Thanks to the Herb and Catherine Yardley Term Professorship stipend, English professor Patricia Craddock will be able to take a break from teaching and devote all of next summer to research and writing. Says Craddock, "This award means much more to me than I can express, not only because of the appreciation of my work that it implies, but also because it shows that alumni of the College really care about the values and meaning of the university."
Craddock is presently editing a book of English history from 1748-1760 which was written in 1761 by Scotsman Tobias Smollett. "Needless to say," says Craddock, "Smollett's history is opinionated and nonscholarly - almost as if Stephen King decided to write a history of the 1980's - but very interesting nonetheless." Craddock, who is responsible for the volume's introduction and footnotes, plans to compare Smollett's history with two other English histories written in the same period, those of Horace Walpole and Catharine Macaulay. A summer off from teaching will allow her to do a "more thorough" comparison than would have otherwise been possible. She may even travel to England in order to locate Macaulay's book, which she has not been able to locate in the States.
Reflecting her specialty in the relationship between eighteenth-century history and literature, Craddock is also writing a book which argues that good narrative skills helped Edward Gibbon (author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and other narrative historians make good judgments about historical evidence and interpretation. "After all," Craddock points out, "history is not a science like chemistry, and when we ask 'what happened?' about an event in the past, we don't want to be told, 'The laws of gravity functioned normally'; we want to know whether the man who fell out the window jumped or was pushed, and why - we want a story."