This page includes, in addition to news about historians, news about political scientists, economists, law professors, and others who write about history. For a comprehensive list of historians' obituaries, go here.
SOURCE: NYT (click here to watch video) (4-10-09)
SOURCE: Perspectives (AHA mag.) (4-1-09)
I served for nearly 10 years as a member of the committee, 5 of them as chairman. On December 10, 2008, I resigned to protest mismanagement of the State Department’s Office of the Historian, which is responsible for production of the series. For well over a year, members of the staff had reported to us examples of cronyism, favoritism in promotions, and forced resignations as well as vulgar language—obscenity extraordinary even by Texas standards. I witnessed a general atmosphere of mistrust and plummeting morale. In government as well as academic life there comes a point when management style or leadership converges with public responsibility. There also comes a time to speak out. Having made no progress among higher echelons in the State Department, in September I asked for testimony myself. I knew that I might have crossed the line of legislative authority into personnel matters. I am unrepentant. Having concluded that the office had become an intolerable place to work, I felt compelled to act....
SOURCE: Martin Kramer at his blog, Sandbox (4-12-09)
Last spring , Columbia promoted Massad to associate professor, a rank from which he could be tenured. Did the list of publications he submitted include Desiring Arabs as forthcoming from Harvard? If so, on what basis? What went wrong for Massad at Harvard University Press?...
Since Massad paraded the Harvard credential when he needed it, he should explain why it's evaporated. And if the elusive book figured in Columbia's promotion decision, the university should investigate Massad's conduct—again.
So did Columbia ever look into that Harvard mystery? Massad himself (perhaps in response to my post) gave his explanation in the acknowledgments to Desiring Arabs (pp. xiii-xiv). It turns out that it hinges on Edward Said:
Edward [Said] read drafts of three chapters of the book.... [During] the conference celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of Orientalism in April 2003, he asked me if I would be interested in publishing the book in his Harvard University Press (HUP) series. I was in disbelief of this unexpected praise. I prepared a proposal quickly and sent it to him and then forwarded it to the HUP editor. The HUP approved the contract for the book several months later, in September—two weeks before Edward's death.... He called me on his cellular phone from the car while on his way home from yet another chemotherapy treatment at the hospital. "Any word from Harvard?" he asked. I told him that I had just heard half an hour earlier. He was thrilled. I was ecstatic.
Unfortunately, a few weeks before production was set to begin, the HUP editor and I realized that we had differing visions for the book, and we parted ways.
So the mystery has begun to unravel. "Forthcoming from Harvard University Press" was yet another Columbia inside job. At the time, Edward Said was the general editor of an HUP book series entitled Convergences. HUP apparently accepted Massad's book provisionally for publication in Said's series, on the basis of the proposal and Said's reading of a few chapters. But after HUP had the complete manuscript—and Said was no longer editor of the series—its own editor rejected Massad's finished product. ("We parted ways" is an amusing euphemism.) Presumably, this decision would have been based, at least in part, upon readers' reports on the completed manuscript. (At university presses, anonymous peer review is a precondition of publication. All books accepted as proposals still must be vetted.)
The president and trustees of Columbia University, if they haven't already approved Massad's tenure, might well bear HUP's decision in mind. Absent Edward Said, Massad must be judged strictly on his own merit. And they might take some interest in precisely why Massad's book failed to make the cut at Harvard. "My books are not controversial at all in academe," Massad recently steamed in a tirade against a critic of Desiring Arabs, "and [to] the extent that I am said to be 'controversial' at all, I am so for the New York tabloid press and for Campus Watch, and now for some right-wing gay newspapers upset with my book." Well, at Harvard University Press, they were less than impressed.
Footnote: The latest on Massad's book comes from Dror Ze'evi in the American Historical Review. Ze'evi is the author of Producing Desire: Changing Sexual Discourse in the Ottoman Middle East, 1500-1900 (University of California Press). Money quote: "If Massad's evidence is to be trusted, then he is completely wrong in his conclusions." But move on, folks, no controversy here—at all.
Martin Kramer: The hypocrisy of Massad 4/13/09
Joseph Massad should have no place on the faculty of a world-class institution of higher learning, let alone a university located in New York. He showed himself to lack the quality of mind and temperament necessary to serve among the Columbia professoriate.
Massad is a Jordanian-born Palestinian who teaches in the department of Middle East and Asian languages and cultures. That he does not belong in Morningside Heights became clear in 2005, when a university investigation concluded he "exceeded commonly accepted bounds" of teaching.
How? By threatening to banish a student who had asked a question that challenged Massad's Israel-is-evil point of view. "If you're going to deny the atrocities being committed against Palestinians, then you can get out of my classroom," he said.
On another occasion, Massad demanded that a student, a former Israeli soldier, tell him how many Palestinians he had killed.
Said to be a scholar of contemporary Arab politics and culture, Massad crosses into lunacy regarding Jews. In one article, he proclaimed that Jews are infected by a mass psychosis that drives them to persecute Palestinians, put Israel's record on a par with Nazi mass murders and said Palestinians are the "real Jews" while Jews are the real anti-Semites.
Although Massad had grossly violated a student's academic freedom, Columbia chose to consider his fitness in its process for granting tenure, or lifetime appointment. Generally, professors leave if they don't get tenure.
In October, there was hope Columbia would dump Massad after Provost Alan Brinkley moved to block his tenure. But now, a crackpot California professor writes on a blog that the university gave Massad its blessings.
In a message addressed "to all the Zionist hoodlums out there," As'ad AbuKhalil wrote that "dear Joseph Massad deservedly received his tenure." This happened, he went on, despite "dirty tricks" and "sinister propaganda" by said Zionist hoodlums....
SOURCE: http://www.press.uchicago.edu (4-13-09)
Question: As a historian of medieval Christian, Jewish, and Muslim thought, how do you view the relationship between the three religions of the book and philosophical activity? In particular, do you think there is a difference between theology and philosophy in Christianity, and between Kalām and falsafa in Islam?
Rémi Brague: There are many differences, but they are interconnected. On the one hand, there is a tension within each of those two religions between a theological pole and a philosophical pole. But there is also a vast gap between theology in Christianity and Kalām in Islam, and between philosophy in Christianity and in Islam, where it is called falsafa. Consequently, the tensions between those two poles are by no means produced or negotiated in the same way.
Institutionalized Philosofia and Private Falsafa
The major difference between philosophy and falsafa is perhaps social in nature; it resides in the word “institutionalization.” In Islamic lands, falsafa remains a private affair, a matter for individuals in fairly restricted numbers. The great philosophers of Islam were amateurs, and they pursued philosophy during their leisure hours: Farabi was a musician, Avicenna a physician and a vizier, Averroes a judge. Avicenna did philosophy at night, surrounded by his disciples, after a normal workday. And he did not refuse a glass of wine to invigorate him a bit and keep him on his toes. Similarly, among the Jews, Maimonides was a physician and a rabbinic judge, Gersonides was an astronomer (and astrologer), and so on. The great Jewish or Muslim philosophers attained the same summits as the great Christian Scholastics, but they were isolated and had little influence on society.
In medieval Europe, philosophy became a university course of studies and a pursuit that could provide a living. It also supported a mass of untenured, garden-variety “philosophy profs,” few of whom have left their names in the manuals, even though we can exhume their courses, which we discover to be full of surprises. But these were the men who made it possible for philosophy to make a profound impact on the minds of the jurists, physicians, and others they taught, hence for it to become a factor in society.
This had an important effect on the relationship between philosophy and theology. You can be a perfectly competent rabbi or imam without ever having studied philosophy. In contrast, a philosophical background is a necessary part of the basic equipment of the Christian theologian. It has even been obligatory since the Lateran Council of 1215. In Christianity, the tension between philosophy and theology can be said to be vertical, setting apart people who had followed the same course of studies, given that all theologians began by studying philosophy. The two disciplines spoke the same language. In Islam, the tension between Kalām and falsafa was horizontal, distinguishing between specialists in different disciplines, all of whom contested the legitimacy of the other camp’s methods.
Theology is a Christian specialty. To be sure, several religions developed stores of knowledge, at times of an extremely high degree of technicality and subtlety, concerning the adventures of the gods, regulating the cult due to them, and explaining their commandments, when such had been emitted. But “theology” as a rational exploration of the divine (according to Anselm’s program) exists only in Christianity.
The Word and the Book
In the final analysis, this is true because of what permits a theology to exist—that is, because of the logos and its status in the various religions. Here I have to correct an expression in your question. You speak of the “three religions of the book.” The expression has become current, but it is deceptive. First, because people often imagine that it translates the Arabic for “people of the book” (ahl al-kitāb), which is a technical term designating the religions that preceded Islam and whose adherents, because they possessed a holy book, had the right to a “protected” (ahl al-dhimma) juridical status that was recognized by the Muslim community. In that sense, the term excludes Islam itself. If, on the other hand, we take the term in the broader, non-technical, sense, it includes Islam.
But at that point we see that the expression conceals a second trap, symmetrical to the first: it implies that in these three religions, which do, in fact, have a book—as do other religions—the contents of revelation would be that book. As it happens, however, in Judaism that content is the history of God with his people, whom he liberates and guides by giving them his Teaching (torah); In Christianity, it is the person of Christ, who, for Christians, is a concentrate of the previous experience of Israel. The written texts record that history, or, in the case of the Talmud, gather together the discussions of the scholars regarding the interpretation and application of the divine commandments. But in no way do those books constitute the actual message of God to humankind. It is only in Islam that the revealed object is the Book. In the final analysis, the only religion of the book is Islam!
Why does this matter? Because the very way in which the god speaks, the very style of his logos, decides how that logos can be elaborated. If the divine word is a law, it has to be explicated and applied with maximum precision. But that law says nothing about its source. If that divine word is a person—and, inversely, if that person is a word stating who is its emitter—that is one step toward a certain knowledge of God....
SOURCE: UPI (4-11-09)
Scott joined the museum in 1963 when it was known as the National Collection of Fine Arts and helped raise the Smithsonian Institute site's stature, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.
"Scott determined to build the NCFA into a museum of consequence," author Sophy Burnham said in her "The Art Crowd" book about the New York and Washington art worlds. "He wanted it to be the equivalent of the Whitney or the Tate -- vital, vibrant, fashionable, discussed, a force in the art world."
SOURCE: Press Release--Emory University (4-7-09)
HDOT.org was founded following the well-known David Irving v. Penguin UK and Deborah Lipstadt libel trial. Holocaust denier Irving sued Lipstadt and her publisher for calling him a denier who knowingly twists and distorts the truth of the Holocaust. A British judge found Irving to be an active Holocaust denier whose writings on the topic included both anti-Semitic and racist elements.
Despite the success of the Irving trial, online Holocaust denial has increased significantly in the past few years, says Lipstadt. "Deniers are attacking the entire history of the Holocaust piece by piece," she says. "Our site puts basic, easily accessible information into the hands of people encountering sophisticated content designed to confuse them."
At each of the new sites, visitors will be greeted by a complete parallel home page, site navigation and content in their language of choice. They will be able to search the site's database in the new languages as well.
The new sites are available at: arabic.hdot.org, farsi.hdot.org, russian.hdot.org and turkish.hdot.org or via www.hdot.org.
"This project significantly expands the reach of HDOT.org in regions of the world where a significant amount of Holocaust denial is happening," says Lipstadt.
In addition, HDOT.org has added significantly to its offering of more than 30 Myth/Fact sheets, available in all five languages. These Myth/Fact sheets address Holocaust denial head-on by listing various claims made about the Holocaust by deniers and providing the historical evidence that shows them to be false. Over the past two years, the Myth/Fact sheets have been HDOT.org's most popular destination....
SOURCE: http://www.cibmagazine.com (4-1-09)
CIB caught up with the University of California-Irvine professor at the Shanghai Literary Festival last month to discover more about his methodology and hear his views on the past, present and future of China’s largest city.
When did you start researching the book?
I started about 10 years ago. I have been visiting Shanghai ever since 1986, but a lot of what I wrote in the beginning I had to throw away because Shanghai changes so quickly.
Did your views on Shanghai alter during this long process?
Initially, my viewpoint was that Shanghai’s claim to be China’s most cosmopolitan city and a major international hub that connected China to the rest of the world was overstated.
But after successive visits to Shanghai, I actually began to think the city was living up to its own exaggerated reputation. So I started to focus on how the re-globalization of Shanghai was different from its earlier globalization more than 100 years ago.
You use the concept of “global” Shanghai and apply it to the 1850s, when that concept did not exist. What was the exact language of globalization back then?
A global city begins to take on the characteristics of other global cities, such as New York, Tokyo or London, rather than other neighboring or local cities. In the 1850s, globalization would’ve been discussed as “the world being tightly connected.” It was also a time when people from different countries began to gather in one place, such as the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London in 1851. In one sense, that exhibition functioned like a modern department store – a place where people could see things from all over the world.
SOURCE: Kimberly Kagan and Frederick W. Kagan in the WSJ (4-9-09)
Moreover, Gen. Odierno and the U.S. Embassy have established joint committees with Iraqi military and political leaders at the highest levels both to coordinate operations and to monitor and ensure adherence to the agreement. There is a committee for each article of the agreement that reviews all questions of implementation and investigates all accusations of infringements. Both sides have agreed that the approved minutes of these committees are legally binding.
January's peaceful provincial elections have reinvigorated Iraqi democracy. Iraqis voted in large numbers and, as dissatisfied voters often do, they voted the incumbents out. This was an important step, demonstrating that Iraqis believe that their vote counts and their leaders are held accountable. Iraqi politicians have gotten the message. The losing parties are working to develop platforms to win back their voters in the upcoming national elections. The struggle to form coalitions in the provinces has forced competing parties to compromise with one another at the local level.
Mr. Obama also said that Iraqis must"decide that they want to resolve their differences through constitutional means and legal means." Iraqi leaders of many parties are already showing their determination to do precisely this. For some time, rivals (and even allies) of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have been concerned about his apparent efforts to concentrate too much power in his own hands through the establishment of extra-constitutional government bodies. The Council of Representatives has used the 2009 budget to clip the prime minister's wings by eliminating all funding for these"illegal" bodies. In other words, Iraqi representatives have discovered the power of the purse. It is a remarkable advance in Iraqi politics that the parliament could act against the prime minister and his party, while nonetheless passing a law that is constructive for the state.
But the country faces three major challenges in coming months: national parliamentary elections, most likely in January 2010; major budget constraints, resulting from the low price of oil; and the threat of growing Arab-Kurd tensions in the north....
SOURCE: USA Today (4-7-09)
"Obama came of age, really, after the Cold War, with the Internet being the transformative engine of society, and he now takes his multicultural heritage and the geographical diversity of his upbringing" to the world, Brinkley said in an interview Tuesday as Obama wrapped up his first trip abroad.
Brinkley, who has written about presidents from Teddy Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan, said Obama "is playing to the world right out of the gates, whereas most presidents have not."
Whether you like Obama or not, it is hard to disagree that, by virtue of biography and message, he is a transformational American leader abroad. His trip to Europe and Asia was the confirming stamp of that new reality.
SOURCE: http://www.folioweekly.com (3-31-09)
It’s a demeanor more neighborhood hardware salesman than revolutionary, a camouflage that has served him well. Though he’s been at the center of some of the most pitched preservation battles in city history, it’s difficult to find anyone who dislikes Nolan or even heartily disagrees with him. Whether it’s his calm delivery, his residual New England accent or the chuckle that often seems to follow his fiercest indictments, Nolan is as reasonable a radical as one is likely to meet.
Still, he’s a radical. Largely self-taught (he never finished college) he’s become the city’s unofficial historian through sheer force of will. His pet issues — preservation and Civil Rights history — are often in conflict with St. Augustine’s official line. He disparages the city’s penchant for marketing faux Colonial history, for preferring themepark appeal to sometimes uncomfortable realities. He’s butted heads with all manner of city officials and business types, fighting their demolition plans and calling attention to their foolishness. And he’s effected a real change in the way both black and white residents speak and think about city history. It’s largely because of Nolan, for example, that the covered portion of the Plaza de la Constitucion is now universally recognized as a former Slave Market. In the late ’80s, he learned that human chattel was bought and sold there, a fact the city was reluctant to acknowledge. (A historic marker located there calls it the “birthplace of weights and measures,” but makes no mention of slaves.) Nolan, however, dusted off the fact and refused to let die. It is now widely known and accepted as true.
“When I came here [in 1977], the concept of history in St. Augustine was that people dressed up in funny costumes on St. George Street in fake buildings, where they sold T-shirts and rubber alligators,” he jokes. There are still funny costumes and rubber alligators, but today they’re tempered by Nolan’s unforgiving eye and unimpeachable memory. He’s succeeded in holding the city and its residents accountable to history — and making sure they don’t forget it.
SOURCE: CNN (4-7-09)
That's the message from a scholar who says President Obama can learn much from the success and mistakes of another ambitious attempt to remake America.
Robert Weisbrot, co-author of "The Liberal Hour: Washington and the Politics of Change in the 1960s,'' says the Great Society revolution was "tremendously liberating" for members of the most vulnerable groups in America.
The Great Society was President Lyndon Johnson's sprawling legislative attempts in the mid-1960s to lift Americans out of poverty, erase racial injustice and clean up the environment.
But historical circumstances won't permit Obama to push through his own Great Society, Weisbrot says.
"Obama is living in a different age," Weisbrot said. "The circumstances won't permit him to be another Lyndon Johnson."
SOURCE: St. Petersburg Times -- politifact.com (4-5-09)
He was fired with the desire to witness it himself. "I told my family, 'We can't drive to Florida tomorrow,' " Arsenault says. "In the Hollywood version, we wouldn't have."
They did, but Arsenault may get a Hollywood version after all. More than four decades later, he's a distinguished historian whose two recent books about landmark events of the civil rights movement are taking unusual turns in the spotlight. Unusual, that is, for history texts.
His new book, The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert That Awakened America, will have a high-profile debut on April 12 as part of a concert at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, commemorating the 70th anniversary of Anderson's historic performance there. His 2006 book, Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice (Oxford University Press), is the source for a documentary, now in production, that will be part of the PBS American Experience series.
And here's the Hollywood part: Arsenault just signed contracts awarding feature film rights for that book to esteemed screenwriter William Broyles (Apollo 13, Flags of Our Fathers).
"It's been amazing," he says.
SOURCE: Free Press (4-6-09)
One prof who came close to becoming a public personality was Sidney Fine, the University of Michigan history professor who died last Tuesday in Ann Arbor. He was 88.
Fine was famous for several reasons.
He lectured for 53 years, considered a record at U-M, and the university figures he taught more than 26,000 students. He was an expert in modern American history, and when a Free Press reporter in 1990 dropped into his History 467 class — The United States since 1933 — she reported some 50 people sat on the floor because students had filled the auditorium’s 382 seats. Several seats in the rear were occupied by faculty spouses who were auditing the class.
Fine was also known as unusually approachable. His office was open for visits 5-6 hours a week, three times the amount of many professors.
“I pride myself on being available to students,” he once said.
Kevin Boyle, a professor at Ohio State University and prize-winning author, worked with Fine when Boyle completed his Ph.D in history at U-M.
“Students loved him not simply because he knew his subject inside and out, though of course he did. They loved him because he let them know – in everything that he did -- that he cared so much about his classes, cared so much for their education, and cared so much for them,” Boyle said....
SOURCE: CBCNews (4-6-09)
Careless died Monday at Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital, according to his son, James Careless.
Careless won two Governor-General's Awards for his books of history — one for Brown of the Globe, a two-volume portrait of one of the Fathers of Confederation, and Canada: A Story of Challenge, which became a standard one-volume history of Canada.
He lectured at the University of Toronto from 1945 and became chairman of the history department in 1959.
SOURCE: WaPo (4-7-09)
During the past few years, he was a presidential historian at the Woodrow Wilson House. He spent his early career at the National Archives as well as writing for and editing the Manuscript Society News and other publications aimed at librarians, archivists and curators.
He wrote a play about Robert Todd Lincoln, the only child of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln to live into adulthood. The play was staged in the mid-1980s at Ford's Theatre.
Mr. Carson chaired a conference on presidential children as well as a National Press Club conference on covering White House families. He was a past president of the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia, a historical society, and a board member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. Over the years, he led tours of Washington's historical landmarks.
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NYT editorial page tribute by Brent Staples
HNN History Doyen Profile
David Levering Lewis on John Hope Franklin's Moral and Intellectual Poise
NYT Week in Review
2 surprising stories about a great historian
John Hope Franklin remembered by one of his graduate students
James C. Cobb: My Heroes Haven't Always Been Cowboys
Walter Dellinger in the WaPo
Stan Katz tribute
John Hope Franklin: Wa Po Review of His Memoir
Articles by John Hope Franklin
OAH Appearance 2007
Note: Video quality is poor.
John Hope Franklin: Dean of U.S. historians tells his story
David Horowitz: Why I Am Not Celebrating John Hope Franklin's Birthday
John Hope Franklin & Yu Ying-shih: Two History Scholars Are to Split $1 Million Award
Ralph Luker: John Hope Franklin Endorses Obama
John Hope Franklin on the Diane Rehm Show
John Hope Franklin: His Vision for the New Slavery Museum
John Hope Franklin says it's time for all of us to stand up
John Hope Franklin: Named first Inouye chair in Hawaii
John Hope Franklin: Historian criticizes Cherokee Nation for excluding slave descendants
John Hope Franklin profiled in the WaPo
John Hope Franklin: Feted at Duke University
John Hope Franklin: Warns of bias in history
John Hope Franklin: He changed how Americans view their own past (NYT)
Duke U. library exhibit celebrating his life
Eric Arnesen: Review of John Hope Franklin's Mirror to America: The Autobiography of John Hope Franklin
SOURCE: David Levering Lewis in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (4-10-09)
A cautionary truth about the life of John Hope Franklin is that, in that time long ago before he became John Hope Franklin, author of From Slavery to Freedom (the book, originally published in 1947 and now in its best-selling eighth edition, virtually created the industry of African-American studies) and 11 other monographs; or the first African-American to be chairman of an academic department in a historically white institution; or the first person of color elected to the presidencies of Phi Beta Kappa (1973-76), the Southern Historical Association (1969-70), the Organization of American Historians (1974-75), and the American Historical Association (1978-79); or holder of the Guinness Book of Records distinction for an unsurpassed number of honorary degrees; and John Hope Franklin, cultivator of orchids of incomparable beauty — what must not be forgotten in the glow of celebration is the truth that, long before there was John Hope Franklin the Institution, there was a Rentiesville, Okla., boy born black in a place where, and growing to adolescence in a time when, failing to take extremely good care of oneself could be fatal.
Although blessed with caring parents and the modest advantages of his father's law practice,"the quality of life in Rentiesville was as low as one can imagine ... no parks, playgrounds, libraries, or newspapers," Franklin wrote stoically about those early years. As the Franklin family prepared in 1921 to move from Rentiesville to Tulsa, Okla., with its thriving black business community, that community was destroyed by one of the worst race riots in American history. My Life and an Era: The Autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin (1997), the senior Franklin's memoir edited and published by John Hope and his son John Whittington Franklin, is a remarkable account of those separate-but-very-unequal times....
In Memory of John Hope Franklin: HNN Readers Open Forum
SOURCE: NYT (4-5-09)
The verdict did not surprise me because I had read the committee’s report and found it less an indictment of Churchill than an example of a perfectly ordinary squabble about research methods and the handling of evidence. The accusations that fill its pages are the kind scholars regularly hurl at their polemical opponents. It’s part of the game. But in most cases, after you’ve trashed the guy’s work in a book or a review, you don’t get to fire him. Which is good, because if the standards for dismissal adopted by the Churchill committee were generally in force, hardly any of us professors would have jobs.
At least two reviewers of my 2001 book “How Milton Works” declared that my reading of “Paradise Lost” rests on an unproven assumption that Milton repeatedly and designedly punned on the homonyms “raised” (elevated), “razed” (destroyed) and “rased” (erased). I was accused of having fabricated these puns out of thin air and of building on the fabrication an interpretive house of cards that fell apart at the slightest touch of rationality and evidence.
I use the criticism of my own work as an example because to talk about the many others who have been accused of incompetence, ignorance, falsification, plagiarism and worse would be bad form. And it wouldn’t prove anything much except that when academics assess one another they routinely say things like, “Professor A obviously has not read the primary sources”; “Professor B draws conclusions the evidence does not support”; “Professor C engages in fanciful speculations and then pretends to build a solid case; he’s just making it up”; “Professor D does not acknowledge that he stole his argument from Professor E who was his teacher (or his student).”
The scholars who are the objects of these strictures do not seem to suffer much on account of them, in part because they can almost always point to positive reviews on the other side, in part because harsh and even scabrous judgments are understood to be more or less par for the course. And I won’t even go into the roster of big-time historians who in recent years have been charged with (and in some instances confessed to) plagiarism, distortion and downright lying. With the exception of one, these academic malfeasants are still plying their trades, receiving awards and even pontificating on television.
Why, given these examples of crimes or errors apparently forgiven, did Ward Churchill lose his job (he may now regain it) when all he was accused of was playing fast and loose with the facts, fudging his sources and going from A to D in his arguments without bothering to stop at B and C? In short, standard stuff....
Ilan Pappe is probably the most widely known Israeli seeking the annihilation of his own country. He currently on the faculty of the University of Exeter in the UK, having left the University of Haifa in Israel under pressure. Pappe’s career has been devoted almost exclusively to turning out articles and books that demonize Israel and Zionism, and one of his ex-colleagues in Haifa has dismissed him as Israel’s Lord Haw Haw. Pappe’s newest "book," [Ilan Pappe (editor) “The Israel/Palestine Question: A Reader” (2nd edition), Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2007, 292 pages]
is a collection of anti-Israel articles written by a balanced set of Arab haters of Israel and Israeli-Jewish haters of Israel. The book is designed to be adopted by the sort of Middle East Studies professor who never wants his students exposed to a dissenting pro-Zionist opinion.
Significantly, the book belongs to the Routledge “Rewriting History Series,” a hodgepodge of leftist “anti-colonialist” volumes, and historic revisionism (meaning “New History”) is what every chapter of Pappe’s book is about. The second edition of the book differs in some interesting ways from the first, which was published in 1999. Benny Morris, an erstwhile “New Historian” who now denounces anti-Zionist New Historians while endorsing the “Zionist Narrative,” no longer appears as a contributor. He had written the centerpiece of the first edition.
Every chapter in the book but one is a reprint from material that has appeared elsewhere. The exception is a piece by As’ad Ghanem, a radically anti-Israel Arab political scientist from Pappe’s old department of political science at the University of Haifa. Ghanem’s contribution is supposed to be about “Israeli Palestinians,” the new code name by anti-Zionists for Israeli Arabs, whom Ghanem claims are living under Israeli “ethnocracy.” That is Newspeak for apartheid. (Ghanem is on record as favoring a so-called “one-state solution,” in which Israel will cease to exist, as are most of the other contributors in the book.)
From the raving reviews of the book at Al-Ahram, and at the PLO-controlled Journal of Palestine Studies, it should be obvious that objectivity is the last thing to be found in it. To help obfuscate the fact that the book is propaganda and not scholarship, it does not contain anywhere bios about the contributors, and readers cannot place them into context.
Among the Jews in the book insisting that Israel is guilty of just about everything is Avi Shlaim, the anti-Israel expatriate who turns out volumes of bash-Israel publicist writings, from Oxford University, Uri Ram, a notorious “Post-Zionist” sociologist from Ben Gurion University, whose chapter in the book is devoted to proving that Israel is a “colonialist” anachronism whose existence is unfortunate, and Gershon Shafir, a communist sociologist at the University of California in San Diego.
Then, for balance, the book includes an article by Walid Khalidi, the author of 'All that Remains' who works at the Institute of Palestine Studies, whose chapter is devoted to demanding that the 1947 UN resolution creating Israel now be retroactively revoked. He is joined by Beshara Doumani, in the news in recent days for claiming that a Zionist cabal suppresses freedom of speech in American academia, Butrus Abu-Manneh, a retired Middle East historian from the University of Haifa whose contribution is an esoteric chapter about Ottoman history that should be of interest to at least four historians in Ankara, and Nur Massalha, a “philosopher” from St. Mary’s College in the UK who was an initiator of attempts there to boycott Israel, and whose chapter celebrates Arab “resistance” against Jews.
Pappe’s own centerpiece contribution in the book is a long-winded “revisionist” (meaning, largely false) retelling of his own adventures in inventing the imaginary “massacre” of Arabs in Tantura. This “massacre” is one that Pappe and his MA student Teddy Katz decided took place in 1948 near Haifa just before Israeli independence was declared. The evidence for the existence of such a massacre? None. One is just expected to take Pappe’s word for it.
There is no documentary or physical evidence (like bones) that any such massacre took place (although a battle did), and journalists who were present at the battle of Tantura (including Arab journalists) witnessed no massacre. For more than 50 years no one, not even Arab propagandists, alleged there had been one. The Pappe-Katz “evidence” that there was a massacre consists of taped interviews with Arabs who had been children at the time of the battle, and, when the tapes were reviewed by others, turn out never even to claim there was any massacre. Instead, they describe memories of the Jews helping the villagers after the battle.
Katz later admitted in an Israeli court where he was being sued for libel and with his lawyer present that the whole massacre story was a fabrication. Undeterred if nonplussed, Pappe sticks to his earlier line in the book. Pappe has long insisted that facts just do not matter when it comes to the urgent task of inventing a “Palestinian narrative.” Meyrav Wurmser, among others, has debunked Pappe’s entire fabrication. Pappe largely regurgitates his previous Tantura claims in his own chapter, citing as new “evidence” the fact that other anti-Zionists have endorsed his own claims about Tantura.
None of the authoritative Israeli historians of the conflict, even those from the Left, are even mentioned in the book anywhere. Instead, you will find almost every pseudo-scholar who has made a career out of bashing Israel cited as a serious researcher.
SOURCE: Inside Vandy (4-2-09)
Goodwin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and well-known historian, is the recipient of the 2009 Nichols-Chancellor's Medal and will be the keynote speaker on Senior Class Day. Goodwin was also the center of a plagiarism scandal.
"I have looked into this very carefully and I've spoken to several colleagues about this on our faculty, and I will tell you that I am personally thrilled to have her here," McCarty said.
In 2002, Goodwin was accused of plagiarism in two news articles. Goodwin addressed the accusations in Time Magazine, asserting the errors were unintentional. Although Goodwin provided footnotes for her sources, she attributed her failure to "provide quotation marks for phrases I had taken verbatim" to mislabeling in her notes due to the large-scale nature of her research. She also confessed to having previously reached a "private settlement" with an author of one of her sources.
Senior Meghana Bhatta, an investigative member of the honor council, said Goodwin provided a "feeble excuse that would not even stand up in a high school classroom, much less in the world of academia."
"Vanderbilt is sending a flawed and hypocritical message to its students and to other institutions by hosting an admitted plagiarist," Bhatta said. "I hope that the administration realizes that we risk losing credibility in the eyes of the public by demonstrating support for a woman who does not stand for the ideals of our school."
The allegations resulted in her resignation from several positions, but she still retained the support of many scholars and readers.
"I think she has answered those accusations and she gave ample credit to a source that she used," McCarty said. "She worked out an arrangement with that author, but she in no way attempted to present that work as her own."
SOURCE: Natasha Proietto at TheCommentFactory (4-4-09)
David Starkey’s recent pronouncements on female historians, which I came across on April 1st, did at first seem to be a bad joke. Apparently, history, especially that of Tudor times, has been feminized by waves of women analysts focusing on Henry VIII’s love life at the expense of the real power players, the white male elite. First of all let me say that Starkey has a point. Women do like soap operas more than men do, although the number of boys quite hooked on Neighbours et al. should not be underestimated. Perhaps more women than men historians like to focus on the dramatic romanticism of historical accounts instead of drier facts.
The first thing to do is to account for this: number one, the study of history has changed a great deal. Nowadays the emphasis is on the thematic not the empirical. It is also on the historian themselves, something less encouraged in the beginning of the age of rationality, or “enlightened” times. The great debate in historical writing has always been the tension between presenting facts and opinion. Many more recent writers have written the history of their line of thought, assessing the past to suit their own dogmas and willfully making the facts fit. This is not necessarily the wrong way to write but it can be deconstructed and attacked more effortlessly than the more straightforward empirical tomes of the 19th and early 20th century, before historical writing became quite so politicized. Facts are now available at the click of a button. Therefore historians sometimes spend less time looking for them or recording them and more on interpretation.
Many historians today like to project themselves onto the story. Starkey claims the past (of Britain anyway) was shaped by the white male leaders of the time. To some extent this is true but it misses the fact that even if those men did make many important decisions, what history teaches us is that everything is connected. History is not just from above or just from below. It is from the turbulent mix of the two that the most accurate picture emerges. It is not true to say that the smaller actors are of no import, as a long line of toppled dictators, monarchs and overlords have found to their cost. You never know when the small actor might grow in stature; you cannot just separate him or her from the lives and decisions of those at the top.
Of course the history of these smaller actors is more difficult to pinpoint if taken as an excluded entity. We know much less about the social history of the poorer in society, partly due to their lack of access to education and thus greater illiteracy. The poor tended to pass down their tales as oral history; it was not recorded in the same grandiose way as that of the Kings, with their rooms full of memorabilia and libraries of servile scribes. Before the times of mass communication, it was all the powerful could do to record their own achievements, never mind those of the wider community.
Number two: if girls are writing in a more “girly” way, perhaps this is linked to education: girls tend to be given the softer subjects like “describe a typical day in the life of a peasant girl OR city girl during the Russian Revolution” for class presentations in high school, rather than the “describe the defensive tactics of the Red Army during the Russian Revolution” that the boys get. I exaggerate to make a point, but in the field of history, there are as many men who enjoy dissecting the psychological lives of great characters as there are women who enjoy a good foray into tank widths and legal insignia. Starkey appears to have chosen a very narrow range of history and historians to point at and to have ignored the range of male writers who were quite happy to focus on melodrama (think of Roman writers for a start)....
SOURCE: Henry Louis Gates at The Root (edited by Henry Louis Gates) (4-1-09)
When I was 20, I decided to hitchhike across the African continent, more or less following the line of the equator, from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic. I packed only one pair of sandals and one pair of jeans to make room for the three hefty books I had decided to read from cover to cover: Don Quixote, Moby Dick and From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans. I read the latter—the black-and-white-bound third edition of John Hope Franklin’s 1947 book—while sailing down the Congo River and recovering from a nasty bout of dysentery. It became such a valued reference for me that I kept it, for years, in the bookcase at my bedside.
Like just about every black student at Yale in 1969, I enrolled in the Introduction to Afro-American History survey course, taught quite ably by William McFeely, who would later receive a Pulitzer Prize. At the end of each class, someone would find a way to bring up the fact that while our subject matter was black, McFeely was quite white, and hadn’t he better find a way to remedy that fact? With the patience of Job, McFeely would graciously grant his accuser the point and add that he hoped to put himself out of a job just as soon as a black historian could be found to take his place. He would then remind us that the textbook around which our course was structured, From Slavery to Freedom, had been written by a black man, a black man who had been trained at Harvard.
John Hope Franklin was the last of the great generation of black historians to follow in W.E.B. Du Bois’ footsteps and earn their Ph.D.s from Harvard in the first half of the 20th century. After Du Bois came Carter G. Woodson (the father of Black History Month) in 1912; Charles Wesley in 1925; Rayford W. Logan in 1936; and Franklin in 1941. Both because Franklin was the youngest member of this academic royal family and because he was lean and elegant, poised and cosmopolitan, many of us in the younger generation came to refer to him as “the Prince.”
Despite all of the important work done by his four predecessors at Harvard, Franklin was the first to publish a comprehensive and popular story of the Negro’s place in American life. From Slavery to Freedom was not just the first of its genre; it was canon-forming. It gave to the black historical tradition a self-contained form through which it could be institutionalized—parsed, divided into 15 weeks, packaged and taught—from Harlem to Harvard, and even, or especially, in those places where almost no black people actually lived. Every scholar of my generation studied Franklin’s book; in this sense, we are all his godchildren.
But Franklin’s relationship with Harvard was a complicated and tense one. Because Harvard had trained him as a historian, Franklin aspired to become the college’s first black history professor. By the late 1960s, that dream certainly seemed to be within his grasp, especially after he had integrated the history department at Brooklyn College in 1956, then moved to the Midwest in 1964 to integrate the history department at the University of Chicago, just a year after Dr. King’s March on Washington.
While my classmates and I down in New Haven were busy busting William McFeely’s chops for being white, Harvard had the good sense to invite John Hope Franklin to become the first chairman of its Afro-American studies department, which it started in 1969 along with Yale and most other research universities.
But Franklin had an understandably principled opposition to academic segregation or “ghettoization” of any kind. He was suspicious about the uneven and troubled origins and stated intentions of the nascent field of Afro-American studies. He agreed to hold his nose if the faculty hired to teach in the new department were jointly appointed in the departments in which they had taken their degrees. With Franklin’s pedigree, a joint appointment should have been a natural....
SOURCE: The Onion (a satire) (3-6-09)
The 1906 Earthquake Deniers, a group reviled by Californians and scholars alike, held three days of lectures and roundtable discussions over what they call a "century-long hoax" of exaggerated seismic activity in the Bay area, and part of a conspiracy to bring the World's Fair to San Francisco in 1915. Historians protested the conference, saying the organization's statements denying any major seismic activity in 1906 are reprehensible and out of line with all available geologic data from the time.
"On Apr. 18, 1906, an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale killed 3,000 San Franciscans and devastated a growing metropolis," Professor Richard Kasper of the University of California, Berkeley, told reporters Tuesday. "It was a massive, massive earthquake. To say otherwise is to callously ignore not only the suffering of the disaster's victims, but also a mountain of photographs, video footage, and eyewitness reports."...
SOURCE: Press Release (4-1-09)
The daylong series of five seminars will examine aspects of the war affecting Sackets Harbor and Ogdensburg, NY and Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.
“We have lecturers from New York and Ontario who are experts in their own right on the history and archaeology of the War of 1812,” said Project Director Doug Cubbison. “Their presentations are not only for academics and historians. These talks will interest military re-enactors, history buffs and the public that wants to know more about our history.
The Fort Association is offering the lectures and related activities, including a continental breakfast, buffet lunch and sit-down dinner, for only $55.
There will be displays on the archaeology of the War of 1812, on 1812 Marines and by the Fort La Présentation Association. A midday concert of early 19th-century music by the Excelsior Cornet Band is scheduled.
The speakers are consulting archaeologist Dr. Timothy Abel, past Executive Director of the Jefferson County Historical Society; Dr. Gary Gibson of the Sackets Harbor Battlefield Alliance; Major John R. Grodzinski, Department of History, Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario; Mr. Donald E. Graves, a widely published military historian from Carleton Pace, Ontario; and Mr. James Reagan, author and Managing Editor of the Ogdensburg Journal.
“The War of 1812 has received minimal scholarly and popular attention in the United States, but is viewed with public and academic interest in Canada,” said Cubbison. “The War College is intended to reveal some of the profound effects the conflict had on the growth and development of northern New York State.”
Ogdensburg experienced the war on a number of occasions. The most devastating was Feb. 22, 1813 when Lt. Col. ‘Red George’ Macdonnell of the Glengarry Light Infantry led a reprisal raid across the frozen St. Lawrence from Prescott, Upper Canada (Ontario). The aggressive 1st US Rifle Regiment under Captain Benjamin Forsyth was driven out of the town. American military stores and shipping that could not be taken back to Canada were burned.
The War of 1812 War College will be held at the Freighthouse Restaurant in Ogdensburg. The former railroad station, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is located on the 1813 battlefield and is adjacent to the Fort de La Présentation archaeological site.
The Fort La Présentation Association plans to develop the War of 1812 War College into a two-day annual event leading to the bicentennial of the War of 1812.
Details on the War College can be found at www.fortlapresentation.net or requested by calling 315-394-1749.
Over the past 250 years, the flags of France, England, and the US have flown above Fort de La Présentation and its successors during the French and Indian War, the American Revolution and the War of 1812.
The Fort La Présentation Association intends to commence rebuilding the 1749 French fort in 2010.
The New York Council for the Humanities has generously contributed to the War of 1812 War College.
SOURCE: The University of Chicago Chronicle (4-2-09)
“Slavery, Abolition and Human Rights: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Thirteenth Amendment” is a two-day conference that will include more than 30 experts from the disciplines of law, political science, history, public policy, literature and philosophy.
Amy Dru Stanley, Associate Professor in History and the College, and Alexander Tsesis, assistant professor at Loyola University School of Law, organized the conference, which will explore the amendment’s importance to the United States’ history and present.
As the conference summary explains, “The amendment has offered powerful protections for individual rights and equal treatment, against wrongs ranging from peonage and housing discrimination to school segregation and trafficking in persons. A wellspring of American civil rights jurisprudence and legislation, it also has inspired global aspirations for human rights.”
Its legacy is one that academics have rarely studied. The 13th Amendment has been rather overshadowed by the study of the 14th Amendment—that is, the problem of abolishing slavery under the 13th has been overshadowed by the problem of guaranteeing national citizenship and equal protection under the 14th. To be sure, historians and legal scholars have explored the origins and construction of the 13th Amendment, but most often as part of the wider constitutional transformation of the era of the Civil War and Reconstruction,” explained Stanley.
However, the 13th Amendment raises issues that touch the scholarship of all the participating experts, from literature to law. The conference’s interdisciplinary nature is of crucial importance.
Stanley said, “Coercion, autonomy, property, subjectivity and difference are among the core issues raised by the 13th Amendment, issues that speak to concerns at the heart of these diverse disciplines. It is rare to bring together such a host of scholars, allowing for interdisciplinary exchange among the participants and the audience.”
Scholars will debate the meaning of the amendment, including the intent of its framers.
“Exactly what is forbidden by the abolition of slavery and involuntary servitude is far from settled, as a recent confirmation hearing indicates, where abortion and the 13th Amendment came to the fore,” she said.
The implications for the contemporary civil rights movement are considerable, said co-organizer Tsesis.