#StanfordSausageFest: “A return to history’s dark age as a gentlemen’s protection society?” A response from the Coordinating Council of Women Historians

Sausage fest!

I’ve been asked by the authors of this statement by the Coordinating Council for Women Historians at the American Historical Association to republish their response to the #StanfordSausageFest published yesterday at History News Network.  The authors link the specter of a return to “history’s dark age as a gentlemen’s protection society” to recent consciousness-raising efforts to address sexual harassment and assault in academia and in the wider world. Read on, and scroll all the way down for a brief note on my lengthy absence from this space.

by Sasha Turner, Barbara Molony, and Sandra Dawson

In December 1969, a group of historians organized the Coordinating Committee of Women Historians in the Profession, which, in 1995, joined forces with the Conference Group of Women’s History to become the Coordinating Council for Women in History (CCWH). Both organizations arose from divergent, but overlapping goals to support women students and faculty and to secure greater inclusion of women in the research and teaching of history. At the time of these organizations’ founding, the American Historical Association (AHA) and the history profession in general were deemed “a gentlemen’s protection society… openly supporting practices of sexism, racism, classism, heterosexism, and anti-Semitism.” With a woman historian and a scholar of women’s history now at the helm of the AHA (Mary Beth Norton), and more broadly, the addition of women historians and women and gender history to departments and curricula across the country, few would dispute that the AHA and the history profession have become more inclusive.

Yet, the recent all white male history conference held at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University seems to suggest a return to history’s dark age as a gentlemen’s protection society. Happily, the strong and growing presence of and disciplinary focus on women in history as well as the sharp criticism and condemnation (and rightly so) of the exclusive conference make clear that a return to great white men history and historians is a fantasy. Even so, the holding of this conference and others of its kind reflect the ongoing challenges women historians and women history face.

Conference organizer and senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution Niall Ferguson defended that the exclusion of women was not deliberate and that the women invited to participate in the panel had declined to do so. Yet, it seems that the lack of diversity stemmed less from packed schedules to a deliberate omission. One is hard pressed not to view the conference Ferguson organized through the lens of his acceptance speech for the 2016 Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contribution to Liberal Arts Education. While admitting that various social and economic reasons account for the decline in history in the last several decades, Ferguson argued that the changing content of history is the “best explanation.” Continue reading

Esther, encore, and farewell to the U.S.A.

Yale University Press. 2016

Friends, I know it’s been a quiet month on the blog.  What can I say?  The news moves at the speed of light these days, and it’s difficult for me sometimes to conceptualize anything to add to the frantic online conversations.  I wrote up a short article, “The Captivity of Otto Warmbier:  Outsiders, Insiders, and Mad Kings,” for Public Seminar a few weeks ago, just before his death in Cincinnati was announced.  I try to put his ordeal into context with the long centuries of North American captivities locally and globally.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

Esther Wheelwright, c.1763 (oil on canvas) 55.7×45.5 cm; © Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, MA, USA

I thought I’d also check in today to let you know that I’ll be in Boston this Wednesday night, June 28, at the Massachusetts Historical Society to talk about my book, The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright (Yale University Press, 2016).  I’m really looking forward to my visit to the MHS again, because that’s where the portrait of Esther on the cover of the book now resides.  The talk starts at 6, but come for the reception at 5:30 to say “hi” and have a drink–both the reception and the talk are free for members, and only $10 for non-members.  You can register online here.  I’ve got lots of beautiful, full-color slides of images that I could only reproduce in black and white in the book, so come for the wine, and stay for the polychromy. Continue reading

Call for Papers: Women and Religion in the Early Americas

Mary Maples Dunn, 1931-2017

Howdy, friends–I’ve got a big announcement today!  Many of you may know that Mary Maples Dunn, a prominent early American women’s historian, died in March.  Nicole Eustace of New York University invited me to co-edit a special edition of Early American Studies in her honor.  Here are the details:

Call For Papers: Women and Religion in the Early Americas

For a special issue in honor of the life and career of Mary Maples Dunn, Early American Studies seeks article-length contributions from scholars working on the history of women and religion in the early Americas. Mary Maples Dunn (1931-2017) was a leading practitioner of women’s history, as a scholar, as a teacher, and in her life as a university leader. She worked in a variety of fields from early American women’s history; to colonial Latin American history; to the history of religious women; to the history of women’s education as well as, of course, the worlds of William Penn and early Philadelphia.

The editors invite essays that consider the history of early American women, early American religion (or both) and are especially interested in work that makes cross-cultural comparisons or integrates multiple Atlantic orientations: North and South (French, British, Dutch, Spanish and/or Portuguese) East and West (from European and/or African links to Native American perspectives). We are interested in both formal article-length contributions (10,000 words) and in shorter essays on “Notes and Documents” that highlight innovative or creative ways of reading/using primary-source documents (3,000-5,000 words).

To submit, please email a 3-page CV and a 1,000 word summary of the contribution you propose to write by September 30 to Ann Little (ann.little@colostate.edu) and Nicole Eustace (nicole.eustace@nyu.edu). Please use the subject line “Mary Maples Dunn Special Issue Submission.” We will notify you of your preliminary acceptance by October 31, 2017 and final essays are due on April 30, 2018. Articles are to be published, subject to peer review, in 2019.

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My review of Adele Perry’s Colonial Relations (2015) is live at Borealia!

Cambridge University Press, 2015

Hello friends–today’s post is just a little bagatelle from my review of Adele Perry’s excellent Colonial Relations:  The Douglas-Connolly Family and the Nineteenth-Century Imperial World (Cambridge University Press, 2015) at Borealia:  A Group Blog on Early Canadian History.  This is a “translocal” history of the extended family of Sir James Douglas (1803-77) and Amelia Connolly Douglas (1812-90) that spans five generations in the Caribbean, Britain, and all of the North American fur trade.  To wit: Continue reading

Coats of Arms are bullcrap. We all know this, right?

Look what I made in 3 minutes with Google translate & the internet!

Liberal and left-leaning news orgs are happily publicizing the latest evidence of the dishonesty by the Human Stain (and his family).  He has allegedly ripped off another family’s coat-of-arms and rebranded it (you guessed it) as “TRUMP.”  I have a few thoughts that may prove unpopular, but here goes:

First, this seems to be a pretty venial sin compared to the heights of grifting and inept spycraft that he and his administration have reached in just 125 days in office, but okay:  more evidence of unscrupulous douchebaggery.  We get it!

But second, and my real point here:  historians know that coats-of-arms are all bull$hit, don’t we?  We know that all titles, knighthoods, and the like are all made up at some point or another, so who cares?  Someone was knighted or ennobled because he agreed to fight with the king, or let the king screw his wife, or loaned him money, or performed some such base and ignoble service to the crown, and that’s it.  That’s all titles and coats of arms mean!   Continue reading

Women and fashion: can’t win for losing, turn of the 19th century-style

I’ve been inspired by the recent coverage of the fall 2017 collections during New York and Paris fashion weeks to think about the many ways fashion is deployed as a critique of women’s vanity.  Here are a couple of brilliant prints I came across recently that are great to consider together.  First, we have “The Inconvenience of Dress” (1786), which mocks the late-1780s demand for “false rumps” or “cork bums” to fill out the rear portion of women’s skirts.  The poor dear needs help from a false rump because she can’t get consume enough calories to build her own, given the fashion for generous neckerchiefs in women’s wear in this period, too.  Aye, but “Who’ll not starve to lead the Fashion?” as the ditty below asks:

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More process, more complicated product? Monica Green on Twitter, digital (dis)information, and Women’s History Month

Monica Green, Professor of History, Arizona State U.

Monica Green, Professor of History, Arizona State U.

Today I bring you a guest post by eminent historian Monica Green, a European medievalist and historian of women, gender, and medicine.  Those of you who follow her on Twitter have probably noticed that she’s had a bee in her bonnet this week about Trota, a medieval healer, and her book the Trotula.  I asked her to write up a short blog post to talk about her late Tweet storms and other efforts to ensure that information being shared about women’s history was correct and adequately contextualized.  

Professor Green argues here that by only focusing on a superficial takeaway fact or two, non-historians may be distorting the fuller story or even seeding the ground with new falsehoods.  What are we to do as historians who see our work used simplistically, or even incorrectly?  The answers are even more difficult when you see journalists drawing attention to feminist causes like recognizing women in history who have been systematically written out of the story.

Take it away, Professor Green– Continue reading