Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Virginia History & a book from Bradburn and Coombs

They were kind enough to sign it for me
Recently (before Thanksgiving) I was able to go to Richmond with my friend Susan and attend a book launch party for Douglas Bradburn and John Coombs.  Bradburn and Coombs were there to discuss their recent book "Early Modern Virginia, Reconsidering the Old Dominion."

Susan and I had a great time.

First, Susan is good company and we talked and caught up the hour ride to the Library of Virginia in Richmond.  Second, Susan's area is Early Virginia History.  I don't know exactly what she studied but I do know that she has a Master's Degree in History and she portrays Martha Washington for Mount Vernon.  She grew up in Williamsburg, she portrayed a colonial woman for Colonial Williamsburg prior to taking on Martha Washington, she has been all over a variety of plantations learning and studying... and so she knows this stuff.

I don't.  I am clueless.  But Doug Bradburn is married to a fellow Mount Holyoke College alum and now Facebook buddy, so I went.

When we arrived the speaking part of the evening had begun, Doug and John were taking questions.  They were hilarious.  Susan likened them to the two Muppet gentlemen in the theater, (who critique the shows) I don't know if you know what I mean? (I found a youtube, its down at the bottom)

In addition to being funny, they were interesting.  The idea was to question how Virginia History is generally perceived, to attempt to change the questions, to change the lectures which trickles down and changes what the average student learns.

My interpretation (and like I said, I'm fairly clueless so if you are a history buff or good gosh a bonafide historian, go find the book and read it yourself!) is that Virginia is traditionally compared to Massachusetts and in the comparison Virginia comes out lacking.  Massachusetts is seen as orderly, pious, well governed and Virginia is a disorderly wilderness with wild men running about drinking.  (I was never taught that in any history class btw)  And this series of essays is to take a look at Virginia and examine what was really going on in its early history as a colony.

To date I've only read the introduction and the first essay, by Bradburn "The Eschatological Origins of the English Empire."  As I do not run in academic circles it is a bit slow going for me and I have to reread things, look things up, and keep the dictionary handy.  However, it is interesting.  I had never heard that part of the marketing of the Virginia Company was church related, that the Anglican Church saw the empire as a means to keep the Catholic Spaniards from taking over the "new world."  I find that particularly interesting because in everything I was ever taught about Spanish expansion, the church figures prominently, and so it would make sense that the Anglican Church was also doing its part to save the world.  But it wasn't something I'd heard before.

I plan to take the book with me on an upcoming vacation and attempt to make more headway.  As I live here in Williamsburg, the colonial capital, it is interesting to read about the history and add it to what I see around me.
Statler & Waldorf - Signing off by beautifulcynic

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