Deep in the Heart

Howdy, folks!  I made it to Austin, Texas last night for an intense conference here over the next two days, Centering Families in the Atlantic World co-sponsored by the Omohundro Institute and the Institute for Historical Studies here at the University of Texas.  And then Thursday afternoon, I’ll be talking about this here blog at the Symposium on Gender, History, and Sexuality in a talk called “Cowgirl Up,” in which I’ll address some important eternal questions of the academic feminist blogosphere, such as 1) does blogging hold the promise of keeping academic more honest and true to its own professed values of meritocratic inclusiveness, and 2) is blogging a huge waste of time?  (I kind of think I’ll give a provisional yes to both questions–let me know what you think in the comments please, friends!)

The folks at the University of Texas made me feel welcome even before I arrived with extra lunch and dinner invitations to keep me entertained on Wednesday and Thursday before my talk, and the Omohundro Institute knows how to throw a party, so I’m looking forward to some interesting conversations.  (Some of you may already know that there’s a new and important research center here called the Historical I’ll check in tonight, but in the meantime, have a good Monday and play nice!

Also: I watched a bit of the Academy Awards last night in the hotel bar over dinner with friends. There were differences of opinion, but I think Halle Berry had the prettiest dress of any that I saw. We wondered: what was with all of the peachy/ivory/champagne/glittery dresses, especially on the overwhelming majority of light-skinned actors? Where was the color?

0 thoughts on “Deep in the Heart

  1. Sounds like an action packed conference trip! I was at another conference co-sponsored by the Omohundro a little while ago, and they are very generous indeed.

    Re. Academy Awards dresses: Amy Adams was the best for me. Pale girl in a midnight dress – stunning.

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  2. I liked Natalie Portman’s dress: it had colour and an understated elegance. But I know what you mean about a lack of colour: just watching a few minutes of arrivals, I was stunningly bored by all the shades of champagne, cream and off-white.

    Enjoy your conference — it sounds like it’ll be a great time with a great group of people!

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  3. Unsolicited culinary advice:

    The Salt Lick is not nearly as good as everyone says it is, although I’m guessing you won’t have the time to try it (it’s about 35-40 minutes away from Austin).

    If you’re really hankerin’ to try some of the best BBQ in the world — not kidding; Texans do not joke about that stuff — please feel free to email.

    Also, in my opinion and for the record, it ain’t “Deep in the Heart,” it’s “Deepinthehearta.”

    Enjoy Austin. (Boy do I miss Texas).

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  4. “is blogging a huge waste of time?”

    I’d say that it depends. Blogging is not a replacement for traditional scholarship, blogging will not get you a job or tenure (in most fields), and blogging can be a distraction. In those senses, I think blogging can be a waste of time.

    BUT I don’t think that blogging has been a waste of time at all for me (let alone a huge one). It’s given me an intellectual community, and it’s given me an outlet that keeps me writing regularly, which has definitely helped me in keeping active as a scholar in spite of my heavy teaching load.

    I don’t see my blog as a “professional” document – it’s more like a hobby that relates to my profession. I think that keeps the whole thing in perspective for me. If that’s a waste of time, then, well, so is watching television, going to a movie, working out, or doing anything else that’s not directly related to one’s job.

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  5. Oh, and re: the dresses:

    Color = potential fashion fail/risky
    Nude/cream/beige/etc. = safe, safe, safe, even though I feel like it washes everybody out.

    Color wasn’t entirely missing – Jennifer Hudson (orange!) Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Jennifer Lawrence…. But yes, more color would have been more interesting.

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  6. Answer to questions 1 & 2: Mostly both.

    N.Y. Times explained the dress part (I think) yesterday and today, although it would be interesting to hear the critique of the analysis here. How lucky for the guys that they continue being able to wear the same-old 200 year old blue suits.

    Enjoy the brew-ha-ha of Texazz, as a license plate in my town expresses it. About a month ago I started to get a blizzard of e-mails about some new enterprise at UTA, but it wasn’t called the Historical.

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  7. Oh, c’mon, Cowgirl. You are just trying to get a rise out of us with this horse manure about blogging being a huge waste of time. You know dang well that’s not the case, both in the terms of intellectual community-building that Dr. Crazy discusses above and, in some cases, in professional terms. As we’ve noted before, my typist has made blogging a more central part of her professional life in the last couple of years, through talks, articles, and the teaching of new courses. Yes, she’s an English prof, so there is a little more room for creative maneuvering, and she still hasn’t worked up the nerve to put herself up for promotion on the basis of the blog, but, still, it’s definitely an official part of her real work these days. Lucky stiff, I know!

    As for Oscar fashions, we thought the little kids singing at the end of the show were the most well-dressed folks we saw all night. In their brightly colored tee-shirts, they looked happy and comfortable, which could not be said of any of the women struggling not to breathe or topple over in their ridiculous get-ups.

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  8. Dr Crazy – I had an entirely different take on the color issue at the Oscars! I’m not a fashionista, though, so perhaps I shouldn’t say anything. But I was always under the impression that shades of beige/champagne/what Crayola used to charmingly refer to as “flesh” are difficult colors to pull off. [White women] have to have a perfect complexion to avoid being washed out by them, so it’s some kind of fashion badge of honor to be able to pull one off. Then the colors get trendy and everyone tries to wear them and it’s a disaster.

    I’m very scholarly today. I think paper is having an unfortunate effect on my critical thinking abilities.

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  9. Well, as a HS teacher I depend on academic bloggers to keep me up to date on what’s going on “out there” to better integrate recent work into my teaching. Our colonial/early republic history is going to get an overhaul pretty soon (in part based on whatever we see at SHEAR in Philadelphia) which is in part due to this blog (thanks Bil!).

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  10. From the consumer perspective, your blogging is a good use of time. Themes in the intersection of history as a discipline and history as an academic field run parallel to issues in my own disciplinary area and are food for both thought and conversation with my colleagues. Discussions that span blogs and areas of specialization (for example, Historiann and GayProf Teach It All, book discussions) are particularly interesting and enjoyable. I don’t have anything to contribute of course but come away from such reading with a new book or manuscript to read or a theme to pursue in a literature database. I like reading <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/ta-nehisi-coates/"Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic for similar, but not the same, reasons.

    It’s a rare fine pleasure to be introduced to a different area of scholarship in such an accessible way. I can honestly say that reading this blog has influenced my academic work and I can’t think of another blog I read for which I would make the same claim. If you knew what I study, this would seem odd. If you knew me, this would make a lot of sense.

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  11. Blogs don’t keep anyone more honest, academically or otherwise, they were without blogs. It’s quite strange to hear that some think that tools make you honest.

    Most opinion blogs are a waste of time both reading and writing. Most blogs are badly written and the ideas they convey are negligible or worse. There are some excellent opinion blogs that are worth reading; blogs such as this one, Nake Capitalism, Krugman’s, New Deal 2, John Quiggin and the now sporadic Arglachel. Clearly, there may be other excellent blogs I haven’t encountered.

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  12. CPP–the dress was a controversial pick with the women I was hanging with too. I thought it was awesome, but others thought it was too much in the pale-nothings department discussed above. Why didn’t Mrs. CPP like it? (Alas, my skin is probably too pale to pull off that shade, but Halle Berry was made for it.)

    Thanks for your compliments, Western Dave, koshem Bos and truffula, and everyone! (Again, I really wasn’t fishing. I’ve been asked to talk about this!) Roxie got it mostly right above–I don’t *think* this blog in particular is a waste of my time and I hope it’s not too much of a waste of yours! But I think that has to do with the fact that I’m a relatively isolated scholar whose research interests are marginal rather than central to her department. I’ll report more on this after my talk at UT on Thursday, but I think that the blog has value although (like Dr. Crazy) it’s not something I report on my annual evaluation.

    There is value in some labor even if one doesn’t necessarily get “credit” for it. Many readers and commenters like to cook fresh food at home, for example–this is something that might to some people look like a “waste of time,” especially if they live in well-served urban areas with lots of carry-out salads and a tremendous array of carry-out food. Those of us whose culinary (or intellectual) options are more limited may find it worthwhile to cook or blog.

    (I know it’s not a great analogy, but it’s been a long but extremely productive day conferencing and I iz tierd.)

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  13. Daniel S. Goldberg is right: Salt Lick is just a waste of time and money. Unfortunately, all the very best barbecue in that area is a sizable drive out of Austin. It would, however, be a missed opportunity if you didn’t go out for some great Tex-Mex food while you’re there. Get some locally based colleagues to give you recommendations.

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  14. Enjoy TX!

    Meritocratic inclusiveness, honesty – I say no. With one exception: Western Dave’s point. Echoed by others. A blog like yours is useful for him and others in similar situations.

    Waste of time – not at all. But then, I don’t do academic blogging, my blog is personal and arty, so it occupies a different space than academic work. It’s done a lot for me personally, though. Meanwhile, I read academic blogs and learn a lot from them. It’s not the same kind of reading as reading journals. But it’s often the water cooler talk I need, when water cooler talk on the topic I need it on is not the topic locally. I learn useful things.

    What I really wish is that blogs had existed when I was an assistant professor. I found everything so odd back then, and I had questions nobody would answer usefully, because I already knew the standard answers and nobody was willing to give other, more applicable answers. I routinely see new people ask questions like the ones I had, anonymously or pseudonymously, and get very useful anonymous or pseudonymous input and information. This is fantastic, I think.

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  15. The Salt Lick is most definitely worth the time and money. Unless you are a native Texan, or someone who has the leisure time to drive around rural Texas.

    I see this repeated all the time, and it confounds me. The food (other than the brisket) is fabulous for those of us not invested in the purest of pure Texan BBQ.

    I don’t care that much about the blogging question, sorry.

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  16. Ann, last night at dinner I talked about a back-and-forth that Ta-nehisi Coates and I had about the importance of blogging. Here’s a link to it: http://bit.ly/hxzD6O.

    I’m on the side of “not a waste of time”. I am excited to hear you talk about this tomorrow and to see what my colleagues think.

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  17. Y’all have already hijacked this thread, so I’m just going to pile on. The Salt Lick easily deserves to be mentioned in the top tier of central Texas barbecue, and I have eaten all over from Llano to Taylor to Lockhart and beyond. And there’s other great barbecue to be had within the city limits.

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