Hi, my name is Will.
I’m a historian and blogger, normally tweeting as @willpooley, but for the week you can find me as @WetheHumanities
Between my blog and my teaching at Bristol University, I am interested in the social and cultural history of France in the long nineteenth century. In particular, I research folklore and supernatural beliefs, criminal justice, and the borderlands of science and Occultism. I have a book under way about folklore, environmental change, and attitudes to the body in south western France c.1870-1914, but a lot of my time at the moment is spent on my next research project: criminal cases involving ‘witchcraft’ in France 1790-1940. (Yes: it’s a thing. I’ve found almost 600, so far, and there are more to be found, I’m sure.)
I’m also very interested in ‘creative’ approaches to writing history, and have an online book group (#storypast) and blog with a group of other historians. In fact, there are no requirements to join, so if you are interested in storytelling and history, we’d love to see you over on the hashtag.
Three issues that I think it could be interesting to take on curating the account are the problems with social media, the appeal of a good story, and the sad decline of folklore as a discipline.
I’m a great advocate for social media as a means of connecting researchers, students, teachers, and wider publics, but what problems do our current social media practices present? Who do we exclude? What do we lose in short blogs and tweets? Why is harassment still such a big problem, and why do some conversations turn sour?
Coming out of the #storypast group, I would also like to discuss how stories work to hook readers from lots of different backgrounds in. What are the dangers and pleasures of telling a good story that is also based on academic research? How do academics do that?
Finally, I will beat the world’s smallest drum about an area that I think has become unfairly neglected in the English-speaking world: the discipline of folklore. This neglect looks all the more strange given the social media phenomenon that is #FolkloreThursday
But I’m likely to stray over a number of different topics, and I look forward to discussing them with you then!