In my first history course of college, I learned about western history from the beginnings of the Fertile Crescent through the Reformation period. My class took an in-depth look at the life of Joan of Arc, Longwood’s patron saint, by reading Joan of Arc by Herself and her Witnesses, a firsthand account of her life. It was particularly interesting to study medieval warfare entirely focused around a single individual, as it humanized the topic.
Beyond studying historical events, I truly learned how to be a history student during this class. My most challenging course of the first semester, Foundations of Western Civilization primed me to become a strong reader and writer within the history discipline. Before the class begun, I questioned the need for me to be enrolled because I assumed the class would be a review from high school. However, the class proved to be invaluable as a public history major and provided me with the skills to approach confusing historical documents and nebulous research questions.
Unlike typical history papers requiring analyzing primary source documents and contrasting events, I wrote a work of time travel fiction for my final class project. It focused on medicine technologies in Anglo-Saxon England. My paper incorporated elements of Bald’s Leechbook, a primary source text, to legitimize my work of historical fiction. Scientific phenomenons described in the paper are also based in truth; the story was initially inspired by RadioLab’s Staph Retreat. However, my knowledge of Chicago-style citations was still developing while writing this paper; the footnotes section has room for improvement.