#AHA17 update: too cold & snowy for cattle parade, but not for us

aha17_programFriends, I was sorry to read this morning that the National Western Stock Show has cancelled its longhorn parade in Denver tomorrow because of the cold and snow forecast for tomorrow:  a high of 12 degrees F., with up to 10 inches of snow set to fall in the next 27 hours or so.  Don’t worry about planes landing in Denver tomorrow–most of the snow will be overnight and done with by 11 a.m. Thursday, before most historians muster for the American Historical Association’s annual meeting. Continue reading

Historiann’s guide to surviving the Mile High #AHA17

Welcome to Denver, #AHA17!

Welcome to Denver, #AHA17!

Happy New Year, friends!  As many of you know, we’re expecting an invasion of historians next week in Denver with the 131st annual meeting of the American Historical Association.  As a local, I thought I’d offer some practical tips and tricks for the coastal swells and dudes who will be staggering around like a tweedy herd of longhorns.  The AHA’s  paper program covers a lot of this information on pp. 2-4, but their map is pretty limited and you might appreciate some insider intel.  So, jump in the saddle and let’s go!  (You can also bookmark this site on your mobile device as it offers links to some handy maps and other info.) Continue reading

Most people in history were jerks.

In reading through my graduate students’ essays on their best ideas for bringing historical knowledge to the attention of a wider public outside university classrooms, it occurs to me that we failed to discuss a really important issue in doing history in public:

Most modern people look to history for inspirational figures, but most people in history were jerks.  At least if we measure them against our commonly held values in 2016, they were jerks:  Racist, sexist, prejudiced against other religions, and let’s not even get into their ideas about sexual minorities.  Just jerks!   Continue reading

Everything I learned about dealing with climate change I saw in Christmas movies and TV specials

Happy South Pole summer!  We have seen recently that climate change is already a reality in many regions in the world.  Summers are hotter, winters are harsher, and weather events everywhere are more extreme.  It’s easy to fall into a funk, but take heart!  Popular entertainment shows us the way to deal with the economic effects of climate change, if not the environmental and public health and safety consequences.  (Priorities, people!  This is America!)

There IS something we can do, if we only look to Hollywood Christmas movies and TV shows from the twentieth century.  Let’s run through some instructive examples, OK? Continue reading

John Fea & Rebecca Onion on being a historian in public

Rebecca Onion

Rebecca Onion

Last night I couldn’t sleep, so I did what I usually do when I can’t sleep, and started listening to a podcast.  This turned out to be a mistake–I should have listened to the soothing sounds of the BBC news overnight, but instead I dialed up The Way of Improvement Leads Home podcast, and got to listen to the most recent episode featuring Slate‘s Rebecca Onion, Andrew Hermeling, and John Fea.  Many of you may know Rebecca as the doyenne of The Vault, Slate’s blog about historical documents and images.  That’s how she got her start there, but now she’s a staff writer.  (Her personal website can be found here.)

Episode 12/Season 2, “How to Be a Historian in Public,” is most definitely worth your while because John and Drew ask Rebecca to let us behind the curtain to hear about her journey to an alternative academic (alt-ac) career.  Rebecca is (as we learned this spring at the Western Association of Women’s History on the Presidential Panel) very forthcoming about how it all works, and how fortunate she is to be paid to put words on the internet. Continue reading