Roundup: Talking About History
This is where we excerpt articles about history that appear in the media. Among the subjects included on this page are: anniversaries of historical events, legacies of presidents, cutting-edge research, and historical disputes.
SOURCE: History Workshop Online (2-24-13)
Manisha Sinha is a professor of Afro-American studies and history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the author of “The Counterrevolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina” and the forthcoming “The Slave’s Cause: Abolition and the Origins of America’s Interracial Democracy.”
The “Lincoln industry,” through which Abraham Lincoln has become the most-written about American, used to be confined to historians and other writers. But between the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth in 2009 and the sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation in 2013, a period during which the nation’s first black President continuously paid homage to the sixteenth President, Lincoln has come to reign unchallenged in popular culture too, nowhere more so than in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, which was considered by many an Oscar favorite. Perhaps historical...
SOURCE: WaPo (2-21-13)
Jim Cullen is chairman of the history department at the Fieldston School in New York and author of "Sensing the Past: Hollywood Stars and Historical Visions" (Oxford University Press).
A box office is not a voting booth, but they have their similarities. Neither is entirely democratic in the ways it offers choices, and each is a little too deferential to market forces. But both tell stories about the state of the nation, produced by teams that are fronted by star performers.
In politics, some of the most successful performers take on multiple roles. Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama: Their stories have offered versions of the country — where it had been, where it was headed. Some were stories of restoration, others of progress.
In the Republic of Hollywood, it’s movie stars, not politicians, who rule. And in Hollywood, as in politics, one of the recurring themes is our national ambivalence about powerful...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (2-17-13)
Charles Moore covers politics with the wisdom and insight that come from having edited The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator.
No one but the BBC would have dreamt up a “Harold Wilson Night”. It is hard to think of any other politician who was at the top for so long (he won four general elections) with so little to show for it. But it is fitting that the BBC should have commemorated the 50th anniversary of Wilson’s capture of the Labour leadership because, at the time, it loved him.
In the general election of 1964, Wilson spotted that the BBC comedy Steptoe and Son would be broadcast on polling day. Believing that the programme (about father-and-son rag-and-bone men) was particularly popular with Labour voters, and would therefore keep them away from the polling stations, Wilson went to see Hugh Greene, the director-general, to persuade him to reschedule. Greene, who craved a Labour victory...
SOURCE: ProfHacker Blog at the Chronicle of Higher Ed. (2-20-13)
Lucinda Matthews-Jones is a lecturer in history at Liverpool John Moore (UK), where she teaches nineteenth-century British History. Details of her research can be found on her academia.edu profile. She also blogs and co-edits the Journal of Victorian Culture: www.victorianculture.com. She tweets from @luciejones83.
Digital databases have provided scholars with new ways to access source material. Have we been quick enough to extend these benefits to our students? As a history lecturer, I am keen to encourage students to get their hands dirty by exploring a number of different kinds of primary source databases. Just before Christmas, I decided that I wanted to use digital sources in a different way. I wanted my students not just to find source material but also to use it, digitally...
SOURCE: Cosmic America (2-12-13)
Keith Harris blogs at Cosmic America and holds a PhD in history from the University of Virginia.
Greetings Cosmic Americans!
Of course, I believe that the answer is yes. This summer, I will take part in a panel at the Civil War Institute’s annual conference at Gettysburg College with fellow Civil War bloggers Kevin Levin, Brooks Simpson, and Mark Grimsley. The so-called “gulf” is one of the principal issues that I will be addressing.
Years ago, before the Internet opened the doors for real-time access to just about anyone anywhere in the world, the television historical documentary probably stood alone as the medium most likely to serve as the middle ground on which academic historians and an informed public might...
SOURCE: NYT (2-10-13)
Justin E. H. Smith teaches philosophy at Concordia University in Montreal. His most recent book is “Divine Machines: Leibniz and the Sciences of Life.” He is a contributing editor of Cabinet Magazine, and writes regularly on his blog.
In 1734, Anton Wilhelm Amo, a West African student and former chamber slave of Duke Anton Ulrich of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, defended a philosophy dissertation at the University of Halle in Saxony, written in Latin and entitled “On the Impassivity of the Human Mind.” A dedicatory letter was appended from the rector of the University of Wittenberg, Johannes Gottfried Kraus, who praised “the natural genius” of Africa, its “appreciation for learning,” and its “inestimable contribution to the knowledge of human affairs” and of “divine things.” Kraus placed Amo in a lineage that includes many North African Latin authors of antiquity, such as...
SOURCE: The Atlantic (12-3-12)
Sarah Carr is a contributing editor at The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education-news outlet based at Teachers College, Columbia University, and author of the forthcoming book Hope Against Hope.
It took LaToysha Brown 13 years to realize how little interaction she had with white peers in her Mississippi Delta town: not at church, not at school, not at anywhere.
The realization dawned when she was in the seventh grade, studying the civil rights movement at an after-school program called the Sunflower County Freedom Project. It didn't bother her at first. By high school, however, Brown had started to wonder if separate could ever be equal. She attended a nearly all-black high school with dangerous sinkholes in the courtyard, spotty Internet access in the...
SOURCE: NY Review of Books (2-21-13)
Sean Wilentz is George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History at Princeton and author of The Rise of American Democracy. (February 2013)
Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick’s new book and accompanying ten-part televised documentary have a misleading title. Most if not all of the interpretations that they present in The Untold History of the United States—from the war in the Philippines to the one in Afghanistan—have appeared in revisionist histories of American foreign policy written over the last fifty years. Challenged by early reviewers, Stone and Kuznick have essentially conceded the point about their sources and claimed that what they call the “revisionist narrative” that informs their book has in truth become “the dominant narrative among university-based historians.”
The real problem, they say, is that this revisionism has yet to penetrate the public schools, the mainstream media, and “those parts of America that cling to the notion of American...
SOURCE: Southern Spaces (12-12-12)
And what erudition. He can even read stone. Only he never figures out that the veins in the marble of Diocletian's baths are the burst blood vessels of slaves from the stone quarries.
Were enslaved persons involved in the construction of the original Smithsonian building, known today as "The Castle"? As is well established, enslaved African Americans worked on the construction of many buildings in antebellum Washington, D.C., including the U.S. Capitol and the White...
SOURCE: Corey Robin's Blog (2-3-13)
Corey Robin is an American political theorist, journalist and associate professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
In 1942, Brooklyn College hired a young instructor to teach a summer course on Modern European history. Though academically trained, the instructor was primarily known as the author of a series of incendiary articles in the Jewish press on Jewish politics and Zionism.
An active though ambivalent Zionist, the instructor did not shy from scorching criticism of the movement for Jewish settlement in Palestine. She had already come to some unsettling conclusions in private. In an unpublished essay, she compared the Zionists to the Nazis, arguing that both movements assumed that the Jews were “totally foreign” to other peoples based on their “inalterable substance.” She wrote in a letter that she found “this territorial experiment” of the Jews in Palestine “increasingly...