Okay, I'm promise I'm not a specialistist — some of my best friends are Victorianists! — but there's one thing I can't stand about scholars from the Early Modern and later areas. We'll be at a conference, having a good time, and I'll try to bring the conversation around to Bakhtin's theories on the novel. There's an uncomfortable silence. Finally, someone speaks up: "PhDad, we really love to hear what you think, but... well, it's just that we think of you as more of a medievalist."
Seriously, WTF? Okay, so I have a reading knowledge of Old English and the Chancery and Midlands dialects of Middle English. Yeah, I'm familiar with the differences in theology and homiletical style between Ælfric and Wulfstan. Yeah, I know the first few lines of Beowulf, Cæadmon's hymn, and the general prologue to The Canterbury Tales. Want me to tell them to you right now? But why is that all you can see of me? I could have great conversations with you about Oscar Wilde, or George Gordon, Lord Byron, or John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester. I could have some great chats with you about the differences between New Criticism and Reader Response Theory. I can even get into some of that crazy postmodernism and poststructuralism that some of your more uptight scholar-friends are too scared to tackle with you. I'm not saying I want to do anything extreme, like Deleuze and Guattari, but maybe we could get a little deconstruction going. But do you ever want to do that? No! It's always, "Hey, what did Bede say about St. Alban again?" or "What exactly was the deal with the Norman Conquest," or "What's the declension of the OE noun 'wundor' again?" Even if you do ever get non-medieval with me, it's always got to go back to the Middle Ages. "So, you're a medievalist: What do you think about Shakespeare's portrayal of the Battle of Bosworth Field?" Yeah I'm a medievalist, but I could be so much more, if only you'd give me a chance.
So next time the bones of a Plantagenet monarch get disinterred or a Pope resigns, I know I'm the one you'll call on. But please, just give it a thought and maybe call me up to chat some Romantic Era. I've got more to offer than you think.