So, 5 years ago I would have had a million answers to this question. Growing up, I always thought I was born in the wrong time. I had a million stories in my head about what I would have been like and how great my life would have been had I been born in an earlier time period. SN: 95% were FanFic with Desi Arnaz. Well, then my senior year in college, grad school, and Tumblr came around and I learned about misogyny and feminism and all that good stuff. I’ve also been told on numerous occasions that my white privilege goes back through the ages too, so my time travel should take that into consideration and make sure not to appropriate other cultures. It was drilled into my head that no woman should want to live in an earlier time because we are more liberated now than ever (debatable, but I’m just telling you what I was told) and yada yada yada. While I can agree and see where people are coming from, to an extent, I still think about going back in time! OFTEN!
If I ever wrote nonfiction, it would definitely be historical novels because I love imagining living in a different era.
One of my favorite historical novels (it’s actually not a novel because it’s based on primary source court documents from Renaissance Florence) is Giovanni and Lusanna: Love and Marriage in Renaissance Florence by Gene Brucker!
I heard someone say something the other day, along the lines of: you know, no one ever wants to be reincarnated as a normal person, it’s always someone rich or famous. I am kinda guilty. I definitely, definitely don’t think I’d like to be a peasant in any time period…maybe that’s the history student’s curse, I have to consider gender and class when I think about this question. I can’t just say, I want to go back to the 50s because there are too many variables to consider.
Anyway, now that I’ve provided enough back story and tried to insulate myself from making anyone mad with my answers, I would live in several different times if I had the chance.
I would definitely like to live in Venice as a noblewoman in the 14th or 15th century. It would be awesome to go to balls and have boyfriends (a lot of noblewomen in Venice had boyfriends because their husbands were old as the hills due to inheritance law stuff) and nice clothes. But then you have to think about the plague, shipping your babies off to the wetnurse, the clap, and other nasty stuff, so I wouldn’t want to live my whole life there, haha. I have an affinity for Venice (I wrote my Master’s thesis about it) because I found out a couple of years ago that my maternal grandfather’s family originated there and my great uncle traced it back to the 1430s!
I would also like to live in Cuba in the late 40s and early 50s. I’d probably choose to be a male waiter or showgirl in Havana. I obviously know there were issues, but this era and location always seems so romantic to me. The dinner clubs, the Mafia, the music, the fashion…everything. I would love to experience living there and also living in a time just before the revolution when tensions are rising and people are going balls to the walls gambling and drinking and partying, just before the world changed forever with the Cold War-Cuba being pivotal with that whole mess.
I would also love to be a Korean queen in the Silla dynastic period. I have to be honest and say this is soley based on my love of Korean dramas and all of the dramas I’ve seen that portray royal Korean women during the various dynastic rules of Korea. I first started watching Korean dramas in the late 90s with my neighbor in our apartment complex in Hawaii. She was in her late 30s then and loved historical dramas. The costumes are what draw me in the most, but also the fact that there were women rulers at such an early time in history that had agency and power. These period dramas fascinate me! Feel free to check them out!
I would also like to go back in time and be an explorer in the Pacific. Yet again, I know colonizing people is no bueno, but I would have loved to sail the Pacific and land in Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, and some of the other island nations. It would be so cool to be one of the first people to catalog their history, religion, languages, and natural environment. I love those old books with drawings of plants where scientists found new species and were able to send back their knowledge to the metropole for others to study. The thought of being out in the open ocean on a huge ship and exploring areas that no one else you’ve ever met or ever will meet has seen would be amazing. Sans scruvy and diarrhea 😬
I could go on and on, but I’ll quit with 5.
I would also have loved to live in Hawaii, either before the British came as a Hawaiian warrior on the Big Island or Maui or during the colonial period as a king or queen. I grew up in Hawaii and thought the history was so interesting. Just this weekend I watched the Merrie Monarch Festival online and the Academy of Hawaiian Arts Kane Kahiko routine was based on an event surrounding the election between David Kalakaua and Queen Emma. The entire period of independent Hawaiian rule is so neat. It wasn’t until a year or so ago that I found out that the Kingdom of Hawaii had operating consulates in Europe! I am itching to write a paper or article about Hawaiian diplomacy in Italy. How cool would it have been to be a diplomat from Hawaii, stationed in Rome in the 1800s!??!
So, there are my history nerd answers! Would you like to have lived in a different time period? When? Where? Why?
I have a big paper due next Wednesday, so I probably won’t get to respond next week. Talk to you guys week after next!