21 January 2011

The First Week Back...

I've completed my first week of classes. So far so good. I've taken "nerd" to a whole new level in my literature classes, and it's proving that double majoring in Literature and History is a good combination for me, even if it makes me a bit manic. I'd prefer manic to depressed.

My history professors would be proud of the little history nerd beast wolverine thing they have let loose upon the literary studies world.

If the next 15 weeks are anything like this one, well, it should be interesting. Every lit class except for Studies in Fiction has began with a historical overview.

Gender and Ethnicity is showing the historical evolution of the feminist movements in the UK and United States. I was particularly interested in the Quakers perspective on equality and, of course, Mary Wollstonecraft who seems as eccentric and unorthodox as I. In fact, I believe I will have to research her and her works a bit just to add to the nerdiness.

Beginnings to 1660 and King Arthur is where my nerdy self is appearing like a rabid beast. Those two classes are starting with a historical overview of the Middle Ages. YAY! Henry II is appearing often in association with King Arthurian lore which I find fascinating. Even more YAY! Though I have been driven nuts on the historical aspects already.

Henry II and Eleanore of Aquitaine - Fontevraud Abbey
Beginnings to 1660 started with a historical documentary entitled "A History of Britain" featuring Simon Schama of Columbia University. So far so good. It started off with the neolithic peoples which I know nothing about and don't really care about, moving onto the big pile of rocks in the middle of nowhere.

part 1 Start at like 7 mins in. part 2 part 3

Then we got into the Romans and Boudicca. My keen observations noticed some things wrong and I had to fight the nerd.

Julius Caeser did not go to Brittania at first with ideas of conquest. He went on a recon mission because the Britons were aiding the Gauls in the Gallic Wars. Book 4 Chapter 20 - The Gallic Wars. As you can see if you muddle through the short chapters, JC even tried to run the snitch game with merchants and Gauls who were all too familiar with Britons.

Claudius' legions were not the ones playing "carrot and stick." The Britons were. The Romans simply waited for reinforcements and chased them down. That's not including the fact that many just submitted to Rome with some sort of client-kingship deal.

Then we go to Boudicca. "It only took a policy of stupidity, arrogance, and brutality on the part of the local Roman governor to turn her from a warm supporter of Rome into it's most dangerous enemy." It was the praetor, not the damn governor that started the shit with Boudicca. The praetor happened to be running the show in a small (maybe 2 week or so) time frame after the unexpected death of the real Governor, then they had to wait for Paulinus to show up.

Paulinus had nothing to do with Boudicca's uprising with the exception of stopping it.

Boudicca's husband died and Decianus Catus decided it would be a good idea to not honor Prasutagus' will (which is to be expected) and send his minions in to loot and pillage the tribes aristocracy in an effort to reclaim a "loan" given to certain tribes by Claudius. Not only that, Seneca had forced the tribe to take a huge loan and called it in. Essentially it was a mob shakedown from all sides.

The literal translation from Tacitus is "scourged" not flogged, not whipped... s-c-o-u-r-g-e-d. This means the flagrum was used and she probably took it 39 times. Though I could probably debate scourged vs. flogged to death. At 40 lashes with the flagrum the Romans would have had to have some sort of ok by the big boys in Rome. Her daughters were "outraged" meaning raped. She got pissed and rose up. It was a very well planned revolt which involved more than just running in and killing shit. She used a network of spies, psychological warfare, and even planned on stealing the Roman grain supplies so her warriors could train and arm.

The video shows a re-enactment of the final pitched battle between Boudicca and Paulinus' legion. It starts correct with the Romans patiently waiting and unloading their javelins. They kind of like forgot to get into wedge formation. Tacitus is implicit that every single unit at that battle went crashing into the Britons in wedge formation. Something they probably picked up from the Germans. If you're going to show a dramatic re-enactment and get parts of it right, get the whole thing right.

After that I don't remember much because I was trying not to explode into tears of frustration.

I also patiently sat through a layman's session on feudalism and the 3 Orders. I didn't want to hurt the professor's feelings, because, well, I like this professor, and this person actually gets my utmost respect. Plus I'm probably the only person in that room that gives a shit about the intricacies of feudalism and the 3 Orders (Fight, Pray, Toil). My brain automatically went to previous feudalism lectures that were drilled into my head. At least I got the professor to put up a picture of Old Sarum. More YAY!

I had a "discussion" in the King Arthur class about chivalry after someone said "Chivalry isn't dead. Men still open doors." Blah!?!? I think I gave myself whiplash. I know I ended up with a headache. Yeah, I had to mention the true, medieval version of chivalry and naturally I spouted something or other about William Marshal, and real chivalry died with him. The professor was cool though and diverted my attention to another shiny object or something. At least I can get an argument in this class.

I'm already going history nerd in one of my history classes. So far I'm going to research Peter I "the Great" of Russia (not sure where I'm going with it yet, probably his concept of servitude and serfdom, but I have chosen him). The other one, I'm just trying to get through because it's a freshman level class, American History and the ignorance and stupidity surrounding me makes me want to stab myself with blunt objects.

Yes, I am a nerd. And I don't have anyone to babble at about my day at class, so you loyal readers are just going to have to suffer.


  1. :)) So glad everything is getting off to a great start for you!!