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Cultural Fusion

9 December, 2005

Cultural Fusion

Well, despite my telling the class repeatedly that the many historians of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (or the midevil period, according to some students) consider the present usages of the words ‘German,’ ‘tribe,’ ‘Barbarian,’ and ‘migration’ to be problematic, the textbook won again. In an attempt to compromise, I say we all consider using the word ‘Gerbarian.’ What do you think?

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. 9 December, 2005 5:02 am

    How about Gerbilarian?That’d be easier to remember, I think.

  2. 9 December, 2005 6:31 am

    Yeah, but would Goffart approve?

  3. 9 December, 2005 7:24 am

    I want a shirt that says “mid-evil” across the chest.And as long as we don’t go for Gerberian, I’m down with it, though I think that Barmanian would also have a nice (read “alcoholic”) ring to it.

  4. 9 December, 2005 9:32 am

    “proto-Germanic, pseudo-tribal, demi-migrants formerly known as barbarians”….

  5. 9 December, 2005 1:51 pm

    Goffart almost never approves of anything he could sneer at instead. OTOH, he has a strange weakness for newly-coined tribal names.Completely off topic: could somebody tell me how I can have an avatar in Blogger like you cool kids?

  6. 9 December, 2005 2:51 pm

    Okay, now help out a poor benighted late medievalist… I understand the problems with German and Barbarian, and I suppose I can understand problems with tribe. What is the thinking on the problem with migration? (I’ve been using migration as an alternative to invasion, so that my students don’t fall sway to all those nice neat military-like arrows on the maps, showing who went where.) Thank you!

  7. 9 December, 2005 5:18 pm

    How about using “extended vacation” instead of “migration.” heh heh.And for those who don’t know, the grad students at K’zoo sell t-shirts and mugs with all their students’ common misspellings of “medieval.” Perhaps not as cool as the single word “mid-evil” across the chest, but hey, it supports the K’zoo grad students! And when my students see my mug, they never misspell “medieval” again.

  8. 9 December, 2005 5:29 pm

    Must. get. Mug.NK — it was something Goffart said recently in a talk. IIRC, we don’t know they were ‘migrating’ either. I like making my students learn Vökerwanderung just to be really perverse. Tiruncula — I would also like to know that.Jane Dark — Thanks! I got stuck on the ‘Bar’ reversal ‘cos I didn’t wan’t to end up with Barman! Considering how often students want to call the Germans who showed up and stayed for a really long visit Germanians (well, they do get to read some Tacitus), Barmanian would work!dfyex — what the Welsh said when the Germans showed up

  9. 9 December, 2005 7:00 pm

    So is the idea then that they were just nomadic, and wandered around on a regular basis, and some of those wanderings happened to end up in the Empire? (i.e., migration sounds too purposeful, like Irish fleeing the famine for the Promised Land of the US?)

  10. 9 December, 2005 7:04 pm

    Re: the avatar thing – I figured it out. If you add a photo to your blogger profile, it shows up when you comment. The photo already has to be online somewhere, so I just linked to the one on my Typepad page.

  11. 9 December, 2005 7:57 pm

    NK — that part was never really clear, although I think the implication was that migration is indicative of purpose, and the Gerbarians didn’t seem so purposeful

  12. 9 December, 2005 8:54 pm

    the textbook always wins.

  13. 9 December, 2005 9:44 pm

    What? It’s no longer okay to refer to “maurauding German Barbarians in the Dark Ages”? I don’t know how I’ll ever break it to those inevitable students who always end up in European history survey courses that I TA.

  14. 9 December, 2005 10:05 pm

    Speaking of textbooks, I’ve been using Coffin, Stacey, partially because I think it’s decent, partially because I have students who want pictures, and partially because they use it at Flagship U.I really like Hunt in a lot of ways, though. Most of my friends at Catholic U use that. I detest Spielvogel with a passion I generally reserve for things more worthy of passion. But you folks teaching the survey — what do you like, and why?

  15. 9 December, 2005 10:11 pm

    ADM, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. I’d smile sweetly, talk of my fond memories of his kindess during grad school and ply him with drinks at the inevitable Kazoo party.Anyway, he’s probably seen some version of Gerbilarian submitted as a response on student projects at some point or another.

  16. 10 December, 2005 1:03 am

    Goffart would give far more leeway to someone referring to barbarians than to anyone referring to Germans. The only writer of Late Antiquity to refer to Tacitus’ Germania was, I believe, Cassiodorus referring to the Baltic as the source of amber.One guess where I learned (or mislearned) that!

  17. 10 December, 2005 1:09 am

    Your students actually read the textbook enough to be influenced by it? I’m impressed!

  18. 10 December, 2005 1:14 am

    Scott — Some do! Enough to make it dangerous. I think it has to do with the fact that I use the chapter quiz plug-in for Blackboard. They have to have opened the book to do reasonably well on the quizzes, even though each quiz is only 1% of the final grade.Anonymous … I can guess 🙂 And I think you’re right — let’s not even get started on the ‘are the people named after the place, or are the places named after the people’ question!I have to say … one occasionally wonders if someone who knows people like Goffart let them know they’re being discussed in the blogosphere.

  19. 10 December, 2005 4:50 am

    I can think of one person who’s both net-savvy and on pretty chummy/gossipy terms with RF+WG and who, if she stumbled across such discussions, might mention it to them, but I can’t imagine either of those great and good ones taking more than a passing interest in the information. My sense is that RF is pretty used to people (virtual or otherwise) making WG jokes and she both insulates him from it and tunes it all out as a matter of habit.

  20. 10 December, 2005 6:10 am

    Okay, I’m sure I’m behind on the gossip, but do you mean that RF+WG are an item? As for textbooks – for medieval, I’ve always used Hollister, until this semester, when I used Rosenwein, which I liked a lot (though she does a lot with art, which is great and leads to gorgeous illustrations, but which I have little to say about in class). But I haven’t taught Western Civ since grad school. I know that we used Spielvogel for the early modern and modern quarters; I can’t for the life of me remember what got used for the medieval quarter. I don’t actually think it was Spielvogel, but what it was isn’t coming to mind… maybe it was Hollister? (We didn’t cover ancient in that survey.)At risk of opening a can of worms: what do you dislike about Spielvogel, which I found perfectly inoffensive? (I should add that it’s probably been 10 years since I used it last.)Oh, for early modern I’ve also used Merriman’s History of Europe (or History of Modern Europe? can’t remember what it’s called… you can get one volume that goes from Renaissance to present, or one that goes from Renaissance to 1815 and then 1815 to the present). I like it very much – clear, detailed without being tedious and obscure, decent illustrations. It has almost nothing about women, mind you, but I can add that stuff in myself.

  21. 10 December, 2005 6:35 am

    OK –the only RF I can think of is somebody from when I was an undergrad, so somebody needs to be e-mailing me. AFAIK, WG is a perfectly nice man, except whern he and DV review each other’s work. I would not like to have it thought that I was providing a place where people could cast aspersions, because he’s always been very nice to me, if standofficsh.Otherwise, I don’t like Spielvogel because everything he touches that’s pre-modern is from a modernist perspective. I love Merriman if I’m teaching anything past Medieval, though.

  22. 10 December, 2005 2:10 pm

    I’m talking about the RF that WG’s married to – and has been for years. She’s pretty well known, but not an historian.

  23. 10 December, 2005 6:05 pm

    RF = Vikings without horns, right?It totally makes sense to me that they would be married – I just hadn’t traveled enough in those circles to figure it out!Yeah, I can see Spielvogel being fairly modernist. Like I said, I’ve never looked at his medieval stuff. The early modern is tolerable, though.

  24. 10 December, 2005 6:18 pm

    NK – yup!

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