On the day after ground-baloney faced, Cheez-Whiz haired racist sexist birther ragetroll became the presumptive Republican nominee for president, behold!

Dude gets my vote for Second Worst. Can you guess who's Worst Ever?

Dude gets my vote for Second Worst. Can you guess who’s Worst Ever?

Enjoy this fascinating review of “The Worst Presidents in American History,” a panel recorded for C-SPAN 3: American History TV at the recent Organization of American Historians annual conference in Providence, Rhode Island.  It features panelists David Greenberg (whose “The Last Great Republican Rupture” about the Republican primary of 1976 I highly recommend from last weekend’s Wall Street Journal), the always-awesome Annette Gordon-Reed, and Slate’s Jacob Weisberg, all of whom are presidential biographers and have loads of thoughtful ways of thinking about successful versus unsuccessful presidencies.  And our pal Claire Potter, AKA Tenured Radical, is the panel Chair! Continue reading

The WAWH is coming to Denver! (Or, let’s see if we can advertise this conference for less than $5 million.)

Giddyap!

Giddyap!

The Western Association of Women Historians is coming to Denver in just a few short weeks, May 12-14.  We’ve got a fantastic program with a LOT of star power–if you’re in the area, stop by for just a day, or stay for the whole conference!  If you’re flying in from out of state, you can take advantage of the brand-spankin’-new train from Denver International Airport to Union Station in Denver*, which is just one mile from our conference hotel (and a free Mall Ride shuttle bus away.)

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Where in the world is Historiann?

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La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencies/City of Arts & Sciences

Hello, friends–I’m back from Valencia, Spain, where I attended last week’s European Social Science History Conference. It’s a big conference–I had no idea how big–and it was an honor to meet and interact en Inglés with so many European historians and other scholars.  I’m always in awe of people who can manage to give papers and communicate in a language besides their native tongues.  We Anglophones are truly put to shame by our European colleagues’ virtuosity & daring.

Click on the video clip for a little sonic atmosphere–more trenchant commentary and my holiday snaps on the flip. Continue reading

A (Bull$!t) Mountain of Magical Thinking

You know those old stories in which a reporter for the New York Times or the Chicago Tribune drops in on the MLA’s (Modern Language Association) or the AHA’s (American Historical Association) annual meeting, drops in on a few panels with arcane subjects or papers, and then proves his or her thesis that modern academics are completely out-of-touch intellectuals discussing easy-to-caricature topics like queering the Peabody sisters or disability and turn of the 20th century American freak shows?

Well, one of ours has gone to Davos, and comes back with a very dispiriting report on the stupidity and naivety of our supposed betters (or at least richers).  UC Santa Barbara historian of technology Patrick McCray has pubished his report on what he saw at Davos last week, and it wasn’t good.  Over on his blog, The Leaping Robot, he writes about his invitation there to give a talk, and thought he’d give the proceedings there a little more respect than that offered by said Times or Trib reporter at modern literature and history conferences:

In accepting the WEF’s invitation to Davos, I tried to put aside some of my professional skepticism or at least channel it into more productive (i.e. less snarky) channels. In other words, I sought a line between stick-in-the-mud historian barking “It’s more complicated than than!” and being a starry-eyed Kool-Aid imbiber. I wanted to find a way to reach out to Davos Man in language he/she understood. Maybe I could even help pump the stomachs, idea-wise, of those that had consumed too much innovation Kool Aid.

I called my Betazone talk “innovation’s shadow.” In the time I had, I wanted to gently question some of the concepts of a 4th Industrial Revolution. I also hoped, to pour some mild acid on the prevailing innovation-centric view of technology that gives far too much agency to entrepreneurs and other “creative disrupters.”

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Deeds not Words: Alice Paul makes the Google doodle today

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Alice Paul, 1915

Check it out here.  For more on Alice Paul and her National Women’s Party–which offered the closest thing to militant suffrage in the U.S. in the 1910s–see this blast from the bloggy past, as well as my thoughts on Paul and the art of biography here.

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Vicki Ruiz, outgoing AHA President

I’m just back from the American Historical Association annual conference in Atlanta last weekend.  I was involved in meetings most of Friday and Saturday, so wasn’t able to attend even a single panel or roundtable.  But I did see Vicki Ruiz’s inspiring Presidential Address, and have a few other observations to share in a later post, fingers crossed. Continue reading

The WAWH is coming to Denver!

Mt. Audubon (image credit), Colorado U.S.A.

I love it when history conferences come to the neighborhood, especially when they’re ones that I’m interested in attending.  I’ve traveled to other western cities to attend the WAWH before, so of course I’ll be at the Western Association of Women Historians in Denver next May 12-14!  The most important date for you to keep in mind is September 18, 2015, which is the deadline for the call for papers.  Continue reading

Beyond the Binary: Trans* History in Early America

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Fall 2014 special issue

Rachel Hope Cleves has a detailed and interesting report on a panel she convened earlier this month at the Annual Meeting of the American HIstorical Association in New York City over at Notches: (Re)marks on the History of Sexuality. This panel was an outgrowth of a special issue of Early American History she edited for Fall 2014 on the subject of Beyond the Binaries:  Critical Approaches to Sex and Gender in Early America.

Cleves describes each of the four panelists’ contributions, describing their work on flexibly-gendered or trans* people and describing the conversation among the panelists and the audience on the salience of gender binaries as well as the value of reading trans* identities into the more distant past of early America.  I thought this exchange was particularly interesting on the question of viewing early America as a “golden age” of gender flexibility and trans* possibilities:

Questions from the floor followed, sparking productive disagreements. Questions from Kathryn Falvo, Maddie Williams, and Jesse Bayker, pushed [Sean] Trainor’s observation of the optimistic bent of the special issue. Trainor suggested that variations in the expression of masculinity in early America need not be treated as “assaults” but could be understood as tolerated iterations. [Greta] LaFleur stressed that her attention to the wide-range of non-binary gender expression in early America was not optimistic but intended as a corrective to the paucity of alternative stories. She announced herself willing to work in the speculative mode, not just the declarative. [Scott] Larson went further, insisting that he felt an ethical imperative to make bold claims for trans* history, and to escape the “land of caveats” in which academic history often operates.

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