Working in a winter wonderland


Baby, it’s cold outside!

It’s hard work being on sabbatical, believe it or not. Having the privilege of a Huntington Library long-term fellowship comes with strings attached–it’s not all strolling in the gardens, gazing at marvelous paintings, and thinking deep thoughts all day long.  I’ve spent a lot of this week imagining the winter of 1759-60 in Québec and trying to write about it.  (Those poor Highlanders, in their kilts–or “philibegs” as once source calls them!  Just imagine.)  Those of you who are suffering from the Polar Vortex in most of North America this week can probably do a lot better than I can at this point.  (Although it’s been cool and overcast here too–highs only in the 60s!)

Back to the hard work of sabbatical:  the number of seminars, lectures, conferences, and happy hours (both formal and informal) could be nearly a full-time job if I let them.  In the past week alone, I’ve learned what a “philibeg” is, and about medieval zombies and other life-after-death beliefs, heard a lecture on the Sand Creek Massacre (whose 150th anniversary is on November 29 this year), read a paper on seeing early nineteenth-century mathemeticians as cyborgs, and just today learned that “mercantilism” is pronounced merCANtilism, not MERcantilism, as I had always thought.  (Who knew?  I avoid talking about merCANtilism as much as I possibly can.)

Sabbatical FTW!!!  How are they gonna get me back on the ranch, after I’ve seen Pasadee?


13 thoughts on “Working in a winter wonderland

  1. I’m not so sure about the pronunciation of mercantilism – that may be a US-UK thing. FWIW, I think I use both, but it’s hard to figure that out after reading this!

    When I was a child, I pronounced “Munich” with a short u and the ch as “ch” and not “kh”.


  2. Cool in the 60s. Yeah, sure. My heart bleeds for you, Historiann. After a week of two snowfalls and an ice storm, I am done with winter. Sadly, winter isn’t even here yet!

    The nice thing about a sabbatical? You don’t have to say mercantilism if you don’t want to!


  3. Great to see this blog again! I’ve been having some accessibility problems from one or more of my usual access points, but not this one. A little snow here on the Altoonian Plateau, but nothing too bad. I’m still going to pronounce it the same way you would say “merch,” (as in the cool things you can buy and wear at the virtual “store” one click away from any given web page). Did anyone connect or associate the cold winter in Quebec with the climactic military events in the Seven Years War up that way in the same year? As in, say, the Ghost of J-B Colbert was annoyed that Les Anglais were muscling in on the French skin trade? Louis XIV believed none of this would have happened if he had been allowed to rule France for a full century?


  4. The nice thing about a sabbatical? You don’t have to say mercantilism if you don’t want to!

    Right on, Janice!

    Indyanna, I haven’t seen any providential interpretations of the cold winter of 1759-60. Actually, I don’t think it was nec. any colder than usual for that time period–it was extra miserable because of the war and the want that people were already suffering. But for the Highlanders? They just weren’t prepared for the Laurentian cold and wind up their skirts.

    Susan–you are right that merCANtilism seems to be the preferred pronunciation among the British historians and British people around these parts. I suppose if I wanted to pronounce mercantilism, and I don’t, I could continue to say MURcantilism, like a ‘Murican would.


  5. Registered for OAH today, and thought of you — and norovirus! Remembering that grisly Saturday in Seattle. You — giving a paper, fighting nausea. Me — barfing in a trash can in the lobby! Those were the days. The hell with SoCal!


  6. @ TR. Historiann admirably soldiered through a paper in another sickish patch at a conference many years ago as a graduate student, I’m remembering. I wouldn’t want to do this, although I have taught more than once through a green Nyquil haze. But in that case, you can always cancel mid-lecture, to the ovations of the audience!


  7. Not exactly on topic, but fascinating to know that Highlanders were wearing kilts in Quebec in 1759. They were proscribed at home in Scotland as symbols of dangerous Jacobitism after passage of the Dress Act of 1746, and until early in the 1780s.

    In one of the areas I study, the Morar district of the western Highlands, the locals sneakily got around the ban by wearing what seem to have been extra baggy tartan culottes.


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