Empire and Resistance:

a role playing game module for FATE core inspired by the Irish Uprising of 1641.

This is a timeline that I created for a project that I co-authored with Dr. Geoff Gimse, a rhetorician out of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. It was meant to give a bit of historical background for a tabletop roleplaying module inspired by the Irish Uprising of 1641.

Here are the necessary components if you’d like to run the game yourself – first thing though, you’ll need to download the free FATE core handbook from evilhat productions. After that, you can use our module handbook to get an idea of the setting, character options, and skills specific to the setting. We’ve also included a starter adventure to get play going!

This was published initially in the peer-reviewed critical gaming journal OneShot.

American History Timeline

Monticello – you know, where Thomas Jefferson lived.

Hello! This was a resource that I made for myself as I was both studying for and writing up my comprehensive exams. I wanted to get some of those really big key events in American history and see just how they overlap with other aspects of our shared past.

I hope it is as useful to you as it was to me (well, I did pass!) ūüėÄ

Memory and Katherine of Aragon

Ill_May_Day_Ballad

Song_of_Six_Queens

 

In an upcoming presentation at the Kings and Queens conference at University of Winchester, I’ll be talking about the Stuart memory of Katherine of Aragon through the use of popular culture, namely plays and ballads. There are two ballads here – published in a Victorian collection, but that date to just before the Restoration in 1659.

 

 

Reacting To The Past (RTTP)

I had the opportunity to go to one of the regional RTTP conferences this past October in Waukesha, Wisconsin and it was a super fun and enlightening experience.¬† It combines my love of roleplay with history.¬† Each game highlights contemporary debate in a historical setting. The game I got to play at Carroll University at the conference was London, 1854: Cesspits, Cholera, and Conflict over the Broad Street Pump. I learned far more about cholera than I ever expected – and it was fun! It was also quite valuable to playtest the game, as I had the chance to see what happens when parts of a game don’t work, as well as what happens when they do.

I also had the fantastic opportunity to sit in on an undergraduate class where they were finishing up an RTTP game.¬† This one was in a class at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, taught by Dr. Martina Saltamacchia.¬† She was so kind to let me sit in, and it was useful to see just how this group of undergrads engaged with the game.¬† Some wore costumes, some gave speeches, I got called a witch, it was great times!¬† ūüôā The game they were playing was also in playtesting (much further along than the Cholera game) and it centers around the Second Crusade.

I had the blessing of one of my professors this semester to use an mini-RTTP game as one of my assignments in her course. As a way to talk about the issues raised surrounding colonialism, gender, wealth, and knowledge creation in response to the film Black Robe, I created a debate for a group of high-ranking Jesuits (all of my classmates) to decide if, when, and where to send a new mission in New France after the events of the film. If you’d like to know more about the game, you can find it here.

Everyone in the class really got into their roles and to the debate, and it was a fun way to end the class. Thanks to Dr. Julia Schleck for letting me experiment with our class!

Getting these experiences has helped to convince me to try RTTP in my class next fall.¬† I’ll be getting to teach a pre-modern English survey class and will incorporate a few mini-games as well as one of the published modules which has been extensively playtested and peer-reviewed. I’m looking at the Henry VIII game, as that ties in well with the class and students will come in with some prior knowledge (even if they’ve just seen pictures of Henry!).

 

 

For more on RTTP go here.

For more on the London, 1854 game, go here.

For more on Henry VIII game, go here.

Anna’s Entry into Edinburgh – 1590

This is one of the first DH projects that I’ve worked on.¬† It shows Anna of Denmark’s official entry into Edinburgh.

Process:

I found a near contemporary map of Edinburgh and using a narrative account of her entry, plotted each point on the map and have included what pageants happened at each site as well as historical engravings or photos of the landmarks of Edinburgh.

Firstly, I found the 1582 map of Edinburgh on the National Library of Scotland’s webpage. It said that the map itself was free to use for academic purposes, but it was provided in a much smaller format.¬† Geoff was able to find a high quality version of the same map and piece it together to be used in a “zoomify” project, where it can, well, be “zoomed” into to see smaller details in great clarity. Once it was zipped together like a digital jigsaw puzzle, I worked to figure out where each of the places mentioned in the Danish account of the Entry were located.¬† To do that, I consulted Google Maps for some, my own knowledge for others, as well as a fantastic historic map collection (of JUST Edinburgh!) put together by Christopher Fleet and Daniel MacCannell and published in association with the National Library of Scotland.¬† The narrative account is contained in David Stevenson’s Scotland’s Last Royal Wedding, with an English translation by Peter Graves. All quotes, unless otherwise noted, as from Scotland’s Last Royal Wedding.

After reading through the narrative account and finding any specific places mentioned by name, and plotting those on the map, I had to figure out a logical path to find all of the other places that were not mentioned by name. I think I have done so accurately, but the stylized nature of the map makes pinpoint accuracy difficult. I’m sure there were many more “side streets” in the Edinburgh of 1590 than pictured in the map, just as there are many little alleyways today.

Once I established a credible path for Anna’s entry to follow, I set about finding images to go along with each place.¬† I tried to include both contemporary or near-contemporary images of how the building or feature would have looked in Anna’s time as well as modern photographs (especially the gorgeous view from the inside of St. Giles!). After that, I tried to re-write some of the pageants and to describe them simply so that one could follow along easily and enjoy imagining some of the splendor of Anna’s entry. Sometimes, I found that I could not do the original text justice and left the quotes, but others I found I could put my own rhetorical spin on and re-wrote. This is, of course, not complete as the narrative account does contain the text of the speeches and pageants, but instead of including the lengthy prose I wanted to impart more of the visual aspects of Anna’s journey, rather than the textual.

The reason that I chose this particular project to craft is two-fold.¬† One, is honestly I’ve just been wanting to do this for a long time and finally found the software that I could do it with. I’ve worked with Anna for years now and have been itching to do more work with her in the last year.¬† Secondly is more of a scholarly reason: Entries seem to be rather understudied.¬† I am building for myself a scholarly toolkit of historian’s tools but also literary analysis and theatrical analysis and Entries are perfect blends of all three.¬† Entries are important introductions into not only how royals wanted to represent themselves to their people (self-fashioning), but also the expectations that the people had for their new king or queen.¬† It was their first chance to see their new king or queen, resplendent in their finery. It was meant as a way to both flatter and educate the king or queen, and so can give a little insight into who that king or queen was as a person and how they were perceived by others.¬† For Anna, much was made of her royal lineage and how powerful and noble Denmark was. The people of Edinburgh, in their speeches, asked Anna to be good, kind, virtuous, and to bear James many children. They also asked her to love Edinburgh and Scotland, even though it was not as rich or powerful as Copenhagen or Denmark. They also wanted her to love James, because he was also just and wise. This shows not only the love that they hoped that Anna would bestow upon them, but the love they had of their own city and kingdom.¬† They felt Scotland a worthy match for Anna, just one that is a little rough around the edges.

 

Without further ado, Anna’s Entry into Edinburgh, 1590:

StoryMapJS of Anna’s Entry

 

MOOCs for the Independent Scholar

MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses, are classes available online for anyone to take. They cover a wide variety of topics, and depending on from where they come, varying levels of difficulty and specialization. A major host of MOOCs is, of course, Coursera. Partnered with academic institutions, Coursera will host their content and provide a digital framework for the course. Either currently available or in their archives, Coursera boasts an impressive number of different courses. These range anywhere from, “Dinosaurs 101” through the University of Alberta, to “Heterogeneous Parallel Programming” from the University of Illinois-Champaign, to “Statistical Molecular Thermodynamics” from the University of Minnesota, and more.

Each of these, for the most part, will follow a similar structure/grading methods:

  • Lectures are delivered via pre-recorded videos.
  • Multiple Choice Quizzes
  • Forum Discussion
  • Class Project (complete with peer evaluations)

The participant will also be graded, sometimes, on how many peers’ projects they themselves have evaluated. In the end, if the grade is satisfactory, the participant will be awarded a certificate of accomplishment, or, as a push from Coursera to pay for the free courses, a Verified Certificate.

Personally, to challenge myself during my gap year, I am currently enrolled in 4 MOOCs. They are the above named Dinosaurs 101, Magna Carta and its Legacy, Data Scientist’s Toolkit, and Digging Deeper: Making Manuscripts. Only three of these, though, are through Coursera, the fourth, is created and hosted by the good people at Stanford. So far, my experience with Digging Deeper is very different from the Coursera courses. I am not sure if it is because the topic is more directly relevant to my research or because how it is structured differently, but my enjoyment and learning levels seem to be different.

Stanford’s, or at least the professors’ approach, is somewhat similar to Coursera’s, where the lectures are presented by video. There is a transcript that runs alongside the video, as well as captions on the screen itself. There are mini-quizzes after each short video, to test recall and understanding. There are also, and this is the difference for me, practical exercises. I am also graded on how well I transcript an actual medieval manuscript. Already, after only having done the first week’s worth of material, I feel more confident in approaching a manuscript and attempting to understand it.

If you can, I would suggest signing up for Digging Deeper ‚Äď it looks to be a promising course!

PSA: I’ve got a Gal in Kalamazoo!

Well, no, not really, but I’m excited to let you know about this opportunity from the Royal Studies Network. ¬†A call for papers for the first panel session described, and I am taking all this verbiage directly from the email newsletter from the Royal Studies Network.

Kalamazoo 2015-DEADLINE: September 1, 2014
 
The Royal Studies Network (RSN) seeks papers and participants to complete the first of two sessions it will sponsor to be presented at the 50th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University, May 14-17, 2015. We include details of both sessions to communicate the full scope of our congress project.
 
Session One, A Panel Discussion: Debatable Queens: (Re) assessing Medieval Stateswomanship, Power and Authority, and
 
Session Two, A Roundtable:¬†Debatable Rule: (Re) assessing Medieval Statecraft, Power and Authority –¬† towards a unified gendered approach¬†(This session is fully allocated)
 
While recognizing the terms ‘kingship’ and ‘statesmanship’, spell-check tools in computer programs do not acknowledge the terms ‘queenship’ or ‘stateswomanship’. While this is a trivial observation in the larger scheme of things it does provide a neat stepping off point for the sessions Royal Studies Network proposes for the 50th¬†International Congress on Medieval Studies.¬†
 
The panel discussion will seek to unpick and challenge some of the long-held myths and archetypes regarding medieval rulership; (re)assessing individual queens (and their kings) whose political careers and lives have been understood simplistically to be successes or failures. The Network has consciously suppressed geographical boundaries in a continuing endeavour to open its activities to a wider ‘global’ perspective.
 
The roundtable is designed both to pull together the themes and ideas raised during the panel discussion AND challenge the traditional tendency to research and study queens and kings in isolation. Thanks to the lucid reflections of Theresa Earenfight (and most recent scholarship in the field), rulership by queens and kings is no longer being examined in episodic ‘vanilla liberal’ isolation. Instead, effective rulership and statecraft are being brought into the light as a product of complementary partnerships and particular contexts: wives and husbands, mothers and sons; elder sisters and younger brothers; and respected advisors and monarchs of both sexes. Rulership (whether queenship or kingship) is a gendered institution, one not uniformly based upon biological sex. Instead it is founded upon nuanced psycho-social ideas of gender; ‘male’ or ‘female’ according to social and cultural distinctions and differences. The most successful political partnerships of the long Middle Ages demonstrate a clear understanding that authority and power were precision tools of statecraft, and they wielded them to great purpose and effect. It is anticipated that the two complementary sessions sponsored by the Royal Studies Network for ICM 2015 will provoke fecund ideas, lively discussion and informed debate.
 
We invite you to submit an abstract for the panel discussion, and the completed Congress Participant Information Form (PIF)
(http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/congress/submissions/index.html#PIF) no later than September 1, 2014to both co-organizers, Ellie Woodacre and Zita Rohr: Ellie.Woodacre@winchester.ac.uk; zita.rohr@sydney.edu.au
 
I’m debating right now on what/if I want to put together to submit… I’m really excited for another opportunity to even attend and hopefully bump into a number of the amazing scholars I met at Kings and Queens 3! ¬†ūüôā