Friday, October 25, 2013

A historical fiction presentation: my small contribution to Open Access Week

Open Access Week, taking place between October 21-27 of this year, is an annual worldwide event that celebrates free public online access to research and scholarship.  At my library, we're observing it by promoting our institutional repository, The Keep.  (Not only is it meant to be a place for archiving Eastern Illinois University's administrative records and creative output, but our main admin building looks like a castle.  Hence, The Keep.)

Along with many other faculty, I maintain a SelectedWorks page in The Keep with links to articles, some book reviews, and previous presentations I've given at conferences.  This past week I decided to upload a PowerPoint I've adapted for several conference talks, most recently for a 90-minute webinar I gave over Skype to the Concord Free Public Library (Concord, Mass.) on Bastille Day two years ago.

It provides a basic overview of historical fiction and its subgenres, and there are detailed notes included. To access it, visit this link and click on Download.  Although it was presented to public librarians, the material is pretty general.  Rather than let it sit on my hard drive gathering virtual dust, I thought I'd put it out there on the chance someone might find it interesting and/or useful.  Because it's from 2011, some of the historical fiction trends mentioned are no longer as popular as they used to be, while new ones  have risen in importance.  I think much of it has held up well over time, though. Comments welcome!


  1. A very interesting and useful power point. Thanks for posting. Coincidentally, I just read an interesting paper on the purpose of historical novels when they were being written in the 1790s and 1800s. The Authority of the Imagination in an Age of Wonder by Andrew Cayton and found in the Spring 2013 volume of the Journal of the Early Republic

  2. Thanks for the heads-up on that piece - looks like I can get the article online through my library's Project Muse subscription, so I'll check it out. I'm currently taking an online course that covers the background to the historical novel, so this should be timely. Appreciate your taking the time to look at the powerpoint, too!

  3. I agree with WarScholar, very interesting and useful power point. I rememner going to the library are reading your guide Historical Fiction !! (alas, they didn't have the other book) before I started blogging and reading blogs. I have actually gone back and referred to it again and again (it's in the research branch of the NYPL).
    Imagine delight when I found your blog - historical fiction is my absolute favorite genre.
    So, thank you for keeping us all current and informed.

  4. Hi Alex, thanks for your comments! Oh cool - I''m happy to hear the NYPL has a copy of the first book. (Not as many libraries bought the second one - maybe thinking that it overlapped too much with v.1, even though it really doesn't.) I enjoy your blog very much as well. It's turned me on to many books for younger readers about WWII. I had had no idea there were so many of them!

  5. Thank you for making the presentation available to readers and authors. It would be great if retailers would adopt your classification scheme so that we would all be using the same definitions!

  6. There are a lot of different definitions and classifications out there! Some of the categories Amazon uses for historical novels are similar to what I have - historical fantasy, mystery, religious - but they also go by time/place (which I also do, though at the secondary level).