Many of you know that for over 20 years I was a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a medieval recreation group mostly centered in the United States and Canada that focuses on the time period between 600 and 1600 CE. I was known at first as “Anne de Lyons” when I played as a student at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (SCA chapter: Shire/Barony of Mag Mor, Calontir), but quickly shifted to a nuzhen persona once I took Asian history courses at UNL.
As my life took shape I eventually took up my passion for birds and made it part of the SCA in 2006 while living in Brooklyn, New York. Now known as “Biya Saman,” I focused my research on both falconry and aviculture in medieval China, engaging in a four year long research project asking “what happened to the Derbyan parakeet” that were often talked about in some of the great poems of the Tang Dynasty.
In 2010 I completed my research and had the opportunity to present it in Chicago at the November “Royal University Midrealms” event. Here is that course entitled “Talons and White Crests.”
Why is the class important? Because ultimately it taught me how to organize my research into a smooth, easy to understand narrative. It is the beginning of my narrative history approach and the way I approach and write each Legendary Women of World History book.
Not everything from my research made it into that class of course. There was much I could not do. But the point was to teach students who had no background in Chinese history, language or culture; no background with parrots or the quirks of living with them; and no background in falconry as practiced in either medieval Europe or Asia.
When teaching students with absolutely no experience or background in your subject, I find it helpful to use a narrative method, to make it all about the story which is exactly what you find in the above course and in each Legendary Women of World History biography.
As I came to do with the appendices of my books, I deferred technical information to my class handout. Open up the handout from the above link and you’ll find I really explain how parrots and birds of prey are different (and yes, people often don’t know even the most basic differences between them). Deferring the technical stuff allows me to focus on the story and maintain clarity.
Talons and White Crests was an important step in learning how to write the Legendary Women of World History. I hope you will enjoy it.