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Got Things Done

 

Got Promoted

And for those who need statistics from my first full academic year of real GTD use:
Total tasks completed (i.e. those that I bothered to enter into Pocket Informant and not just do right away) from 2015.08.22 to 2016.05.11:
1200 tasks (probably 3-5 hours-worth of entry time over the span of 8 months).

And to see how much I used the various pieces of metadata, and to get a better sense of what I did with my time, in broad brushstrokes, I record the following summaries for posterity:

PI Tasks by Project

Screenshot 2016-05-12 14.20.31

Screenshot 2016-05-12 14.26.09

 

I wouldn’t analyze these too closely, since some tasks were deleted, since not every task had every possible piece of metadata – some of them were just ephemeral reminders to myself (“Bring cheese”) set up with Siri, and since different tasks required differing amounts of time to complete. But still, it’s kinda interesting, if you’re into that kind of thing…

And speaking of generic end-of-academic-year checklists:

  • Clean work office
  • Inventory work office supplies
  • Bring home perishable food items (office, fridge)
  • Clean up computer folders on work computer
  • Copy work computer course folders to Dropbox
  • Order any outstanding textbooks for next semester
  • Wish happy summer to faculty/staff
  • Return library books
  • Update CV
  • Write semester-end thoughts for each course (keep textbook? different assignments…)
  • Brainstorm generic teaching improvements
  • Clean home office

Ha! Thought I’d let a GTD post go by without a checklist? You’ve been chklstd!

John F. Guilmartin Jr.

If you haven’t already heard, John (“Joe”) Guilmartin died last week. Best known to early modern military historians for his detailed work on Mediterranean naval warfare, he was a wide-ranging scholar who published on topics ranging from the Ancient world to Europe to the Americas to aerial combat to the Vietnam War.

He taught at several schools, spending most of his academic career at Ohio State, where he advised 200 students through the graduate school process. His former students, this one at least, remembers him as a jovial fellow always sharing historical factoids whenever the mood struck. If you’ve read his classic Gunpowder and Galleys, you already know that his engineering background was hard to repress, even if that meant chalking the equation for drag coefficients on the board during a History seminar on military technology, to the befuddlement of at least one of his students. Just as irrepressible was his homespun wisdom, whether describing the vigorous military mindset as “Hey diddle, diddle, straight up the middle”, or reassuring his charges that if the earth were to split open between his feet, he would automatically jump left, lest, in his hesitation, the earth swallowed him. And, though I missed his class lecture on siege warfare, his encouragement of my research on the 1708 siege of Lille, along with his early adoption of graphics, had a major influence on my future research path.

Guilmartin's HIS 625 syllabus

For more evidence of his very full life, see his homepage here. Several of his former advisees are preparing a festschrift in his honor.

He will be missed.

What rhymes with Ottawa?

Preliminary program for the SMH 2016 conference in Ottawa is up here.

There aren’t that many EMEMH panels, but there’s at least one of note. There are also, as usual, several panels on 17C-18C America, a few on Native Americans and other indigenes, a sprinkling of Ancients, and a few on environment/topography. None on medieval or Napoleonic this year – I’ll assume the SMH often competes with the Woodstock party that is Kalamazoo.

So I’m thinking we should try to organize some informal EMEMH get-together sometime during the conference. Could be drinks, lunch or even dinner. Let us know in the comments if anyone is game, and we can try to figure something out.

2015: The Year of the Military Revolution in French historiography

Yet more Xmas gifts. But at a price.

Oh, don’t worry –  I’ll spare you the checklist, but I’ll belabor you instead with what I’ve learned (and why I didn’t learn it sooner) over the past year.

But if you’re a busy person, the TL;DR version: there are a lot of French scholars of early modern military history, particularly of Louis XIV’s reign. And I’m giving you a bibliography, for free.
Read More…

SMH2016 Ottawa sneak-peak

While the official program for next April’s Society for Military History conference won’t be out until early next year, I can report that there will be at least one panel on Louis XIV’s last two wars (or is it William III’s last two wars?).

If I can quote from the brilliantly-crafted proposal overview:

Crossing the Channel: Anglo-Germanic Military Relations in the Age of William and Anne

England has always had a complicated relationship with the rest of Europe. Neither the ‘English’ Channel nor the wooden walls of the Royal Navy have prevented invasions from the sea, yet English self-identity has long prided itself on its separation from the Continent. Historians are well aware of the permeability of the Channel and North Sea: Julius Caesar, Norsemen and William the Conqueror, Lancaster and York are only a few of the early successful examples. Nevertheless, England’s peripheral location generally allowed Tudor and Stuart monarchs a freedom of action regarding continental entanglements. After William of Orange’s successful invasion of 1688 forced the island nation into a full-scale continental commitment, the immediate question arose of how England’s forces would contribute to the two ensuing conflicts against Louis XIV’s France (the Nine Years War, 1688-1697, and War of the Spanish Succession, 1701-1714). English troops, commanded first by King William III and then by the Duke of Marlborough, campaigned across Flanders and Iberia, while English diplomatic attentions ranged throughout Europe. Central to William’s vision of a pan-European anti-French alliance were the Germanic states of northern Europe: his own United Provinces of the Netherlands, the German princes of the Holy Roman Empire, and the crown lands of Austria. By 1714, the coalitions constructed by William had humbled the Sun King, and elevated Britain to the status of a great power. How England incorporated its own forces into this larger coalition effort is the focus of this panel.

The three papers provide complementary perspectives on the resulting military relations between England (Britain from 1707) and these continental allies, the compromises and tensions inherent in such coalition endeavors. Thomas M. Nora (University of Hull, Ph.D. candidate) focuses on the administrative and diplomatic groundwork necessary for the English to participate as full members of the Grand Alliances of 1689 and 1701 – their reliance on German auxiliaries. John M. Stapleton (West Point, Associate professor) examines the English reliance on Dutch operational logistics within a Flanders coalition army. Caleb Karges (University of St. Andrews, Ph.D.) explores the question of how the English sought to shape their Austrian ally’s grand strategy.

Together these contributions illustrate how the multi-national forces of two Grand Alliances crossed not just physical and state boundaries on campaign, but necessarily violated borders often considered sovereign and inviolate – crossing the frontiers of individual states’ fiscal, administrative and command structures. These papers explore the extent to which English exceptionalists were forced to become more “continental” when fighting within grand coalitions against a hegemonic France.

Me? I’ll just be along for the ride to chair and to commentate.

Post-conference checklist

I continue with my conceit that anyone will care about my checklists. I create them largely to facilitate my use of GTD (see GTD tag). Specifically, to speed up entry of tasks in my Pocket Informant task manager, as well as to make it easy for me to complete small, atomized tasks of a larger project, without having to stop and reconstruct all the subtasks each time. So without further ado, these are the tasks I should perform after each conference:

  • Save receipts for reimbursement (scan, file)
  • Revise Contacts (PI, Contacts)
    • Update Farley file on old contacts
    • Add new contacts with Farley file info
    • Set Google Alerts for new contacts/authors
      I’m not saying I’m a cyberstalker, but…
    • Email contacts with any follow-ups
  • Tell any non-attendees about interesting bits
  • Schedule any due dates for future publication of paper (PI, make Project)
  • Search for any mentioned publications/authors (Zotero, DTPO)
  • Enter specific Papers and Panels (DTPO)
    • Import conference program
      • Make conference tag
      • OCR program as needed
    • Enter comments/questions on my paper/panel (topic tags)
    • Enter my notes on other papers (topic tags)
  • Enter general thoughts on conference (DTPO, with conference tag)
    • Current trends among other researchers?
    • What kinds of questions/debates came up?
  • Identify potential “competitors” (DTPO, with conference tag)
    • Develop strategies to coordinate with other researchers & minimize potential overlap/scooping
  • Enter any Notes, Photos… from conference, museums, bookstores… (DTPO)
    • Take notes on museums & other sites visited (site tag)
    • Consider how to use in courses
  • Add any forgotten pre-conference prep tasks to checklist template

I think that’s a good start.

Colloque went (well)

The conference on Louis XIV’s last two wars (Le grand tournant) was held at the Service historique de la Défense (Vincennes) without a hitch – the Sun King refuses to be eclipsed by the dark clouds of a few Islamic terrorists. I’m sure Phil McCluskey could find some irony in there somewhere. The first day saw an almost full house, 50+ attendees, while the second day (a Friday, with fewer presentations) saw probably 30 in attendance. Quite a success, given that many Parisian academic conferences/meetings scheduled for that week were cancelled altogether, and given the fact that Paris was still technically in a state of emergency.

Like most European academic conferences that I’ve attended, there was little premeditated commentary. The chairs largely served to introduce each presenter, though occasionally they might make some brief commentary at the end. This means, of course, that the presenters have until the day of their presentation to write their talk – not sure if this is generally a good thing or a bad thing. All this differs from the American academic conference culture, where the papers are due weeks before the conference, so the commentator has time to draft a more considered response to each paper, and combine the papers together thematically.

The program follows, with my briefest of summaries of each paper:

Des pratiques guerrières en mutation, prés. Bertrand Fonck (SHD)

D’une guerre à l’autre, le double retard de l’infanterie française (1688-1715), par Boris Bouget (musée de l’Armée).

Discussed the technological and tactical limitations on French infantry weapons and tactics.

«Le bras droit des armées»: la cavalerie dans les dernières guerres de Louis XIV, par Frédéric Chauviré (CERHIO)

Good summary of the many roles cavalry played in the wars of the period.

Pour une histoire-campagne, prés. Hervé Drévillon (Université Paris 1)

Le duc de Vendôme en Italie (1702-1706), par Fadi El Hage (IHMC/Université Paris 1)

Argued that Vendôme was fortunate to get recalled from Italy before Eugene relieved Turin and exposed Vendôme’s poor planning for the theater.

A l’aube de la campagne: l’impact du quartier d’hiver dans le déroulement de la campagne de Flandre de 1712, par François Royal (SHD)

Interesting paper discussing the diplomatic, logistical and preparatory operations of the French army in Flanders during the winter 1711-1712.

Batailles, sièges et usages de la violence, prés. Olivier Chaline (Université Paris-Sorbonne)

Au cœur de la bataille: l’expérience des combats de la guerre de Succession d’Espagne, par Clément Oury (Centre ISSN International)

Described the psychological responses to battle by officers and soldiers.

Louis XIV aimait-il trop la bataille?, par Jamel Ostwald (Eastern Connecticut State University)

Thought-piece on Louis’ willingness to order relief battles despite his oft-stated “fear” of battle.

Le sort des vaincus pendant les guerres de Louis XIV: les limites de la culture de la reddition honorable, par Paul Vo-Ha (Université Paris 1)

All the ways in which Louis’ armies didn’t play nice: devastations, bombardments, expulsions…

Regards croisés, prés. Guy Rowlands (University of Saint-Andrews)

Louis XIV, ennemi de la Chrétienté. Le roi noirci par ses adversaires pendant la guerre de la Ligue d’Augsbourg, par Isaure Boitel (Université de Picardie – Jules Verne)

Analyzed several Allied (English, Dutch) anti-Louis illustrations.

Repenser la Boyne : regards croisés, France-Irlande, par Nathalie Genet-Rouffiac (Ministère de la Défense)

Présentation de documents d’archives et de la bibliothèque du SHD

Exhibition of variety of documents from the archive’s holdings, including numerous maps and contemporary engravings.

Les contraintes stratégiques et logistiques de la guerre, prés. Michèle Virol (Université de Rouen)

Les enjeux géostratégiques des différents théâtres d’opérations de la France sous Louis XIV, par Jean-Philippe Cénat

Good overview of the fundamental geostrategic considerations in each theater of war (Flanders, Germany, Italy, Spain).

The Failure of Bourbon Empire in Europe: the Logistics of French Defeat and Survival in the War of the Spanish Succession, par Guy Rowlands (University of Saint-Andrews)

Interesting analysis of the economic/logistical collapse of France by late war – elicited some good discussion of how desperate France really was by 1712.

Un temps de reconfigurations géopolitiques, prés. Jean-Philippe Cénat

L’histoire d’un déclin ou les limites de la puissance? La France face aux reconfigurations géopolitiques de l’Europe du Nord, au tournant des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, par Eric Schnakenbourg (Université de Nantes)

Summary of the politics and diplomacy of the Baltic during the period.

Le théâtre atlantique durant la seconde partie du règne louis-quatorzien: bilan naval et colonial, par Philippe Hrodej (Université de Bretagne Sud)

Thorough discussion of the blue water and raiding warfare at sea.

Discours et représentations de la guerre, prés. Charles-Edouard Levillain (Université Paris-Diderot)

La «désolation du Palatinat» (1688-1689): du scandale à l’évènement, par Emilie Dosquet (Paris 1)

Analyzed the contemporary media debate over the French devastation of the Palatinate. Prompted some good discussion on the laws of war and propaganda.

Peindre la guerre, 1688-1715, par Bertrand Fonck (SHD)

Survey of the main painters of Louis’ wars, and the role of patronage. Louis liked landscapes.

 

The conference ended with Hervé Drévillon introducing John Lynn as the scholar most responsible for reinvigorating the military history of Louis XIV’s reign with his Giant of the Grand Siècle (1997). Lynn then provided an égo-histoire (intellectual biography) of his career up to the drafting of his Wars of Louis XIV.

 

All in all, ‘twas an excellent conference. (And I even understood 90%-95% of what each speaker said!) Its main organizers – Hervé Drévillon and Bertrand Fonck – deserve congratulations. It’s made me decide to discuss French historians and historiography on this blog more. There’s a whole crop of new scholars (many under the tutelage of Drévillon) who are providing detailed, archivally-based analyses of Louis’ armies and wars. Their work deserves to be disseminated beyond la Francophonie. So stay tuned.*

 

* There’s a plan to publish the actes (i.e. proceedings from the conference) sometime in the next year or two. There are even rumors that video of the conference will be posted on YouTube. Depending on whether the videographers got my good side or not, I might even post the link.