Damn ye, cur: Richard's Poor Almanack is spoil'd!

Ortho at Baudrillard’s Bastard asks us to help him analyze the image of the peeing dog in many of the iconic prints from the American Revolution.  (There’s one above, to the right of the baby under the table, releasing a stream onto a tea caddy in “A Society of Patroitic Ladies.”)  Just click on the link and check it out–he has assembled an impressive collection of examples from both the Whig and Tory perspetives.  This is the funniest and most clever use of a blog I’ve seen this year.  Once you start seeing the peeing dogs, you just can’t stop!

Seriously, this is awesome doggy bloggy goodness.  Well done, Ortho!  Your future in academia is very bright. 

Historiann exclusive: Hillary Clinton at Haverford College today

Our embed at Bryn Mawr, E.H., has reported back on the Clinton campaign event this afternoon at Haverford College.  Last night, she tipped her hand a bit:  “The event’s theme is something about women through different generations and particularly mother-daughter stuff, I think. The campaign asked that a mother-daughter pair from the community to introduce Chelsea at the beginning of the event. Turns out, I’m the only bi-co student for Hillary they could find whose mother lives close to campus (not to mention my mother is BMC ’70). Hence, my mother and I are introducing Chelsea!”  She added, “I’m so excited that I may not sleep!”  (Photo below borrowed from the Haverford College Democrats.)

This afternoon, she filed a complete report on the event:  “I have to say first that I was surprised how spontaneous and disorganized the event felt from my perspective. My friends who were in the audience said they didn’t get that impression at all and I suppose most campaign events happen that way, but I was still a little surprised. Once my mother and I were finally put in contact with the right person, our instructions were to welcome everyone. We were also told that we’d be welcoming everyone to Haverford and then more music would play before the event really got started. I think we were probably meant to quell the crowd and focus their attention so that Hillary could make her big entrance (almost 15 minutes after we spoke).

“Despite any initial awkwardness, my mom and I had a lot of fun. I guess this was our fifteen minutes of fame. There was so much cheering for almost every sentence we said. I’m pretty sure the cheering was general hype and excitement rather than for us, but I enjoyed it anyways. If someone had told me a month ago that I’d be on stage in front of hundreds of people speaking in support of my political hero, I really would not have believed them.

“When the event started, Hillary came on stage with her mother, Dorothy, and daughter, Chelsea. A woman with a daughter clinging to her neck introduced the family and handed the mic to Chelsea. Chelsea did a quick overview of her support of her mom and then handed the mic over.

“Senator Clinton discussed improving our federal laws to support families.  She said something along the lines of not just saying we support family values, but instead we should value family. She spoke on several specific issues including the Family Medical Leave Act and creating programs that inform parents about educating their children from the earliest age. It was clear that the focus of her message was family, family, family in terms of the economy, federal policies, and education (there was a question about literacy).

“After speaking for twenty minutes or so, she opened the discussion up for questions. I’ll try to remember what they were all about and list them here: (can’t remember the first), literacy, the kyoto protocol, immigration, and that may have been all of them.

“Hillary and Chelsea both stayed to greet audience members who had fought their way to the front of the room. We told Hillary we had done the welcome speech earlier and she pulled us to her side of the security rope so we could wait to see her later. After waiting for a while, however, she was out of time and was being rushed by her staff to leave quickly.

“We got two quick pictures with her and didn’t get to have a conversation at all. I wouldn’t have been disappointed, but it seemed to me that she had wanted to speak to us. (I’m sure she didn’t hear us when we spoke earlier).”

Thanks, E.H., and congratulations and well done to you and your mother!  Readers, let me know if you have any questions for E.H., and I can see that she responds in the comments.  For other news reports, please see the Haverford College Democrats, and this news report from a local ABC news affiliate that features some video from the Haverford event.  E.H. promises to send photos, but she’s got a midterm tomorrow.  (Love that Bryn Mawr work ethic, don’t’cha?)  If she gets a chance to file them, I’ll update this post.

Major League cool: John Waters! Plus a "Tenure" update.

Well, everyone’s a “citizen journalist” now, aren’t we?  Historiann has some more movie news to report!  While she and her entire family were visiting this city (pictured at right)

a member of her family, who was in this neighborhood (pictured at left) happened to see one morning that a movie was being filmed there.  Last Sunday morning, strolling back up the hill, this family member walked by John Waters.  (I know!  How cool is that?)  He was carrying a newspaper and talking on the phone about movie business.  Some members of the Historiann family used to live in Baltimore, and claim to have seen Waters there twice, although I myself was never so fortunate.   And now–damn and blast–he has eluded me again!  (The only movie Historiann ever saw being filmed was in Baltimore, although, tragically, not a Waters movie.  Nothing to brag about–it was Major League II!)

Keep your eyes peeled for Waters’ next movie, and if it was filmed in this city, you can say you heard it here first at Historiann.com.

LATE BREAKING UPDATE ON TENUREE.H., our intrepid correspondent on the movie set at Bryn Mawr College, has been “super busy with midterms” lately, but sent in a recent update on the Luke Wilson movie.  She writes, “[T]he ‘whoa-they’re-filming-a-movie-here’ craze seems to be on the way out. I’ve overheard a few people saying they are already tired of having the big trucks and the film’s crew being around all the time.”  Those Bryn Mawr women–so worldly-wise, so seen-it-all, been-there-too.  (Then again, Luke Wilson is no George Clooney, if you know what I mean.  He’d be cute for a college professor or a congressman, but he’s not Hollywood’s top dreamboat, not even at a women’s college.)

Historiann exclusive: Big Dog in Indiana, PA today


Historiann.com correspondant Indyanna writes in today about a Clinton rally at Indiana University of Pennsylvania featuring the Big Dog himself.  Thanks, Indyanna, and keep us posted about other campaign happenings in your neighborhood!  (Photo below by Indyanna, via cellphone.)

“From your steadfast embed in Bitterminous Country: It was a luminous spring day, so different from the freak snowstorm that marked the VTech disaster exactly a year ago today.  Bubba ran about 50 minutes late, which gave the c. 2,500-3,000 locals (a mix of students and us old undereducated folks suspicious of change and clinging to nostalgic dreams of industrial revival) time to pass through surprisingly light security checks and assemble in the old time Field House.  After some remarks by local county and party officials, he bounded onto the stage like a terrier chasing his first ice cream truck in weeks. He gave a kind of discursive, not-polished but practiced and drawlingly-smooth rallying call for the Missus. His funniest line was that Hillary had been asking him to cover tons of ground in recent weeks, so he was glad this morning to find that he could be in Indiana and Pennsylvania at the same time!  It got an appreciative rolling chuckle from the crowd.  He read statistics, hit on talking points, pandered moderately where appropriate, and scored his best points on health care and, of course, tuition costs, student loans, and the future–spiced with quips about his own days with five outside jobs at Yale Law School.

“When he gave his third or fifth ‘finally,’ and said there were ‘a thousand stories’ he could tell, some folks flinched a bit, but he wound it down in good order and good humor.  It was fairly fascinating to see a town of this size turn out with the mixture of curiosity and excitement that the people displayed.  Times analysis today suggests that the two sides are dug in at about 49% (H) and 41% (O), which leaves a pretty good fluid factor, and those voters have tended to break for Hillary.  From here, he was off to about three more stops in this area, then I presume working his way east to Philly for the debate tonight.”
UPDATE, late Wednesday night, 4/16/08:  Our intrepid embed at Bryn Mawr College E.H. reports that Hillary and Chelsea Clinton will appear at Haverford College tomorrow at 2 p.m.  Her report promises to be seriously up close and personal–she’ll report back tomorrow afternoon!  Developing…

Please explain this to me. No, really.

Once again, via Susie Madrak at Suburban Guerrilla, see this post on gender and intellectual authority by Rebecca Solnit called “Men Explain Things to Me,” in which she describes the experience of being condescended to by a man who patronizingly referred her to a book that she herself wrote.  It took more than one interjection from her companion–alas, another woman–telling him that she wrote that book before he got it, and shut up.  The nut:  “Men explain things to me, and other women, whether or not they know what they’re talking about. Some men.  Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.” 

Solnit writes of another instance, in which she was lectured by a man (incorrectly) about the irrelevance of Women Strike for Peace in the fall of the HUAC (House Committee on Un-American Activities).  This anecdote is kind of a two-fer:  a man dismissing a woman intellectual by asserting (falsely) the irrelevance of women ‘s political activism in the Cold War.  Well done, Sir!  Or, as Solnit says, “Dude, if you’re reading this, you’re a carbuncle on the face of humanity and an obstacle to civilization. Feel the shame.”  Her essay will resonate with those of you who have been following the conversations here and at other blogs about bullying in acdemia.

How many of you have had this sort of experience–as a student, faculty member, or professional; in class, at an academic conference, or in your work environment?  I’ve been wondering about this issue in the blogosphere, especially surrounding Clinton v. Obama supporters and their blogs, but also more generally.  Women get pushed around and called names as women by men in the blogosphere on a regular basis.  Solnit writes only about gender, as though that’s the only operative variable when it comes to intellectual arrogance (or underconfidence), but it’s more complicated than simply gender.  Age and status seems to have put an end to most of the patronizing attitudes and comments that I was subjected to as a student in my twenties, although being in my thirties, having published a book, and being tenured hasn’t insulated me entirely.  (Age, of course, is something used against women on both ends–when we’re young, we’re patronized, and when we’re older, we’re dismissed as irrelevant and pathetic after age 50 or 55).  I’m sure that race is another critical variable in these intellectual foodfights.  Are faculty of color (men and women alike) more likely to be assumed to be students or staff by other faculty?  Do white men “explain things” to faculty men of color?  Are white women just as patronizing as men to women faculty of color?  Does sexuality affect this phenomenon–are gay men patronized as much as women by straight men, for example? 

How about y’all?  And how has this experience changed (if at all) for you as you got older and achieved greater professional stature?  Are you seeing the down-side of “maturity?”

A front-row seat at the "Compassion Forum"

John Fea, an Associate Professor of History at Messiah College, has an interesting overview of the “Compassion Forum” held there on Sunday night at Religion in American History, a group blog to which he is a contributor.  (Fea’s book, The Way of Improvement Leads Home:  Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America is hot off of presses.)  He’s got some interesting observations, especially about the shallowness of the news media generally (and John Meacham in particular!  What a shallow jerk–it’s good to know that Historiann is not the only one unimpressed with his so-called erudition on the subject of, well, religion in American history.)  Fea writes, “Meacham had a particular fascination with asking strange and quirky questions and then chuckling like a giddy little kid who just stumped his fourth grade teacher.”

Bottom line for Fea:  “When faith and policy questions were addressed, Obama seemed to offer insights that were deeper and more theologically informed than Hillary. Clinton at times seemed to ramble on endlessly without making any real point.”  However, he admits that the college kids crowd seemed very pro-Obama, and writes that “it is hard not to get caught up in the traveling rock star spectacle that is the Obama campaign. The guy has charisma.”  Nevertheless, he notes that “[t]here were also many students who were disappointed with the candidates’ pro-choice answers to questions about abortion. This issue is still very important, even to younger evangelicals who are tired of the culture wars.”

I don’t question Fea’s assertion that anti-choice politics are still important to his students, even as they’re apparently energized by the appearance of pro-choice Democrats on their campus, and even as many of them are apparently excited in particular about Obama’s candidacy.  But, I wonder if overturning Roe v. Wade is also something that evangelical women in their 20s support more than women in their 30s or 40s, who may have had unwanted or complicated pregnancies and either sought an elective abortion or had to terminate a pregnancy for medical reasons.  Just as many younger women today don’t identify themselves as feminists because they’re confident (up to age 28 or so) that feminism is unnecessary because of its victories, it may be easier for younger women to believe that abortion is uncomplicated and only about fetal death.  Women in their 30s and 40s tend to have more complicated lives–and thus, the decision to get an abortion is usually done in a context that considers the living child or children they have already, their health and future fertility, the prognosis of the fetus, and the effects of continuing with a complicated, dangerous, and/or futile pregnancy on their families as a whole.

Before she moved out of state, one of Historiann’s best friends here was a woman who performed abortions at one of the few places in this state that provide abortions.  It was a revelation to me to learn that, in her estimation, about one-third of her patients had recorded moral or religious objections to the procedure they were seeking.  (Contrary to anti-choice propaganda, abortion clinics put patients through extensive counseling to ensure that an abortion is indeed what they want.)  So, it’s clear that evangelical women and Catholic women are seeking out and getting abortions–even though they still believe abortion is wrong–and that has got to have an effect on the way they view abortion politics.  If not–if they and their husbands or partners return to their parishes and megachurches and take up the banner against abortion–that’s got to be the most cowardly and morally offensive position:  safe and legal abortions for me, but not for thee. 

Stylin' barbie knitwear

Perfect for a spring stroll through your city!  The entire Historiann household has been on a spring vacation for the past few days, and will be away for a few more.  I’ll continue checking in from the road, and perhaps posting vacation photos along with my prankish yet trenchant observations on early American history, gender and sexuality issues, academic politics, the 2008 Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, and occasionally, vintage Barbies. 

For those of you wanting some not-academic politics to get you going in the morning, check out Bob Somerby’s post yesterday, a twofer rundown of Paul Krugman’s Friday column and a glimpse of the Sunday New York Times Magazine article about idiot blowhard Chris Matthews.  As always, Le Somerby is incomparable!  Why can’t Bob take Matthews’s job?  Why, Lord, why?