I'm a historian, and like a lot of historians, I've been in an academic institutional home for most of my career. It sounds kind of awful framed that way, but it's actually not that bad, all things considered, and for me it has meant a steady paycheck with benefits while I pursue my passions for medieval and early modern history while also introducing eager young minds to the wonders of history. Or something like that.
I'm now in a perilous, sort of, in-between condition in which my graduate funding is winding down but I still have a few months left before defending my dissertation and being awarded, God willing, three little letters to place after my name for the world to marvel at, etc. So I'm about to start needing, let's say, supplemental funds. But that's not why I've turned to Patreon, dear reader, at least not entirely. No: it's because as a historian, as a historian of things that I know not only interest a lot of people but matter to a lot of people, here in America and all over the world, I want to bring my knowledge and my skills and my passion for the study and the importance of the past to people outside of the academy. While I plan to stay in the academy, I also want to keep part of my work outside of the Ivory Tower, to release it into the world, for you, dear reader (or listener!).
Here's what I have on offer: I want to tell you stories, but not stories you'll hear anywhere else. I want to share with you the lives of holy men and women in medieval Europe, the stories of fabulous female Daoist adepts in medieval China, take you on journeys with Ottoman travelers and adventurers. I want to open your eyes to vast horizons of history and intimate life stories, drawn from the Islamic world, from Catholic Europe, from East Asia, really, across the breadth and width of the vast land mass we call Eurasia- and sometimes beyond. Much of the history I do is usually described as 'religious' or 'cultural' history, but I don't really worry too much about those labels. I want to take you into these other worlds and places, in whatever ways I can. When people starting talking, on social media or in real life, about 'Islam' or 'China,' I want you, dear reader, to have the intellectual tools and resources to make meaningful contributions, and to spot nonsense and propaganda, or just plain bad history, when you see it. But I also want you to see the beauty and the wonder in these past worlds, beyond any political agenda or needs. Those things are just as important, no, more important, after all.
Sometimes I'll have other things to say: call it politics, call it cultural criticism, whatever you like. Much of the time it will be perspectives you won't get many other places. If nothing else, everything I post or record or publish will make you think, hopefully in different and better ways.
And I sometimes write poetry, but no one pays for poetry do they?
Anyway, up until now, I have used my personal website/blog- thicketandthorp.com- as my main platform for this exercise in 'public history.' But I want to expand my offerings: podcasts, video talks, maybe even physical objects sent out into the world (whoa!).
I need your help to do all that. If I am to justify spending time and energy on these things, some cash in the proverbial box will go a long ways towards sustaining these things. Your contributions will help me to set up a space outside of academic confines to reach more people, and to produce 'content' that simply isn't going to be made by anyone else anywhere else.
So I'm asking you, dear reader, to pledge, first of all, a slice of your time and attention and energy to engage the content I'm producing- and I can't thank you enough for reading and listening and commenting! Next, I'm asking for your financial support, whatever you can spare- anything is welcome, and I thank you in advance for whatever support- financial or otherwise, that you can give!