Cliopatria: A Group Blog
Aaron Bady (∞); Chris Bray (∞); Brett Holman (∞); Jonathan Jarrett (∞); Robert KC Johnson (∞); Rachel Leow (∞); Ralph E. Luker (∞); Scott McLemee (∞); Claire B. Potter (∞); Jonathan T. Reynolds (∞)
"Religion and the historical profession," The Immanent Frame, 30 December, is a symposium of responses to news of religion's resurgence as a field of historical study. Contributors include: Jon Butler, David Hollinger, John Schmalzbauer, Jonathan Sheehan, and Grant Wacker. Hat tip.
Sarah Kaufman,"Rumors abound that new Leonardo da Vinci painting has been found in Boston," Washington Post, 31 December, reports that those who know won't say and those who say don't know.
Esther Shore,"L.L. Zamenhof and the Shadow People," TNR, 30 December, looks at the origins of Esperanto.
James Dao,"Army History Finds Early Missteps in Afghanistan," NYT, 30 December, looks at the unpublished work of a team of seven historians covering the first four years of the United States' experience in Afghanistan.
So, there's remarkable vitality in history blog carnivals at the end of 2009. Biblical Studies Carnival has become so robust that its sponsors are having to rethink how it can best cover all the work it represents. Some of the history carnivals – Art History, Bad History, and Asian History – have become inert, but so had Military History. Fallow for a year, it springs to life again in collaboration with H-War. So, too, Bad History might work out a cooperative relationship with History and Policy. Art History and Asian History need only look around for likely allies and additional energy on the net.
Patrick Healy,"Falling, Falling, Falling for the Footlight Parade," NYT, 28 December, reviews Ben Hodges, ed., The Play That Changed My Life: America's Foremost Playwrights on the Plays That Influenced Them.
Anthony Lane,"Hollywood Royalty," New Yorker, 4 January, reviews"Gli Anni di Grace Kelly, Principessa di Monaco," an exhibit at Rome's Fondazione Memmo, and Donald Spoto's High Society: The Life of Grace Kelly.
George Brock,"A reporter reflects," TLS, 22 December, reviews Timothy Garton Ash's Facts Are Subversive: Political writing from a decade without a name.
Yale University attorneys argue that a suit demanding the return of a Vincent Van Gogh painting it has held for 50 years could undo American museums' ownership claims to art and artifacts worth billions of dollars.
You can tour the ruins of ancient Pompeii on Google Maps. There's no better guide through them than Mary Beard's Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town.
Tim Martin,"For want of a better word," The National, 19 December, reviews The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary.
Gabriel Paquette,"Empire Records," The National, 24 December, reviews Filipe Ribeiro de Meneses's Salazar: a Political Biography.
Carolyn See reviews Ted Gioia's The Birth and Death of the Cool for the Washington Post, 18 December.
S. Frederick Starr,"Rediscovering Central Asia," Wilson Quarterly, Summer, takes us back to a time when central Asia was the heart of civilization.
Danny Hakim,"His Specialty? Old New York, in Vivid Dutch," NYT, 26 December, features the work of Charles Gehring in translating New York's Dutch colonial records.
John Simon,"Beauty, Utility, Eccentricity, Adultery," NYT, 24 December, reviews Nicholas Fox Weber's The Bauhaus Group: Six Masters of Modernism.
Christopher Caldwell,"Arthur Koestler, Man of Darkness," NYT, 24 December, reviews Michael Scammell's Koestler: The Literary and Political Odyssey of a Twentieth-Century Skeptic.
Finally, farewell to John Henry Fischer, the father of the distinguished historian, David Hackett Fischer. The elder Fischer directed the desegregation of Baltimore's public schools in the mid-1950s and was subsequently dean and president of Teachers College, Columbia University.
Matthew Price,"The making of the modern state," The National, 24 December, reviews Steve Pincus's 1688: The First Modern Revolution.
Ronan McDonald reviews Frank Kermode's Concerning E. M. Forster and his Bury Place Papers for the Guardian, 20 December.
Stefan Kanfer,"All That Jazz," City Journal, 22 December, reviews Terry Teachout's Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong.
Carlos Lozada reviews Jennifer Burns's The Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right and Anne C. Heller's Ayn Rand and the World She Made for the Washington Post, 23 December.
Mark Noll,"Jefferson's America," Books & Culture, January, reviews Gordon Wood's Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815.
Ron Charles reviews Sheila Kohler's Becoming Jane Eyre for the Washington Post, 23 December.
Stephen Shapin,"The Darwin Show," LRB, 7 January, is an essay looking back on the conference, exhibition, and literary production occasioned by the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of the Species.
David Yaffe,"Misterioso," Nation, 22 December, reviews Robin D. G. Kelley's Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original.
Barry Gewen,"One Man's Survival Strategy in a Chinese Labor Camp: To Write," NYT, 20 December, reviews Er Tai Gao's In Search of My Homeland: A Memoir of a Chinese Labor Camp, translated by Robert Dorsett and David Pollard.
Since graduating I've become what they call an 'independent scholar', meaning I currently have no academic job but still have the irrational desire to do research. I'd certainly like to be a dependent scholar, but it turns out they don't hand out jobs with your testamur.1 Who knew?
So there are things I need to do. One is to keep an eye out for jobs. In Australia, we don't have anything like the AHA interview-fests, which sounds like a slightly terrifying (if hopefully worthwhile) experience for recent/almost graduates. Nor does Britain, as far as I know. So job-hunting is presumably less seasonal. We do have the usual job search sites, such as UniJobs.com.au and jobs.ac.uk.
Once into the job application and interview process, one useful site to keep an eye on is the Academic Jobs Wiki, especially the history section. There are also places to share good and bad interview experiences, or simply to vent. The entries are mostly about North American universities, but it being a wiki there's no reason why that can't change.
The other thing to keep doing is writing and publishing. Part of that is knowing which journal to submit to, and part of that is knowing how long it takes for them to get your article through the review process. It's not something journals advertise on their websites (and understandably so), so the only data seems to be anecdotal. Which is why I was glad to stumble across the History Journal Response Times wiki. It might have saved me some grief had I known of it earlier!
Finally, an inspiring blog I recently discovered is Nicholas Evan Sarantakes' In the Service of Clio, which is aimed at providing advice to history graduate students on the subject of career management. It's all there, from choosing a university, to conference strategies, to having a life. For me, the best posts are the numerous guest blogs from people who got their PhDs and then got jobs, mostly outsidetraditionalacademia. So it can happen.
I'd be glad to know of any similar resources I might have missed.
Steven Levingston reviews Geoffrey Chaucer's ‘The Canterbury Tales: A Retelling' by Peter Ackroyd for the Washington Post, 20 December.
Simon Winchester,"A Photo of a Smell and Other Scoops," NYT, 21 December, reviews Harold Evans's My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times.
Robert B. Townsend,"A New Found Religion? The Field Surges among AHA Members," Perspectives, December, and Scott Jaschik,"Religious Revival," IHE, 21 December, examine the surge of academic interest in the history of religion.
In Tony Perrottet's"Gentlemen, Charge Your Indecent Props," Slate, 18 December, the author of Napoleon's Privates: 2,500 Years of History Unzipped, visits some uncommon relics at the Museum of the University of St. Andrews.
Justin Moyer reviews Thomas Fleming's The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers for the Washington Post, 20 December.
Johann Hari,"The Casanova of Causes," Slate, 20 December, reviews Michael Scammell's Koestler: The Literary and Political Odyssey of a Twentieth-Century Skeptic.
Andrea Wulf,"Bed, Bath and Beyond," NYT, 16 December, reviews Amanda Vickery's Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England.
Adam Thirwell,"The Animator," TNR, 19 December, reviews Michael Slater's Charles Dickens.
Alex von Tunzelman,"After the War, Before the War," NYT, 16 December, reviews Richard Overy's The Twilight Years: The Paradox of Britain Between the Wars.
Jeanette Winterson,"Patricia Highsmith, Hiding in Plain Sight," NYT, 16 December, reviews Joan Schenkar's The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith.
Pete Hamill,"Sugar Ray Robinson, Ultimate Fighter," NYT, 16 December, reviews Wil Haygood's Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson.
Nellie McKay,"The Smart One: John Lennon," NYT, 16 December, reviews Philip Norman's John Lennon: The Life; and Suzanne Vega,"The Cute One: Paul McCartney," NYT, 16 December, reviews Peter Ames Carlin's Paul McCartney: A Life.
Finally, farewell to Yale's historian of American philosophy, John E. Smith; and Paul Berman writes of the loss a year ago of his friend,"John Patrick Diggins, 1935-2009: On friendship and history and loss," TNR, 15 December.
David Farley,"The Family Jewels," Smart Set, 19 December, identifies the top ten unlikely Christian relics, up to and including Mary's breast milk and Jesus's foreskin.
Michael Dirda,"Mystic Terror Revisited," WSJ, 19 December, reviews Joseph Frank's Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time.
Philip Hensher reviews Frank Kermode's Concerning E. M. Forster for the Telegraph, 12 December.
Carolyn See reviews Ted Gioia's The Birth and Death of the Cool for the Washington Post, 18 December; and Louis Bayard reviews Terry Teachout's Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong for the Washington Post, 20 December.
Janet Maslin,"Once More, Revisiting Anne Boleyn Yet Again," NYT, 16 December, reviews Alison Weir's The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn.
Stella Tillyard,"Georgian London," TLS, 9 December, reviews Dan Cruickshank's The Secret History of Georgian London, Rachel Stewart's The Townhouse in Georgian London, and Amanda Vickery's Behind Closed Doors: At home in Georgian England. Tillyard really ought to have tipped her reviewer's cap to Lucy Inglis's splendid blog, Georgian London.
Henry Power,"Samuel Johnson restored to his proper size and place," TLS, 16 December, reviews Sir John Hawkins's The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL. D., edited by O. M. Brack, Jr., and David Nokes's Samuel Johnson: A Life.
Ruth Guilding,"John Piper and Myfanwy Piper: art in an organic Utopia," TLS, 16 December, reviews Frances Spalding's John Piper and Myfanwy Piper: Lives in Art.
Scott McLemee,"And the Rand played on," The National, 17 December, reviews Jennifer Burns's Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right and Anne C. Heller's Ayn Rand and the World She Made.
Jamie James reviews Christopher Betts's translation of Charles Perrault's The Complete Fairy Tales (first published in French in 1697) for the LA Times, 13 December.
Louis Menand,"Road Warrior," New Yorker, 21 December, reviews Michael Scammell's Koestler: The Literary and Political Odyssey of a Twentieth-Century Skeptic. I heard Koestler lecture at Duke in the early 1960s. He was there to visit J. B. Rhine's laboratory in extra-sensory perception and denounced his audience for knowing nothing about it. He seemed to have no interest in the civil rights movement, about which some of us could have told him a great deal.
Jackson Lears,"Hard Times Revisited," TAP, 10 December, reviews Morris Dickstein's Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression and Linda Gordon's Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits.
Well, more than 18 months later, it seems that nothing much has changed. The topic has just come up at the U.S Intellectual History blog. I suppose something will crystallize out eventually but that won't be well into the 'Teens.
Jamillah Knowles,"Time machines," BBC Radio 5 Live's Pods and Blogs, 15 December, links to its podcast about history blogging and bloggers. It includes my interview about Cliopatria and the Cliopatria Awards. Knowles also interviews Mike Duncan of The History of Rome, Rob Baker of Another Nickel in the Machine on 20th century London, and Trish Lewis of St. Vincent Memories on an old town in Minnesota's far northwest. Ms. Lewis also blogs at, ... ah ... , Victorian Sex Machines.
Adam Kirsch,"Dark Humor," Tablet, 15 December, reviews Adam Biro's Is It Good for the Jews?.
Justin Elliott,"The John Hope Franklin File: FBI Looked At Esteemed Historian For Communist Ties," TPM, 15 December, reports findings from Dr. Franklin's FBI file. Elliott posts selected documents from it here.
Dwight Garner,"Chinua Achebe's Encounters With Many Hearts of Darkness," NYT, 15 December, reviews Achebe's The Education of a British-Protected Child.
The overdue, and welcome, House oral history site complements the Senate historian's site, which has made available to the public a string of extraordinarily rich interviews with a wide array of former Senate staffers.
Staffer oral histories are especially useful for those of us who study the House, since the personal collections of former House members tend to be much less comprehensive than those of senators.
And, of course, this sort of work is especially vital given current employment trends in the academy. As History Departments around the country eliminate or"revision" beyond recognition faculty positions in the topic, the study of U.S. political history will increasingly fall to historians employed by the U.S. government.
I should note that I have worked in a variety of capacities with both OHP historian Matt Wasniewski and Senate historian Don Ritchie.
David W. Blight,"America's Armageddon Revisited," Slate, 14 December, reviews John Keegan's The American Civil War: A Military History. Blight suggests a different perspective on Ari Kelman's observation that"the normally genial James McPherson" had "savaged" Keegan's book."Some [of Keegan's] chapters cite no sources at all," says Blight,"and many rely heavily on James McPherson's modern narrative history, Battle Cry of Freedom."
Josh Lambert,"Who owns Holocaust history?" Tablet, 14 December, comes up with some surprising answers.
Ronald Hutton,"The saintly Dennis Wheatley," TLS, 9 December, reviews Phil Baker's The Devil is a Gentleman: The life and times of Dennis Wheatley.
Finally, congratulations to Cliopatria's friend, Michael Bérubé, who has been elected president of the Modern Language Association.
Luke Slattery,"Doing battle for Troy over Homer's ghosts," The Australian, 2 December, reviews Caroline Alexander's The War that Killed Achilles: The True Story of Homer's Illiad and the Trojan War. Hat tip.
Drake Bennett,"The mystery of Zomia," Boston Globe, 6 December, reviews James C. Scott's The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia.
Ben Terris,"Scholars Nostalgic for the Old South Study the Virtues of Secession, Quietly," CHE, 6 December, looks at the Abbeville Institute's contemporary academic secessionists.
Farewell to Paul Samuelson, author of Economics: An Introductory Analysis and the first American Nobel laureate in economics.