Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Caroline Tully and the "Internet Smear Campaign" Against Ronald Hutton. meh.

In a recently published "opinion" piece in the Pagan Studies academic journal, The Pomegranate (link), Caroline Tully makes the following rather alarming claim:

"Pagans who dislike British historian Ronald Hutton’s book The Triumph of the Moon have participated in an internet smear campaign against him, motivated by [Ben] Whitmore’s attempted criticism of Hutton’s work."

The only other critic of Ronald Hutton that Tully mentions in relation to this supposed "smear campaign", besides Ben Whitmore, is Carla O'Harris, who is quoted as saying: "Hutton is a second-rate hack-artist whose cult is completely undeserving." (That is a quote from the comments section of a post over at Chas Clifton's Hardscrabble Creek blog: Arguments without Evidence—or without Ethos?)

Although Tully's paper claims to be based on Pagan responses to "academic research on the history of Pagan religions", she provides no further elucidation on this supposed "smear campaign" against Ronald Hutton, nor does she point us to any other sources where we might learn more about what, precisely, this smear campaign consists of.

Since Tully has failed so miserably in even the most basic scholarly task of data gathering, I have taken the trouble to put together a list of links (thirty three of 'em, so far) to some of the responses (both positive and negative) to Ben Whitmore's book Trials of the Moon (as well as links to responses to the responses). Personally, if there is a smear campaign in there somewhere, I don't see it.

Before getting to that list, though, I just want to point out how unintentionally appropriate it is that an article with the phrase "cognitive dissonance" in its title was written by someone who spews ludicrous accusations about an "internet smear campaign" while, in almost the same hyperventilated breath, claims to be trying to "defuse antagonism"!

Of all the items in the list below, by far the one that strikes me as the most important and substantial is Max Dashu's very thoughtful and detailed review (link #11, below).

  1. Trials of the Moon (book by Ben Whitmore, first published Nov. 10, 2010). Much of Whitmore's book is freely available as a pdf here (download after the jump)
  2. Ronald Hutton - Shibboleths and Moonshine? Frater Barabas, Nov 12, 2010 positive review
  3. Trials of the Moon: a brief critique Peg Aloi, Nov 21, 2010
  4. Book Review: Trials of the Moon by Ben Whitmore Star Foster, Nov 21, 2010
  5. Arguments without Evidence—or without Ethos? Chas Clifton, Dec 10, 2010
  6. From Witch to Archaeology PhD Caroline Tully, Dec. 13, 2010
  7. Some Furor Over Trials of the Moon from Frater Barabas, Dec 17, 2010
  8. The New Witch War by Donald Michael Kraig Dec. 20, 2010. Kraig attempts to defend Hutton while maintaining an even-handed tone. Kraig's historical arguments are potted and unconvincing, but his commitment to civil discussion is admirable if pedantic and superficial (and, in truth, also potted and unconvincing).
  9. Beginning to set the record straight a positive review of "Trials" at amazon by Gaius Cornelius Tacitus Jan 5, 2011
  10. Also, here are all Amazon reviews of Whitmore's book (4 very positive, one very negative)
  11. Reopening the Case for Historical Witchcraft Max Dashu, Jan 21, 2011
  12. Finally a Feminist Historian's Take on Whitmore's Critique of Hutton Feminist/Pagan blogger extraordinaire Hecatedemetersdotir recommends Max Dashu's review, while offering some very cogent thought of her own. Jan. 26, 2011
  13. A review of Ben Whitmore’s "Trials of the Moon: Reopening the Case for Historical Witchcraft" Stasa Morgan-Appel at the aquakerwitch blog Feb. 4, 2011. Very positive but basically just an endorsement of Max Dashu's review.
  14. Interview with Ben Whitmore by Star Foster (Feb 8, 2011)
  15. "Methodological Flaws in Recent Studies of Historical and Modern Witchcraft." A reissued online version of Don Frew's 1998 article with a new Introduction by the author, Feb 8, 2011
  16. Discussion at the Wild Hunt Feb 8, 2011
  17. Barking at the Moon by Fritz Muntean April 7, 2011. Essentially a vicious personal attack on Ben Whitmore
  18. Interview with Professor Ronald Hutton by Caroline Tully, May 20, 2011
  19. Ronald Hutton: Pagan God or "Continuum" Trickster? David Griffin May 22, 2011. Very critical of Hutton.
  20. Wicca, Ronald Hutton and a mystical experience by Peregrin Wildoak at the magicoftheordinary blog May 24, 2011. A breathless encomium by an adoring fan of Ronald Hutton.
  21. Peg Aloi reviews Ben Whitmore's book Trials of the Moon in June, 2010 issue of The Pomegranate
  22. More discussion at the Wild Hunt June 7, 2011
  23. Hutton and the Writing of Witchcraft History Frater Barabas once again. June 9, 2011
  24. Wicca, the Golden Dawn and the Revelation of Love by peregrin at the magicoftheordinary blog, June 11, 2011
  25. The Pomegranate & The Pagan Knight (Reply to Ronald Hutton) Another contribution by David Griffin, this time stating that "it would appear that, eleven long years after Triumph first appeared, Dr. Hutton may finally have learned his lesson." June 14, 2011
  26. Perceptions of Scholarship in Contemporary Paganism by Christine Hoff Kraemer Nov. 22, 2011 Worth reading as an overview of some of the debates around "Triumph of the Moon", but basically just a knee-jerk endorsement of Hutton.
  27. A follow-up interview with Professor Ronald Hutton by Caroline Tully, Feb. 15, 2012
  28. The Wrath of Q & The Return of Ronald Hutton another one by David Griffin, March 1, 2012
  29. Response to “Researching the Past is a Foreign Country" by erska at the nakedoak blog, March 11, 2012
  30. Of Pagans, Scholars, and Cognitive Dissonance from the PaganPerspective blog, March 14, 2012
  31. Cognitive Dissonance: It’s Not Just For Pagans! by Alex Summner, March 23, 2012
  32. Interview with Caroline Tully by Jason of the Wild Hunt March 25, 2012
  33. Aradia and the Revival of Modern Witchcraft another one from the pagan-perspective blog, although this one only mentions Whitmore and his book in passing, March 27, 2012

At the risk of repeating myself, I will now once again list some of my own blog posts which happen to mention Ronald Hutton:

The Old Religion: Getting Beyond the Noise
  1. Part One: Two Myths
  2. Part Two: "A very specific historical claim"
  3. Part Three: The Recantations of Ronald Hutton
  4. Part Four: "A Different World" (Recantations, Part Deux)
  5. Part Five: More on "A Different World" (Recantations, Part Trois)
  6. Part Six: Huttonian Triumphalism (Recantations, Part Quatre)
  7. Part Seven: The Recantation of Ronald Hutton, The Final Episode [parts 5, 6 & 7 are not done yet]
  8. Part Eight: 21st Century Pagans on the Old Religion
  9. Part Nine: Coeval With Time [this part is also still to come]

Ronald Hutton & Reincarnation:
  1. Part One: Dion Fortune, Ronald Hutton, Wicca & Reincarnation
  2. Part Two: Ronald Hutton, Tertullian, John Italos, Anna Comnena & Reincarnation
  3. Part Three: Ronald Hutton, Reincarnation & the Renaissance
  4. Part Four: "Renaissance & Rebirth: Reincarnation in early modern Italian kabbalah"
  5. Part Five: Ronald Hutton,Vergil, Ovid & GradeSaver.Com
  6. Part Six: Ronald Hutton, Voltaire, and Metempsychosis
  7. Part Seven: Erotic Metempsychosis

Ronald Hutton Versus the Witch of Endor:
  1. A question for Ronald Hutton
  2. Ronald Hutton: Witches Are "Inherently Evil"
  3. Ronald Hutton vs The Witch of Endor
  4. Witchcraft: Black and White in Color
  5. "Maleficia Ad Sanandum": Healing By Means of Witchcraft
  6. Christina Larner on the Meaning of "Witchcraft"
  7. Margaret Murray has been completely rejected by everyone ... except for everyone who has not completely rejected Margaret Murray.
  8. Margaret Murray's Thesis "Contained A Kernel Of Truth" (Carlo Ginzburg)
  9. "In the name of the Father, the Son, King Arthur, and Queen Elspeth."
  10. The Strange Case of Emma Wilby and the Wise & Cunning Witches of Britain

"The Good Witch Must Also Die"


Kauko said...

The more I read about this whole spiel it seems like the dreaded divide between Pagan practitioners and Academics is all in a few peoples' heads, particularly people on the Academic side. Most of the time these academics don't even attempt to respond to any points people make, they merely respond with 'Oh, you're not qualified, you don't meet such and such standards, pew pew'.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

The worst part of all this is that Tully, Hutton, Peg Aloi, Chas Clifton, etc, all have a strong tendency to present their own views as officially blessed by "scholarly consensus", when the truth is that there is a great deal of uncertainty and disagreement about all of the issues involved in debates about the historical roots of modern Paganism.

Scott said...

AP, I'm of the opinion that Tully's article was unreasonably offensive and inappropriate for an academic publication, but I have a hard time seeing how you can characterize Christine Kraemer's essay as a "knee-jerk endorsement of Hutton." I expect you to do better than that.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Set next to Tully's tirade, Kraemer's piece is a shining exemplar of scholarly objectivity.

Wade MacMorrighan said...

Cornelius, if there *is* an "internet smear campaign" it is not directed at Prof. Hutton (whose works, if they are as wonderful as everyone insists they are, should be able to withstand Ben's critique; indeed, as I have observed, any sort of "internet smear campaign" seems to be directed at Ben, himself! I distinctly remember how Peg Aloi (who is not a faculty member of the University she claims to be...I checked so that I could report her for gross academic misappropriations) demonstrably misrepresented Ben's book multiple times without even reading it. Then, when brave Ben called her out on it, on Chas Clifton's own blog, she defended her statements with the audacity of insisting that "she did nothing academically inappropriate"! Really?! Demonstrably misrepresenting a work and its author's position is appropriate academic protocol, now? Astonishing to me was when I fumed about this on FB only to have Galina Krosskova defend the academics in the debate by stating that what they are doing is appropriate academic debate intent on resolving the issue. Sorry, but that's utter rubbish when it involved indefensible misrepresentation! And, what strikes me as another gross bit of academic misappropriation is the fact that Tully quoted Carla's off-the-cuff message board response as though it was representative of her and the Wicca Apologia's general way of writing more respectable tracts. In fact, it seems intended to defame her, specifically, and the WA in general as potential threats to her Huttonian hubris. I must also admit what a snob she seemed during her Wild Hunt podcast interview, appearing to look down on non-academic pagans, as though we should be pitied and don't know what we're talking about or, wore, that we have no right to criticize the word of so-called *real* scholars!