I want to begin this last lecture in Plagues, Witches and War, The Worlds of Historical Fiction, by simply thanking you, this worldwide community of students, for making the last eight weeks such a rich and fascinating experience. You're a group of 20,000 students from dozens and dozens of countries around the world. Who have read, watched, listened, and learned together while interacting in myriad ways. And the word community can be overused and trite these days. But in this case I think it's also an appropriate term. You've created a global community of learning that has taught me personally more than I could have imagined when I first started conceiving this course. So in that spirit, I want to reflect on what we've done in this class. Where we've been and what we've heard. What we've learned together as we've read and absorbed this genre that's so important to many of us, as writers and readers. Recall our working definition of historical fiction. The definition I asked you to keep in mind as we worked through the diverse variety of texts on our syllabus. Historical Fiction is a genre of imaginative narratives, set in the past. Whose authors make a deliberate effort to convey chronologically remote settings, cultures, and personages with accuracy plausibility and depth. I hope you'll agree that the definition still works after a fashion. But one thing this class has taught me is that maybe we need to think about our definition in that same way that an impressionist painter thinks about dabs of the brush So think of the entire history of the genre for the last two or three centuries, as a great painted canvas. Every work of historical fiction, and every author writing in this mode contributes one small brushstroke. One little part of that broad definition. Each one unique in its own right. And only together do these myriad strokes of the brush create that broad and colorful canvas. Embodying the deep complexity of historical fiction, in all its beautiful diversity and fullness. To give you just one example of why I'm tempted by this analogy with pointillism, think about the relationship between plausibility and accuracy in historical fiction. And how wide a gap there is in our authors' diverse understandings of this relationship. On the one hand, we have the gritty realism of Sir Walter Scott, or James Fenimore Cooper, novelists of the 19th century who are depicting the hard every day realities of soldiers and frontiers, in Britain and America. Or the urban milleau of streets and hospitals in turn of the century New York, depicted in Mary Beth Keane's, Fever. On the other hand, we have the kind of magical realisms imagined in the writings of Katherine Howe or Yong Zay Shu. Remember that question that Katherine Howe told us she asked when she began The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. What if we took the accusers in Puritan Massachusetts at their word, and believed, like they did, in the reality of witches and witchcraft? Or what if we took that leap of faith that Yangsze Choo takes in The Ghose Bride, and invested the currency of plausibility in the institution of ghost marriage? And followed this investment out to its logical end. We've also seen in the history of historical fiction, some very different ways of thinking about time, and related issues of temporality, historical distance and so on. From Scott's influential setting of his story 60 years since a kind of rallying cry for historical fiction, to a novel like Brown's Clotel. In which past and present converge in often horrifying ways. And we've seen any number of themes in historical fiction that transcend boundaries of time and place. Themes of sacrifice, for example, as we see in the great final scene of Dickens', A Tale of Two Cities. Or the kind of collective sacrifice that inspires a great contemporary work of historical fiction, like Geraldine Brooks' Year of Wonders. With its compelling story of the Village of Eyam and the sacrifice made by its citizens. In its totality then, historical fiction is a kind of tapestry or a great bolt of cloth, but not a plague infested bolt of cloth like the one that infects the Village of Eyam. But a long and living cloth in which every living thread is woven of some small story of human struggle and survival. As you leave this course, I hope you'll pick at these threads, pull some out and examine them, delight in their unique textures and looks as you continue to experience the diverse traditions of historical fiction in the years ahead, always keeping in mind the great human strands of history that have shaped these stories, making up the genre we've been studying together. The voyage of Ovid from Rome in the Black Sea, the Muslim conquests of Iberia, the confinement of an immune carrier of typhoid fever on an island in New York, and the very long list goes on. I also want to extend a special note of gratitude to our visiting authors, who gave their time and energy in the seminars with my students here at the University of Virginia and in the forums. As well as the authors and scholars who joined me for conversations about particular aspects, of the genre and craft of historical fiction in our dialogue series. I hope you learned as much as I did from them, and from their interactions with our class. One piece of good news I can give you is that the video content, and the reading links for this course will remain on the course site for quite a while. Certainly long enough for you to view or download the videos as you see fit. And you may want to spend some time reading through the syllabus, to the forum postings and so on as you absorb what this course has taught you over the coming months or years. Finally, I want to encourage you to stay in touch with each other and with me, as your very grateful instructor through Facebook, through Twitter or my blog, to the various student groups you set up yourselves during this eight week experience. And as you continue your exploration of the worlds of historical fiction beyond this class, I hope you'll keep in mind the words of one of our visiting dialogues authors, Andrew Taylor, in describing the nature of his own dedication to the genre. As he puts it, the past sent out a clammy hand, and dragged me into it. It's an uncanny image in some way, but it nicely recapitulates the unsettling power of historical fiction. To pull us out of our moment, and imagine times, places, people and worlds beyond our own. So as you go forward, I want you to think of this class as your own clammy hand, dragging you back into the worlds of historical fiction. And unsettling you with the many modes of surprise, shock, and discovery it enables. So thank you for joining me in Plagues, Witches, and War.