Howdy, friends! I spent last weekend at the American Historical Association’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. Here’s what I saw & did, at least the not-unbloglich parts.
- Tenured Radical and I had coffee on Friday and then dinner on Saturday and spent the whole time figuring out how to silence and oppress more junior scholars, in-between her multiple appearances on the program and her incessant blogging and tweeting about the conference. Honestly, those of you who want to take her on had better stock up on your Power Bars and Emergen-C, because her energy and enthusiasm for her work online and as a public intellectual are utterly overwhelming. I’m ten years younger than she is, and I’m already at least a week behind her! For those of you who are interested, see her three blog reports: AHA Day 1: Digital History Workshopalooza, AHA Day 2: Fun With the Humanities, AHA Day 3: Remember the Women, and her always lively Twitter feed. (Excuse me–I have to go have a lie down after just linking to all of that activity.)
- Clever readers will hear echoes of Abigail Adams’s counsel to John Adams in Tenured Radical’s “Remember the Women” blog post. I also keep thinking of that scene from Lena Dunham’s Girls in which the character she plays, Hannah, asks the other women, “Who are the ladies?” (Shosh has been quoting a heterosexual dating advice book aimed at “the ladies,” and Hannah’s question implies that “ladies” is a stupid, made-up, narrow way to talk to real women, who come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and sexualities, etc., and both Hannah and Jessa resent being lumped into the notional category of “ladies”–just click the embedded video below.) That was the essence of Tenured Radical’s question for the women on the “Generations of History” panel she writes about in her AHA Day 3 post when she asked what the panel would have looked like if it had included a lesbian, for example, or even some women for whom marriage and children were never a part of their life plan.
I like these styles, although catsuits are very impractical when nature calls. (I remember these from the early 1990s–did anyone else have a velvet catsuit back then?) Continue reading
Doris Lessing died yesterday, as you may have heard. As I was making sandwiches for lunches this morning, I heard the NPR top-of-the-hour news announcement about her death, and it actually described her work as “seminal.” SEMINAL! I am serious, as well as seriously disgusted. Dr. Crazy offers some thoughts on her post-graduate discovery and appreciation of Lessing, both The Golden Notebook and her later works.
Last night I finished semi-binge watching Jenji Kohan’s Orange is the New Black and am totally jonesing for season 2. SPOILER ALERT: Continue reading
Check it out: Amanda Hess’s analysis of Jonathan Franzen’s recent essay in which he screams at the children to get off his lawn, and to take their Twitter-machines with them:
Franzen blames the Internet for eradicating “the quiet and permanence of the printed word,” which “assured some kind of quality control,” in favor of an apocalyptic hellscape punctuated by “bogus” Amazon reviews and “Jennifer-Weinerish self-promotion.” Back in Franzen’s day, “TV was something you watched only during prime time, and people wrote letters and put them in the mail, and every magazine and newspaper had a robust books section, and venerable publishers made long-term investments in young writers, and New Criticism reigned in English departments.” He goes on: “It wasn’t necessarily a better world (we had bomb shelters and segregated swimming pools), but it was the only world I knew to try to find my place in as a writer.”
Wow. Not too many white people can openly express their nostalgia for segregation or apartheid and get their 6,500 word essays published in The Guardian! But that’s not all: apparently, guys like Franzen really are victims! Of something. The important thing to know is that Jonathan Franzen can no longer “find his place. . . as a writer” in our modern dystopia. But the pre-internet world doesn’t seem all that awesome in his telling:
And then there is the tale of the German chick, told to pinpoint exactly the moment Franzen became an angry person. Continue reading
Thanks to your many fantastic suggestions way back at the beginning of the summer, I’ve finally made some decisions (and perhaps more importantly, submitted my book orders) for my fall 2013 Introduction to Historical Practice, which all of our incoming M.A. students must take. Here’s the book list I’ve settled on for my focus on “history scandals:”
- Michael Bellesiles, Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture (2000), either the Knopf original hardcover or paper editions or the 2003 Soft Skull Press edition.
- Contesting Archives: Finding Women in the Sources, eds. Nupur Chaudhuri, Sherry J. Katz, and Mary Elizabeth Perry (2010)
- Shelley Ruth Butler, Contested Representations: Revisiting Into the Heart of Africa (1999; 2007)
- Anthony Grafton, The Footnote: A Curious History (1997)
- Saidiya Hartman. Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (2008)
- Peter Hoffer, Past Imperfect: Facts, Fiction, Fraud—American History from Bancroft and Parkman to Ambrose, Bellesiles, Ellis, and Goodwin (2004)
- NEW–Ari Kelman, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek (2013)
- Bonnie G. Smith, The Gender of History: Men, Women, & Historical Practice, 2nd edition (2000)
- Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1997)
- Deborah Gray White, Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower (2008) Continue reading
“Clearly you need to restrict the dimensions to things that more or less have a right answer or several right answers.”
So says Daphne Koller on the challenges of adapting MOOC technology to teach humanities courses. (Many thanks to Jonathan Rees of More or Less Bunk for alerting me to this story. While you’re there, don’t miss his post on “This is How MOOCs End.”)
What Koller really means is that we need not adapt MOOCs to the humanities. We need to adapt the humanities to the limits and demands of MOOCworld, which operates on the assumption that everything we need to know about student progress and achievement can be effectively measured by essay-grading software and multiple-choice quizzes and exams. Who knew that some people read Charles Dickens’s Hard Times not as a critique of the industrial era and the notion that everything (including education) can be automated, but rather see it as a blueprint for modern educational instruction? Continue reading
Anachronistic image of Chaucer from the 17th century
Go read Dr. Cleveland on the uses of academic blogging, and how in many respects it is like Geoffrey Chaucer’s poetry (only with more profanity, lulz, and kitty-cat videos. Warning: he says some nice things about this blog, so file this one under “blogrolling in our time!” Next thing you know, we’ll be blurbing each other’s books!)
You can’t blog your way to a tenure-track professorship.You simply can’t. Even a gig at IHE or The Chronicle for Higher Education is not enough. That doesn’t mean blogging is not professionally useful to you. It means you need to be clear about what it’s useful for.
Blogging and other social media serve academics by bringing you to other people’s attention and building your professional network. It works largely as publicity for your other work, and it widens your potential audience while strengthening your connections. Continue reading