Profile of an HTTPer: Muzaffar
Over the next few months, we at HTTP are going to showcase our writers in a more human light – after all, most of them are human – interviewing them about their personal lives and their research. Next up is Muzaffar Bhatti, one of our engagement editors and a contributing author…
How did you get into studying History?
I’ve always taken an interest in history as an idea. For me and history it has been a gradual but steady love affair. I toyed with it when I chose my GCSE options and it piqued my interest. At college I wanted to know more; I wanted to spend more time with the mistress that had caught my eye – and I refused to look away. She had my heart, so I committed myself to a long-term relationship with her. For a minimum of three years I’d be hers, and hers only.
Why did you choose to study Crusader Studies as a Master’s programme?
Ever since my years at college I’ve been curious about the Crusades. I guess you could thank my teacher, Mr Mills, for his love for the Crusades. He had a way of teaching, he adored them and it showed when he spoke. His style of teaching was not to follow a formulaic plan, but rather to speak passionately for an hour or so. I was enthralled. So when it came to figuring out what to do next, after my undergraduate, it was easy: the Crusader Studies MA at Royal Holloway, University of London.
What do you plan to do after finishing your degree?
That is something I have been trying to figure out since I left my undergraduate. Alas, after much searching, I have found my calling: publishing. You need only peruse my previous posts to see that public engagement with history is a priority for me. In fact, it’s History To The Public’s mission statement, and that’s why I wanted to be a part of this project in the first place. To share previously unknown knowledge with other academics is the status quo; to share that same research with the public is fast becoming commonplace and that is exactly how it should be. With the advent of digital technology, public outreach has never been easier.
And finally, give us three favourites…
That’s easy – The British Library. Since I did my undergraduate degree in the heart of London it was my go-to place. After all, it has almost everything I have ever needed (here’s looking at you, cartoon and comics essay), and offers the perfect study spaces with its spacious desks, comfortable chairs and silent rooms.
Favourite quote / phrase?
‘Flip a coin. When it is in the air, you’ll know which side you’re hoping for’ – Unknown (to me, at least). I got this from the television series Boardwalk Empire, when Arnold Rothstein gives advice to fellow criminal, Nucky Thompson (season 2, episode 12). The outcome of the flip is irrelevant; what matters is the realisation that you’ve already made the decision.
Favourite (or most personally significant) historical figure?
I’ll agree with Cherish in saying that this is perhaps the most difficult question on here. Okay, I’m going to make a decision and stick with it. I choose Pope Urban II. While the Crusades have roots stretching back before his tenure and the causes of the First Crusade are numerous, without Urban II’s speech at Clermont, the next 200 years might have looked very different.