Wednesday, May 4, 2016

7 Questions with Caroline Wazer, Staff Writer at

Caroline Wazer is a staff writer at HistoryBuff, a new online community based around a love of history. She's also a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University, where she is working on a dissertation about urban sanitation and conceptions of health in the early Roman Empire. 

1. How and/or when did you get you hooked on history?
I've been obsessed with history for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I devoured historical fiction—I was especially interested in reading about everyday life for children in the 19th century, but could get excited about any time period. It probably helped that I grew up in Massachusetts, which is chock-full of historic sites.

2. What role does history play or has it played in your personal life?
Many of my friends are also very interested in history, even if they aren't historians professionally. I'm also a sucker for well-done historical TV shows, like HBO's Rome and Cinemax's The Knick

3. How is/How was history a part of your professional life/career?
In addition to being a staff writer at HistoryBuff, I'm also finishing my Ph.D. in ancient history—so not a day goes by that I don't do some form of work related to history. I love diving deep into historical sources, but also think it's very important for academic historians to engage with the broader public. I'm very lucky to be able to do both professionally.

4. Why is studying/knowing history important?
History helps us make sense of the world around us. The really fun thing about history is that the more you learn, the more seemingly unconnected parts of the past start to fit together, like a puzzle. 

5. What is your favorite period or aspect of history to learn about and why?
I have a lot, but one aspect that always fascinates me is how societies throughout history have dealt (or not dealt) with urban sanitation. It's a fun topic because it pulls together a lot of different aspects of history: the history of science, economic history, political history, demographic history, cultural history... the list goes on. It's also full of gross anecdotes that are great fun to pull out at dinner parties.

6. What’s the story behind HistoryBuff?
HistoryBuff is a brand-new platform that encourages any and all people who love history to come together and share fascinating stories. Most of our writers and readers don't have history degrees or jobs in history, and we think that's great. We've been blown away by how quickly our audience has grown since we launched just four months ago—and it's amazing to see how excited our readers and community members are to learn about and have fun with history.

7. What stories currently on do you find most interesting?
One piece I recently wrote—about a 1936 WPA-funded, all-black production of Shakespeare's Macbeth that became a smash hit around the United States—has stuck with me. The Great Depression is not a period I've spent much time on since high school, and it was a surprise to come across this cutting-edge piece of art that ended up being really popular even in the Jim Crow South. 

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