern , to academicchatter
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Based on what I witnessed this week, I have this to say: When a student asks if you can please reopen the assignment because she misunderstood your instructions and you say that you will open the assignment for 3 minutes and your face reveals that you think you’re being generous while at the same time you ignore the student swallowing hard so she won’t start crying in front of you, you are not a good educator. You are a cruel human being. @academicchatter

eharlitzkern OP ,
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@DrSuzanne @academicchatter Absolutely. I agree.

eharlitzkern , to histodon
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This week on The Boomerang. Enjoy!

"In The Manuscripts Club, Christopher de Hamel introduces us to a group of people who dedicated their lives to collecting medieval manuscripts. In other words, nerds."

@histodons @histodon @bookstodon

https://ehkern.com/2023/08/25/a-synchronous-celebration-of-the-medieval-manuscript-nerd/

eharlitzkern , to academicchatter
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My swanky new office. That I can’t get into because I don’t have a key. And even if I could get in, there’s no desk. But, after a windowless existence for many years, it is nice to finally see some daylight. 😆 @academicchatter @histodons

eharlitzkern , to ai
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You can't hit the breaks when you're going uphill.

After playing around with ChatGPT, I have decided to allow my history students to use AI. Working out ways to stop them from using it will only create more stress and work than it's worth. I have therefore included instructions in the syllabus about how they can and cannot use AI.

And so I set sail on uncharted waters towards the endless horizon, like generations of intrepid explorers before me.

@histodons

eharlitzkern OP ,
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@Ruddiman @histodons Sure! Please let me know if you have any comments or feedback. This really is uncharted territory, so anything that can make the policy better is most appreciated.

eharlitzkern OP ,
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@Ruddiman @histodons Yeah, it's going to be interesting to see where this leads. 😬

eharlitzkern OP ,
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@janhelms @histodons That's why I chose it. 😁 The ship sinks, but he manages to step on to the dock before he gets wet.

eharlitzkern OP ,
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@K_Gregz @Ruddiman @histodons I am being a bit facetious in these requirements, tbh. They are a combination of academic misconduct standards and a "wicked problem." This is how I'm thinking:

If the students follow the bullet points, they will need to do a lot of revision (=writing), fact checking (=studying), source attribution (=learn how to cite), and add a comment about AI (=methodology). Put it all together and you get student-centered learning while allowing AI. Hopefully. 😁

eharlitzkern OP ,
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@tkinias @KJKesselring @histodons Yeah, I think the ship has sailed. It sounds more like the administrators are trying to buy time on behalf of the university so they can figure out any legal ramifications. The students have already been using AI for years, and the AI companies are scraping the internet for content; that's how they built their machines in the first place, so training happens with or without us.

eharlitzkern OP ,
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@KJKesselring @tkinias @histodons We really are living in the digital Wild West right now.

eharlitzkern OP ,
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@K_Gregz @Ruddiman @histodons 🤞🏼🤞🏼Our approaches seem to be similar. It will be interesting to see what we think a few months from now when the semester is over and the grades are in.

eharlitzkern , to histodons
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As a historian I am of course tickled pink that muslin, the cotton fabric at the center of the Industrial Revolution, has been given its own research center. 😜 @histodons

eharlitzkern , to bookstodon
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On pre-order!

This books looks like it's going to be 🍌 🍌 🍌 . I mean, any book that combines "true crime" with "Florida man" and "alligators" has to be good. 😁

@bookstodon

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