My name is Sean O’Malley and I’m a first year Public History M.A student. I’ve held numerous prestigious positions in my life, from “Dishwasher” to “coffee-guy” to “hey can you get the garlic knots for Table 12?,” but upon finishing my History undergrad at AU I felt like it was time for a change. Now you might be wondering, “how can he give up a life in the fast lane? How can he walk away from a life of plain-black polo shirts and Eaux d’Ail for a life spent in archives or museums?” The answer is fairly straightforward, as it all essentially boils down to Enrico Fermi’s lesser known “Time Spent Smelling Like Old Garlic Bread—Time Spent Enjoying History” Principle. Now I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I love garlic as much as anyone, but all the same I came one day to the realization that I simply enjoyed studying history more. Over the course of my life I have enjoyed reading, talking, and writing about history more than I enjoyed reading, talking, and writing about garlic bread. And so, here I am.
On a more serious note I was drawn to Public History for a few reasons. As much as I enjoy talking to people about history and as much as I believe in the necessity of historical education, I don’t feel that teaching in an academic setting is the right path for me. My reluctance to pursue a career in the classroom has done little to change the fact that I cannot envision a life for myself in which history plays no part, and it was this feeling which eventually led me to American’s Public History program! While my precise career path is admittedly still a work in progress, I currently hope to work my way into museum education.
In terms of what I hope to learn from this course, I am very interested to learn more about digital projects and platforms like Omeka and of the challenges/difficulties in attempting to create digital archives. These are two subjects about which I know very little, so I am excited to fill those gaps! I am also particularly excited to read Critical Play and learn more about games as, for better or worse, means of disseminating a historical narrative. Video-games were actually the first form of media with a historical bent that really captured my attention as a kid, so I feel a personal connection to the topic. It is odd to consider this now, but as I think of it, I probably would not be writing this post if not for Age of Empires II.
Anyway, a wise sage I just made up once said “the best way to end an introductory blog post is to list your most ridiculous, yet still fervently held beliefs,” so here are just a few of mine.
- Everyone should play Dungeons and Dragons, or some form of Pen and Paper RPG at least once but ideally with some degree of regularity.
- People who play a Druid and insist on summoning 8 Wolves every time combat begins are not to be trusted nor is their behavior to be condoned.
- There is no difference between stirring your fruit-at-the-bottom yogurt up with a spoon and shaking it before opening. Both methods are completely normal and I should not be attacked about this belief as often as I am.
- Swamp Thing is cooler than Superman because the former is a spooky earth elemental and the latter is a pair of pleated khakis given sentience.
- Etrigan the Rhyming Demon is a great character, but one that cannot function without a talented writer behind him and as such, it is better to have a story line without him than with him if no such writer is available.
- Fantasy and Sci-Fi are best when spooky, but cheesy and ridiculous is also an acceptable tone.
With that out of the way, I look forward to meeting and spending the semester learning with you all!