Hey, guess what? I just found out that our campus has a media productions team as part of its public relations team, complete with its own YouTube channel. I found this out because I was contacted by the head of their team, referred by our Ancient Historian (who I now suspect has it in for me). This is possibly the most amusing inter-campus correspondence I've conducted to date.
First, hir query:
"Hi, Girlscholar. I was referred to you by Joe Venerable. I would be very interested in talking with you about your research and knowledge regarding Ancient Rome, the Fall of the Roman Empire, and the subsequent Dark Ages. I’m wondering what caused the Dark Ages? What can be learn from it today? Is the advancement of technology without the equivalent moral and ethical advancement leading us to a similar end? Also, is there a tie-in with Nazi Germany?"
For two days, my brain sputtered, trying to formulate a reply. A friend at another (research-oriented) campus suggested a try to turn the opportunity in my favor, so I counter-pitched the most audience-friendly ideas I could think of:
"Dear X, I'm intrigued by the idea, though I'm not sure I know enough about the
transition from Rome to the Middle Ages (we don't really use "Dark Ages"
anymore) to fill more than 5 minutes or so… However, if you're ever
interested, I have expertise in medieval women, as well as the
poly-ethnic culture of medieval Blargistan, and all sorts of
unsubstantiated opinions about medievalism in popular culture (Lord of
the Rings, Game of Thrones, etc), and I'd be happy to talk to you."
Nice, no? Measured, helpful There were even emoticons. One will note that I tactfully left out any mention at all of Nazis -- Like a fart in church, I simply could not think of a polite way to address it.
Then, I received a reply:
"Thanks for your response. I think the topic is less about the Dark Ages and Rome - specifically…..and more about the reasons behind the fall of Rome and its possible parallel to Hitler’s Third Reich….was there any connection? Could the demise of both governments be attributed to the advancement of power at the expense of the moral decay of the society? Joe Venerable referred you, but if you don’t feel this subject would be one that you would be comfortable discussing, is there another member of your Department that you feel could address these kinds of questions?"
::sigh:: Thus endeth my first attempt at being a public intellectual.