About “Reading History”

ImageReading History scares me a bit, honestly. As a writer, I prefer the stable and the formal to the fluid and spontaneous. The experience of writing a book comes to mind: every page is carefully prepared, edited, peer-reviewed, double-checked, and indexed before the final text is published and sent out to further reviewers, libraries, and individual readers. As a teacher, however, I’m very different: I love the spontaneous nature of discussion and the fluidity of conversations over texts, ideas, and possibilities. Perhaps this blog—which ostensibly offers reflections on literature, culture, and religion—lands somewhere in middle. Along the lines of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s notebooks, Reading History is something of a “fly-catcher”—though I would not pretend to either Coleridge’s erudition or breadth of insight and inquiry. As a collection of thoughts and ideas, reflections, ruminations, criticisms and doubts, Reading History shares my guesses and suspicions on books and history and the ideas that shape our lives—but ever in the spirit of the classroom more than in the letters of a published article or book. Reading History offers sparks of intellectual curiosity, hypotheses and marginalia from the stories I read, ideas for future projects and articles I’d like to one day write, and notes on the notes of my research and teaching. Of course, the ideas here are my own (copyright, etc., etc.), and Reading History does not represent the institutions where I work, worship, or otherwise associate. Fear cripples the imagination, so I’ll post this now before I lose my nerve.