About Paul Milliman
I believe the best way to learn history is by doing what historians do, not memorizing what historians have done. Memorizing names and dates is trivia, not history. Therefore, in each class I teach, students engage in their own (course-level appropriate) research projects. I want to help students produce, not just consume, history. Because writing history is a messy process, I want students to see and appreciate how the sausage gets made, so they can make their own well-informed decisions about whether or not to consume it. These are important skills they will continue to use long after they graduate from the University of Arizona. So, like Ms. Frizzle, I encourage students to “take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”
Areas of Study
Global Middle Ages, Food, Historical Games, Teaching with Computer Games, Maker History, Natural History, Medieval and Early Modern Perceptions of Eastern Europe and Eurasia
My current research focuses on how games--especially chess, hunting, and the tournament--reflected, influenced, and supplied metaphors for processes of political, cultural, and social interaction in medieval Europe. My first article on this larger research project--"Ludus Scaccarii: Games and Governance in Twelfth-Century England," in Chess in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age, ed. Daniel E. O'Sullivan (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012), 63-86--was awarded the Medieval Academy of America’s 2014 Van Courtlandt Elliott Prize. I also wrote the entry on "Games and Pastimes" in Handbook of Medieval Culture: Fundamental Aspects and Conditions of the European Middle Ages, ed. Albrecht Classen (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015), 582-612, and I am editing A Cultural History of Leisure in the Medieval Age (London: Bloomsbury Academic). I also regularly teach a course on games in medieval and early modern history (History 207).
I teach courses on food in early world history, from introductory undergraduate courses through graduate seminars. In these courses I encourage students to engage in non-traditional research projects and experiential learning to better understand how people in past societies experienced food. I have also embraced this methodology in my own research on this topic by publishing a non-traditional article that interweaves my translation of a passage in a medieval chronicle with historical fiction to explore why the first Lithuanian king of Poland is often credited with creating one of Poland’s national dishes [“Jan Długosz on King Władysław Jagiełło’s Master Chef and the Invention of Bigos,” in Portraits of Medieval Eastern Europe, 800-1250, ed. Donald Ostrowski and Christian A. Raffensperger (New York: Routledge, 2017)].
I also recently published an article on food as part of a larger research project exploring medieval and early modern perceptions of eastern Europe and Eurasia--“'Und gras vor spise zeren’: Migration, Fermentation, and the Map of Civilization in the Baltic Crusades,” in Authorship, Worldview, and Identity in Medieval Europe, ed. Christian Raffensperger (New York: Routledge, forthcoming)--which explores the invention of medieval eastern European foodways by analyzing an anecdote from a papal letter asking whether a Polish duke was seriously not going on crusade in the Mediterranean because he could not drink his native beer and mead there. This larger project, “Where East Meets North: Medieval and Early Modern Perceptions of Eastern Europe and Eurasia,” analyzes how medieval and early modern Europeans in both western and eastern Europe—encyclopedists, chroniclers, map makers, and travelers (both real and imagined)—invented a nearer near east for Europe, a geographical part of Europe which supposedly had more in common with Asia and the "East" than with Europe. This project has been funded by the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center, where I spent part of summer 2021 as a Title VIII Short-Term Scholar - https://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/medieval-and-early-modern-perceptions-eastern-europe-and-eurasia-conversation-title-viii
This work builds on the research I did for my first book, 'The Slippery Memory of Men': The Place of Pomerania in the Medieval Kingdom of Poland (Leiden: Brill, 2013), which analyzes the records from a series of disputes between the Teutonic Knights and the neighboring Poles, Pomeranians, and Prussians during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. This book has been reviewed by Piotr Górecki in The Polish Review, Eduard Mühle in Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung, Jonathan Lyon in The American Historical Review, Maria Starnawska in Speculum, Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński in Parergon, and Mark Munzinger in Mediaevistik. I have also explored these conflicts in two articles: “Boundary Narratives and Tales of Teutonic Treachery on the Frontier of Latin Christendom,” in Monasteries on the Borders of Medieval Europe: Conflict and Cultural Interaction, ed. Emilia Jamroziak and Karen Stöber (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013), 111-128 and “Melius ius ad terram Pomeranie: Ethnicity and Historical Consciousness in the 1339 Trial between Poland and the Teutonic Knights,” in Arguments and Counter-Arguments: The Political Thought of the 14th and 15th Centuries during the Polish-Teutonic Order Trials and Disputes, ed. Wiesław Sieradzan (Toruń: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu Mikołaja Kopernika, 2012), 123-156. This research has been supported by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the American Council of Learned Societies.