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posted by [personal profile] deathbyshinies at 05:34pm on 25/03/2009
Right, I'm considering [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna's essay a call to arms. Or rather, a kick up the arse which I have long required...

Since late 2007, I've had an idea for a project that I've never quite got myself organised enough to get off the ground. Basically, I want to start a blog about 'secret histories' - specifically, the little random tidbits of historical fact that make you sit up and go 'BLOODY HELL, WHY DID NOBODY EVER TELL ME ABOUT THAT!'. The focus will be on women, POC, LGBTQI people, and people with disabilities, but with some flexibility, any period (although preference to pre-mid 20thC) and any country, and would deal with... well, as it says on the tin, amazing stuff done by amazing people in the past that tends to get written out of mainstream histories. The blog will update twice a week, and hopefully provide everyone who decides to look at it with a nice happy moment of 'wow, that's something really cool I didn't know about before!'.

(To give you an idea of what I mean: subjects that I myself am planning to cover include the fact that Aelred of Rievaulx, a twelfth-century abbot, wrote confessionally about having what was probably some kind of sex with his male schoolfriends as a teenager; the fact that Robert Bruce used women as field scouts and spies in order to infiltrate the camps of Edward I during the Scottish Wars of Independence; and the case of Eleanor Rykener, who may or may not have been a medieval transwoman).

I'm currently thinking that each post will consist of about 1000-1500 words or equivalent*, and will most probably take the form of introducing a historical figure, providing some context and background as to the time and place they lived, what they did that was so amazing, and why. Posts to be written in a narrative, rather than argumentative, form, and relatively informal language, pitched at about a Year 9 or 10/GCSE level. A short reading list or set of links to follow for each essay would also be really useful, as would a couple of images if available.

* I'm also open to the idea of having posts in comic/graphic storytelling form, or Art History-type image analysis, if anyone is interested in doing that.

Because I really don't want this to be the kind of thing that starts out in a blaze of enthusiasm and then peters out when the management gets bored/stressed/eaten by space weasels, I'm putting a cap on the project - fifty essays, posted twice a week over 25 weeks spanning the second half of 2009, June to December. I'll be keeping open the option to run a second series later on if people want. To that end, it's going to be officially titled The Secret Histories Project: fifty people you never met in Year Nine History (template is very blank so far, I haven't added any content or pretties yet).

I also want to collect all fifty essays before I start posting. This might push the start back a bit, but will have the advantage of meaning no unexpected hiatuses if something suddenly comes up or someone has trouble getting something finished on time. If this can be run professionally enough and gather a large enough audience (I plan to promote it to death on the left-wing/feminist blogs and history communities I frequent), I certainly wouldn't be adverse to potentially entertaining the thought of maybe perhaps considering the possibility of some sort of book deal - that seems to be what all the cool bloggers are doing these days :)

This is where you lot come in. If I try to do this all by myself, I will a) go peculiar and start eating the bedclothes and b) end up with a blog full of nothing but stories about medieval women (who even I will admit are, although awesome, not the be-all and end-all of Secret Histories!)I know there are people on my flist who are capable of doing this, and doing it bloody well. Do you know an awesome historical figure who deserves to be written about? Do you wanna research and write about someone, but don't know who yet? Would you be able to write a 1000-1500 word post (which is less than the average weekly Oxford tute essay) between now and the end of May? Or (bless you, bless you) more than one?

ETA: When I use the word 'essay', I'm basically just using it as shorthand for 'medium-length piece of non-fictional writing' - PLEASE don't feel like it has to be a super-formal academic for-marks-type thing; personal, reflective and creative responses to historical materials are very much wanted too!

If you think you might be interested, drop me an email or comment below, saying who/what you're interested in writing about, or just that you're up for participating. As the material is being gathered in advance, it's not going to cause anyone a panic if you indicate interest and then later decide you can't/don't want to do an essay after all. I'm also leaving this post public for the time being, so if you have friends/acquaintances who you think might want to join in, please link them in or have them contact me.

ETA: secret histories project @ googlemail .com

Right, off to rewrite history, one blog post at a time!
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