I’ve been very fortunate in my time at York to work with some amazing professors who have encouraged me to research areas that are not always accessible to undergraduates. This year is no exception, and I am currently undertaking a directed research project on Curses and Curse Stories with Professor Tony Burke. Obviously, this fits in well with my general research interests and gives me the opportunity to pursue these phenomena from a variety of angles.
Part of my course mark involves a digital humanities component. So yes, this means that there is a companion website to by research project. Of course there is.
So without further ado, I am happy to announce AncientCurses.com! This website will serve multiple purposes. On the one hand, it will act as a repository for the material I collect as I move through this project. As such, you will find handy resource guides to curses found in classical literature, Biblical stories, and other materials. It also provides research resources, such as bibliographies, online digital libraries, and other relevant websites. There is also a blog where I explore in more detail some of the more interesting curses I find and also sort through some of the issues which surround the study of curses.
While some of the pages are admittedly sparse, the website is already up-and-running. Obviously, what’s there is a work-in-progress and I’ll be adding to it throughout the year (and maybe even thereafter).
Here’s an excerpt form the first blog post:
This blog will mostly cover curses and curse stories as I encounter them in my research and attempt to understand the role of curses in ancient society. The study of cursing in antiquity is fraught with methodological issues. How do we define curses? Who practiced them? Why are similar phenomena labelled differently depending on the context? These are just some of the questions which confront those who study this area. The editorial colour which shades these practices must be noted, for what often lies underneath the rhetorical veneer are many shades of grey.
My approach is a bit minimalistic: A curse, is a curse, is a curse. My view is that plenty can be said about curses and the societies that produced them without resorting to caricatures, hagiography, or convoluted taxonomy. Thus, this project will cover a large range of material in an attempt to comprehensively survey the subject matter and find points of convergence as well as roads of departure. Among the sources are Near Eastern curses, literary curses (from classical and Biblical literature), and materials such as curse tablets and other forms of sympathetic malediction practices.
I hope you have the chance to stop by an let me know what you think of the site. In my opinion, the best part is the random curse generator on the sidebar—so you can get cursed anew with every visit.