The Dig – Interview with Professor Sean Field


Jean MacBride, Multimedia Reporter

As the buzz of afternoon traffic came through an open window in his office, professor Sean Field spoke into a large microphone. 

Professor Field was interviewed for the first episode of “The Dig,” a new Vermont Cynic podcast, on Monday, Sept. 23. He talked about his work in medieval history and its effects on modern life.

The most annoying stereotype about medieval people is that they were barbaric, Field said.

“Medieval Europe starting in the 11th century was a society with a rapidly expanding economy, advances in education and literacy,” he said.

Field said it was unfair to judge medieval Europe by the standards of our time.

“If you go back to Europe six or seven hundred years ago obviously they didn’t have iPhones or jet planes, but within the context of their time, they’re not a particularly barbaric society,” he said.

He used the example of movies and politicians as sources where people might get the idea that medieval Europe was barbaric.

American universities do not properly prioritize history or the liberal arts, Field said.

“I’m hoping that American universities will come to their senses very quickly and realize that it’s not sustainable to cut support for the humanities and liberal arts,” he said.

He said he had hope that there would soon be resistance to these attitudes from university communities.

“The idea that a major like history is impractical is just objectively false. History majors do extremely well in life,” he said.

Being a history major does not mean that someone is going to pursue academia, Field said.

He said one of his projects is translating medieval texts to make them available to a modern audience.

“Many of these works are in Latin or non-english European languages, and unfortunately not many Americans read those languages,” he said.

Senior Kaseya Xia responded to Field’s explanation of the technological abilities of Europeans in the 11th century.

“I know its not until around 1800 when the Industrial Revolution came, that’s how the technology really begins to develop,” Xia said.

First-year Jonathan Weisberg agreed with Field, saying that history majors don’t always become historians.

“There’s not exactly one path for any major. You usually have a lot of range, it’s just for you to find where you want to go,” he said.