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 (2-4-10)
His books include “Impeachment of a President: Andrew Johnson, the Blacks, and Reconstruction”; “Thaddeus Stevens: Nineteenth-Century Egalitarian,” about the congressman who led the impeachment effort; and “Rutherford B. Hayes.”
At his death, Professor Trefousse was distinguished professor emeritus of history at Brooklyn College, where he taught full time from 1950 until 1998. He also taught at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
Hans Louis Trefousse (pronounced TRAY-foos) was born into a Jewish family in Frankfurt on Dec. 18, 1921. His family left Germany in the mid-1930s and settled on Staten Island. Mr. Trefousse received a bachelor’s degree from City College of New York and master’s and doctoral degrees in history from Columbia....
SOURCE: BBC History Magazine (2-4-10)
...To scour the latest scholarly journals often means ploughing through pages of detailed analysis in which the human element is almost entirely absent. All too often, historians underestimate the personal and elevate the general: as the excellent medieval historian Ian Mortimer once pointed out, it is bizarre to read a monograph on Henry IV in which the death of his wife – presumably one of the central and most affecting moments in the king’s life – was dismissed in eight words.
Indeed, many academics have long believed that the individual has no place in serious scholarship. “Biography?” the late Geoffrey Elton once exploded when his pupil David Starkey mentioned that he fancied writing a life of Henry VIII. “Biography? Leave it to the women!”
In many ways this is merely another example of the yawning divide between ‘academic’ and ‘popular’ scholarship. As academics abandon the human story for yet another thrilling discussion of the trans-gendering of public space in a Staffordshire village, so it falls to the likes of William Hague and Roy Hattersley to give us their thoughts on William Pitt or the Edwardians.
A few brave souls have ventured out from the ivory tower to embark on major biographies: Sir Ian Kershaw’s two-volume Hitler springs to mind. By and large, however, young scholars are discouraged from the biographical approach. When one eminent American historian discovered that I was writing my PhD on an individual politician, Senator Eugene McCarthy, he turned pale with shock, quite a sight given that he was rather florid.
And yet the truth is history books only last if they reconcile the individual and the general. Painful though it may be for some academics to admit, history is nothing more than the sum of countless individual decisions, most of them now lost forever. Even Christopher Hill, one of the greatest Marxist historians of all, recognised the importance of the human element, which is why his book on Cromwell, God’s Englishman, is such a splendid read....
SOURCE: Newton Daily News (2-9-10)
Historian Galin Berrier made this and other realities of the underground railroad clear at a Chautauqua lecture at William Penn University on Thursday night. Berrier currently serves as an adjunct instructor at Des Moines Area Community College.
Berrier focused on the fact that much of what is known about the underground railroad has been told by white people assisting recently escaped African-Americans.
“The underground railroad is really very much more a black story than it is a white story,” said Berrier. “The underground railroad is first and foremost a story of blacks, to a great extent, freeing themselves.”
Like many free states during America’s slavery days, Iowa had a number of stops on the underground railroad.
SOURCE: Jerusalem Post (2-7-10)
Morris was scheduled to speak to students at the university on Thursday, but following a campaign led by anti-Israel activist Ben White the Israel Society canceled the talk. Instead Morris was invited to speak at an event hosted by the university’s Department of Political and International Studies.
White, who graduated from the university in 2005 and authored the book Israeli Apartheid: A Beginners Guide, set up a protest page on Facebook in which he claimed that “on different occasions, Morris has expressed Islamophobic and racist sentiments towards Arabs and Muslims.”
He added: “We find it offensive and appalling that an official student society would want to invite such an individual.”
Following the Facebook protest, a letter was sent to the student union by the university’s Islamic Society, other students and two staff members from the English Department asking it to take a stand and show it is serious “in opposing bigotry and Islamophobia.” The 15 signatories said Morris’s views were “abhorrent and offensive.
“The issue is hate speech, and the impact of a visit by this individual on the campus’ atmosphere for the student body’s minority groups... His visit is insulting, threatening to Arab and Muslim students in particular and also goes against the spirit of the student union’s stated anti-Islamophobia policy,” the letter read.
Last year, Cambridge’s Palestine Society hosted Abd al-Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper. In 2008, Atwan said the terrorist attack on Jerusalem’s Mercaz Harav yeshiva, in which eight students were killed and 15 were wounded, was “justified” as the school was responsible for “hatching Israeli extremists and fundamentalists.”...
SOURCE: NYT (2-8-10)
In a special cabinet meeting, Mr. Fillon also threw the discussion, initiated several months ago by President Nicolas Sarkozy, to an “experts committee” of politicians and historians, bringing the debate to an end in its current public form....
Mr. Fillon said that French schools will now be ordered to fly the French flag and to have a copy of the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in every classroom....
Mr. Fillon said that French schools will now be ordered to fly the French flag and to have a copy of the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in every classroom.
SOURCE: BBC History Magazine (2-1-10)
Historian Katy Pettit has been researching the consumption habits of better-off working-class families in the East End of London from 1880 to 1914. She has discovered ideals that emerged from those communities themselves. They were a matter of pragmatic response to changing circumstances and personal preferences about consumption, rather than a moral or religious ideal of thrift. Women’s skill in managing family budgets was at the centre of this. “Such a highly valued skill was a crucial component of working-class respectability,” she argues.
Pettit notes the example of one woman from Wapping who “was highly proficient at keeping the family accounts and would have liked to have been an accountant if born a man”. Such skills were not just about the routine, but also involved “learning to adapt quickly to uncontrollable situations” – caused not only by unemployment but also by, for instance, a bereavement.
Much has been made in today’s economic crisis about how far people are changing their shopping habits, perhaps trading down from more expensive food stores. Katy Pettit’s research shows how shrewd shopping was not an exceptional response but a way of life for many East Enders. This involved cultivating good relationships with shopkeepers, and knowing when to find bargains – for example, at the end of the day. Children were also a well-informed part of the family economy, running errands in return for edible rewards. “Although today child labour is sometimes considered to be exploitative”, she argues, “the late-Victorian and Edwardian version in east London was complex, and the work was not necessarily harmful”....
What emerges from Pettit’s research is a sophisticated sense of consumer choice extending well below those with middle-class incomes. Individuals or families would trade economising in one area against the enjoyment of a particular luxury. The local press contained sophisticated recipes, and shops in poorer areas would stock foods such as pâté de foie gras....
So ‘thrift’ in such communities was not so much the self-denial with which the well-to-do sought to advertise their virtue. It was about families constantly managing resources in the hope of maintaining a lifestyle – including some more expensive consumption – whatever the circumstances. Today’s hard-pressed consumers will know the feeling.
SOURCE: Boston Globe (2-7-10)
Yet Zinn’s work remains a testament to the power of vantage point, an example of how coming at a familiar set of historical facts from a different angle can completely change what we know about them. And today, historians of all stripes are applying that lesson in new and fascinating ways. These scholars are not the heirs of Zinn, politically or intellectually, but their work shares his conviction that we can and should see the past anew.
Environmental historians, for example, are looking not just at society but its interaction with the natural world, exploring the ways that man has altered and been altered by it. Proponents of so-called neurohistory are looking at the human brain, arguing that it is not solely the product of evolution, but of culture and technological advances - of history, in other words, rather than just biology. Other historians are rearranging the boundaries their colleagues use to partition the past into useful categories, creating fields like “Pacific history” that focus on the ways that navigable bodies of water have linked and shaped societies as much as national borders have. Still others are using the tools of science to answer longstanding historical questions - melding history, archeology, and sciences ranging from genetics to computer programming to climatology into a sprawling new field called “archeoscience.”
SOURCE: NPR.org (2-4-10)
And that's what hundreds said about a Jan. 28 remembrance of Howard Zinn, the activist historian who died Jan. 27....
Zinn, 87, died of a heart attack last Wednesday while on a speaking tour in California. NPR scrambled to get something on the air for All Things Considered (ATC) the next night.
The four-minute piece by Allison Keyes quoted three sources: two who praised Zinn and one, David Horowitz, who was harshly critical. It was the commentary by Horowitz that led Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a left-leaning media watchdog group, to initiate a campaign that resulted in over 1,600 emails, over 100 phone calls and 108 comments on npr.org. Others complained on air....
Not surprisingly, he was no fan of Zinn's.
"There is absolutely nothing in Howard Zinn's intellectual output that is worthy of any kind of respect," Horowitz declared in the NPR story. "Zinn represents a fringe mentality which has unfortunately seduced millions of people at this point in time. So he did certainly alter the consciousness of millions of younger people for the worse."...
Adam Bernstein, the Washington Post's obituaries editor, also heard the Zinn obit.
"I think the Zinn story misses the mark for two reasons," said Bernstein. "It quotes people with a vested interest in celebrating the man and then quotes a man who vividly despises what Zinn represents."
Neither works well....
I also asked Alana Baranick, author of "Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers," to listen to the story. She wrote obits for the Cleveland Plain Dealer for 16 years. She thought it was fair to use Horowitz to balance out leftist academic Noam Chomsky, who said "Zinn had changed the conscience of a generation."
"If I had been doing that NPR obit, I would not have cited Horowitz or Chomsky," said Baranick. "I would have looked to less controversial figures for comments. [Quoting] historians, who are not considered political activists, would have been more appropriate."...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (2-5-10)
As head of air intelligence at Station X — the top secret headquarters at Bletchley Park of the codebreakers who cracked Germany’s Enigma cipher during the Second World War — Calvocoressi played a critical role in the operation to intercept high-level German orders. This intelligence, known as Ultra, and provided by his team of mathematicians, linguists and other experts, not only helped win the Battle of Britain but also furnished details of Hitler’s proposed invasion in Operation Sea Lion, eventually abandoned as too risky....
His account of his wartime work at Bletchley Park, Top Secret Ultra, appeared in 1980. In it Calvocoressi emphasised the decisive role played by Ultra in intercepting communications: “Ultra took the blindfold off our eyes so that we could see the enemy in detail in a way in which he could not see us.”...
Peter John Ambrose Calvocoressi was born on November 17 1912 in Karachi, then part of British India, now Pakistan, into one of the great Greek mercantile families which could trace its roots back to Byzantium and which had flourished in a much intermarried enclave in late 19th-century London. Of these families, the most prosperous and successful were the Rallis, of whose bank his father was a director.
Moving to England at the age of three months, Peter was brought up at Holme Hey, a substantial house on the fringe of Sefton Park, Liverpool, and was dismayed to be called a “greasy Greek” at prep school in Kent. Largely on the strength of his Latin translation of Abide With Me, he won a scholarship to Eton (where he discarded God and identified himself as a political radical) and in 1934 took a first in History at Balliol. His parents wanted him to try for the Foreign Office but he was warned off by Anthony Eden, who said that with a name like Calvocoressi he would never get anywhere in the service — even if he succeeded in entering it....
After standing unsuccessfully as a Liberal candidate in the 1945 general election, Calvocoressi spent five years between 1949 and 1954 with the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House under Arnold Toynbee. He was later offered the post of director-general, but by then he had joined the board of the publishers, Chatto & Windus, which he was unwilling to leave, and where he spent the next 11 years....
He wrote a number of books on history and international affairs, including The British Experience 1945-75 (1978), Independent Africa and the World (1985) and Who’s Who in the Bible (1987). He published his brief autobiography, Threading My Way, in 1994.
SOURCE: Various (1-27-10)
To a point, he helped correct mainstream popular conceptions of American history that were highly biased. But he ceased writing serious history. He had a very simplified view that everyone who was president was always a stinker and every left-winger was always great. That can't be true. A lot of people on the left spent their lives apologizing for one of the worst mass-murdering regimes of the 20th century, and Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. You wouldn't know that from Howard Zinn.
The idea that historians have to be neutral about everything they study is the death of history. Every historian has beliefs and feelings about what they're studying. Howard made them very explicit. The teachers you remember are the ones with a passion for history who made it clear what they thought. They were not polemicists. They respected the canons of historical scholarship, as Zinn did, but they cared deeply....
The way he inspired people, to me, is his legacy, rather than his interpretation of the Jacksonian era or the Gilded Age or the New Deal. Those can be debated and will be debated. But he deserves more than just people saying this is a biased historian. He really was an important figure in the public vision of history.
His professional persona reminded me of something someone once said about the great British historian A.P.J. Taylor, who was a northerner, and like so many northerners, he was an"aginner." You said whatever you wanted to say and he was"agin" it. Zinn had some of that temperament. He did not naturally agree with anything. He was a kind of temperamental contrarian. In the great collective enterprise, I think that was a healthy thing.Doris Kearns Goodwin
I knew him, and I thought he was an extraordinary person. I met him when I was just starting to teach at Harvard in 1969. It was so exhilarating; he was so passionate about history. I had just come back from working in the White House and then on the ranch with Lyndon Johnson. We had tons of things to talk about.Gabriel Winant
Zinn’s humanitarianism was also fuzzy-headed."A People’s History of the United States" -- the one work among his many for which he will be most remembered -- does not offer a compelling explanation of past events or present conditions. Zinn was not really capable of doing so, committed as he was to insisting on the nobility of the exploited many at the hands of a nefarious few. Exploitation and protest, domination and resistance are indeed enduring and central features of American history (and all other history). But they don’t come near being the whole story. Despite the brave struggles of workers, women and minorities, American capitalism remains astonishingly rapacious, and patriarchy and sexism are still very much with us. And as for racism -- well, it’s clearly survived the election of our first black president in reasonable health. As the historian Robert Norrell has put it, there is still no socialism in Reagan Country.
Zinn’s world had little room for workers who wouldn’t join unions, or black people who were not on the front lines of protest. It’s certainly possible to explain these phenomena without abandoning radical criticism or arguing that the proletariat is cheering on Goldman Sachs. But Zinn’s preference was to pretend there was no issue at all.
It’s for this reason that"A People’s History of the United States" -- and Zinn himself -- might best be compared to physicist Niels Bohr and his theory of the electron. Bohr argued that electrons orbited nuclei like planets around the sun. This is incorrect, just barely, but the theory's simplicity means it's often how students are first introduced to the issue....
Video of Howard Zinn
The Guardian notes the passing of"American historian, playwright and social activist Howard Zinn [who] died yesterday, aged 87".
Christopher Hitchens noted that in America you can say pretty much anything you like and still get listened to if you prefix your name with the title"Reverend". I can only assume the same was true in Zinn's case with the title"Professor". The man was not just a charlatan and a fanatic - of whom there are many in public life - but was also perfectly incompetent to be a teacher of history....
“He’s made an amazing contribution to American intellectual and moral culture,” Noam Chomsky, the activist and MIT professor, said last night. “He’s changed the conscience of America in a highly constructive way. I really can’t think of anyone I can compare him to in this respect.”
Chomsky added that Dr. Zinn’s writings “simply changed perspective and understanding for a whole generation.”
“He opened up approaches to history that were novel and highly significant,” Chomsky said. “Both by his actions and his writings for 50 years, he played a powerful role in helping and in many ways inspiring the civil rights movement and the antiwar movement.”...
“Howard had a genius for the shape of public morality and for articulating the great alternative vision of peace as more than a dream,” said James Carroll, a columnist for the Globe’s opinion pages whose friendship with Dr. Zinn dates to when Carroll was a Catholic chaplain at BU. “But above all, he had a genius for the practical meaning of love. That is what drew legions of the young to him and what made the wide circle of his friends so constantly amazed and grateful.”
Alex Green at the Huffington Post
I just learned that my friend Howard Zinn died today. Earlier this morning, I was being interviewed by the Boston Phoenix, in connection with the release in Boston February of a documentary in which he is featured prominently. The interviewer asked me who my own heroes were, and I had no hesitation in answering, first, “Howard Zinn.”...
Joseph A. Palermo
As I sit at the desk of my small independent bookstore a mile from where he lived, and think of Howard Zinn, I cannot cast my eyes in any direction without signs of his presence here. Howard was my indefatigable supporter, as he was of all books and all bookstores. Without him, I never could have kept this store alive in its first years....
He was the Eugene Debs of our time, a monumental figure, walking the long road, collecting voices, and passing them down the line to those in most desperate need. There is no greater purpose to life than to protect that which darkness wishes to envelope, give it energy, and use it to act forcefully for what is right and beautiful in the world. Howard saw that potential in people and he shared it as few ever have, and we must carry this forward, and we shall.
I was deeply saddened to see on the front page of The Huffington Post that Howard Zinn passed away today at 87. I know that I am not alone among my colleagues in saying that Howard Zinn is the reason I became a historian. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when I was a volunteer writer for a nuclear freeze news monthly in Santa Cruz, I used to send Howard my articles seeking his praise and encouragement. He was always so generous and gracious and he took the time to write to me and comment on my little obscure articles. I've kept one of his letters to me in a dog-eared copy of A People's History of the United States on my bookshelf. It's from April 21, 1991, and Howard was commenting on an article I sent him about the Persian Gulf War."Your article," he wrote in a little note batted out on a manual typewriter,"'An Unsanitized Look at the War' is on of the very best I have read on the events in the Gulf -- vivid, passionate, factual, and written with admirable clarity. It is a powerful indictment of the war and it pulls together the basic facts about the violence we have done to human beings in that war. Thanks for sending it to me. Best, Howard Zinn" That single letter from Howard inspired me to carry on what I was doing more than any other correspondence or comments I've ever received from any quarter....
...Professor Zinn himself was an impressive-looking man, tall and rugged with wavy hair. An experienced public speaker, he was modest and engaging in person, more interested in persuasion than in confrontation.
Born in New York in 1922, Professor Zinn was the son of Jewish immigrants who as a child lived in a rundown area in Brooklyn and responded strongly to the novels of Charles Dickens. At age 17, urged on by some young Communists in his neighborhood, he attended a political rally in Times Square.
“Suddenly, I heard the sirens sound, and I looked around and saw the policemen on horses galloping into the crowd and beating people,” he told The A.P. “I couldn’t believe that.”
“And then I was hit. I turned around and I was knocked unconscious. I woke up sometime later in a doorway, with Times Square quiet again, eerie, dreamlike, as if nothing had transpired. I was ferociously indignant.”
War continued his education. Eager to help wipe out the Nazis, he joined the Army Air Corps in 1943 and even persuaded the local draft board to let him mail his own induction notice. He flew missions throughout Europe, receiving an Air Medal, but he found himself questioning what it all meant. Back home, he gathered his medals and papers, put them in a folder and wrote on top: “Never again.”
He attended New York University and Columbia University, where he received a doctorate in history. In 1956, he was offered the chairmanship of the history and social sciences department at Spelman College, an all-black women’s school in segregated Atlanta.
During the civil rights movement, Professor Zinn encouraged his students to request books from the segregated public libraries and helped coordinate sit-ins at downtown cafeterias. He also published several articles, including a rare attack on the Kennedy administration, accusing it of being too slow to protect blacks.
He was loved by students — among them a young Alice Walker, who later wrote “The Color Purple” — but not by administrators. In 1963, Spelman fired him for “insubordination.” (Professor Zinn was a critic of the school’s non-participation in the civil rights movement.) His years at Boston University were marked by opposition to the Vietnam War and by feuds with the school’s president, John Silber.
Professor Zinn retired in 1988, spending his last day of class on the picket line with students in support of an on-campus nurses’ strike. Over the years, he continued to lecture at schools and to appear at rallies and on picket lines. One of Professor Zinn’s last public writings was a brief essay, published last week in The Nation, about the first year of the Obama administration....
“I think people are dazzled by Obama’s rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president — which means, in our time, a dangerous president — unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction.”
- Howard Zinn - Tributes, Memorials, and Obituaries
- Howard Zinn's show has been"hyped" says Ron Radosh in a highly critical review
- Rick Shenkman: The Left's Blind Spot
- Michael Kazin: Howard Zinn's Disappointing History of the United States
- Joseph A. Palermo: Remembering Howard Zinn
- Michael Honey: Howard Zinn's Disputed Legacy
- Ron Briley: Thank You, Howard Zinn
- Ron Radosh: America the Awful - Howard Zinn's History
- Sheldon M. Stern: Howard Zinn Briefly Recalled
SOURCE: NYT (1-29-10)
Mr. Harlan, a white Southerner, made race relations and Southern history his field of inquiry after attending a guest lecture by John Hope Franklin at Johns Hopkins University in the 1940s. When the historian Marquis James died in 1955 before he could embark on a planned biography of Washington, Mr. Harlan took up the task.
It took him nearly three decades to finish it, largely because at the same time he was editing, with Raymond L. Smock, a 14-volume edition of Washington’s papers, published between 1972 and 1988.
“Booker T. Washington: The Making of a Black Leader, 1856-1901” was published by Oxford University Press in 1972 and won the Bancroft Prize the following year. “Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 1901-1915,” published by Oxford in 1983, won both the Bancroft Prize and the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1984. “It was the first really three-dimensional work that went into the secret life, the private world, of the most famous black man of his time,” said Mr. Smock, the author of “Booker T. Washington: Black Leadership in the Age of Jim Crow” (Ivan R. Dee, 2009)....
SOURCE: RealClearPolitics (2-2-10)
Of course, there isn't much precedent for this. In 2008, Obama became just the third sitting senator elected president, following John F. Kennedy in 1960 and Warren G. Harding in 1920. Kennedy was replaced by the appointed Benjamin Smith, a Democrat, who safeguarded the seat until Edward M. Kennedy came of age in 1962 and won a special election. Harding's first term in the Senate was up in 1920, and Republican Frank B. Willis successfully ran to replace him....
"I don't know if it will affect his legacy, but it certainly will have an effect on his presidency," said Julian Zelizer, a historian at Princeton University. "Symbolically, it will be read as another sign of his weakness."
"The bottom line is that Obama needs to retake the political initiative," said Stephen J. Wayne, a presidential scholar at Georgetown University. "He needs a Democratic nominee who can win and will support his policy priorities; he needs to return to the policy and political offensive. The election of a sympathetic Democratic Senator from Illinois will help."...
"I doubt whether the President's legacy will stand or fall on that election," said Wayne.
However, Zelizer noted, Obama's agenda took a hit with the Massachusetts loss, and the loss of his Senate seat "would certainly fall into that story."
SOURCE: Forbes (2-1-10)
Howard Zinn, historian, author and lifelong activist, spent his life writing about and remembering the lives of ordinary people. After his death this past Wednesday we begin to go about remembering him.
A native Brooklynite, Zinn attended New York City public schools and worked in shipyards until he joined the Army Air Force during World War II. He entered college on the GI Bill as a 27-year-old freshman and went on to receive his Ph.D. from Columbia University....
An activist-academic, Zinn didn't quite sit comfortably in either realm. In 1956 he joined the history department at Spelman College, a historically all-black women's college in Atlanta but was eventually dismissed for encouraging Spelman's young women to picket and engage in other "unladylike" activities. Later, as a professor at Boston University, Zinn got into many public spats with John Silbur, then-president of the school, for becoming too involved in protests....
As a historian he has been accused of throwing the baby out with the bathwater in rejecting all prevailing historical narratives. In a later work, entitled The Politics of History, Zinn decried the historian's role as a neutral documentarian of human events. Zinn's methods were lambasted by some historians who accused him of sacrificing historical detail and nuance to an ideology that painted all elites as villains and privileged the voices of the oppressed. Nevertheless, in the face of vociferous criticism, Zinn entered the canon of American historical teaching and is one of the most widely read historians of his time....
SOURCE: National Humanities Alliance (2-1-10)
“Dr. Langer’s observation isn’t unique. Each month, it seems, scientists and engineers visit my office to discuss the federal government’s diminished commitment to funding basic scientific research. Over the last three decades federal funding for the physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences has declined as a percentage of GDP- just at the time when other countries are substantially increasing their own R &D budgets....”
Since taking office, President Obama has maintained his commitment to increase research funding and on February 17, 2009 one of his first acts as President was to sign into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a $780 stimulus bill with more than $14 billion in funding for science and health R&D, including $3 billion to the National Science Foundation for grants to advance research and education in science and math.
I know this isn’t news to most of you, but my point is this: President Obama’s R&D agenda did not develop in a vacuum. It was informed to a great extent (and by the President’s own account) by the advocacy of scientists and engineers who came to Washington to make the case for increased federal investment, throughout Obama’s tenure as a member of the United States Senate.
We need your help in Washington, DC on March 8–9 to make the case for the humanities. Your Representatives and Senators need to hear directly from you, as a leader in your field, on the importance of federal investment in the humanities. Please register today to attend the National Humanities Alliance’s Annual Meeting and Humanities Advocacy Day. The 2010 program will include:
- Panel discussions on current developments in humanities policy
- Luncheon and keynote address with NEH Chairman Jim Leach
- Briefings on federal funding and legislative priorities
- Capitol Hill reception
- New advocate training
- Congressional visits
Help maintain our momentum. Together we can raise the profile of the humanities research and education community in Washington, and build an infrastructure for advocacy in the humanities for the long-term. I ask that you let us know as soon as possible how your organization will be represented.
Thank you for your continued support.
Jessica Jones Irons
SOURCE: History Today (2-1-10)
In October 1953 the historian Bernard Lewis wrote an article for History Today about the Ottoman Empire and its relations with Europe. The occasion was the 500th anniversary of the fall of Constantinople; his purpose was to plead for a more balanced assessment of the empire and to accord it an honourable place in world history, to see the fall of Constantinople not as a ‘victory of barbarism, but rather of another and not undistinguished civilization’...
Lewis laid out the historiography that has informed European views of the Ottomans. The events of 1453 happened on the cusp of the printing revolution; one of its first uses was to disseminate virulent accounts of ‘the damnable menace of the Grand Turk of the infidels’; particularly influential was the 17th-century bestseller, Richard Knolles’ The General History of the Turks, about ‘the present terror of the world’.Out of these antecedents has come a complex set of emotional associations about the Turks, coloured by racial memory, admiration for classical Greece and the development of modern nationalisms which have skewed an objective assessment of a great world civilisation:‘for most Europeans,’ Lewis argued,‘the loss of Constantinople is a great historical disaster, a defeat for Christendom which has never been repaired.’ While drawing a distinction between the heyday of the empire in its pomp and its ramshackle exodus in the 19th and 20th centuries, he sketched the achievements of the mature empire – its comparative tolerance, its efficient governance, its creation of peace and security within the Arab lands and the Balkans, its stability, its regeneration of an ossified Byzantine Constantinople, the beauty of its art and architecture. Above all, Lewis pleaded for a study of the Turks through their own eyes and their own words rather than through the prejudices of western travellers....
The Ottomans remain a conundrum, both distant and very near. The last subjects of the Ottoman Empire are still alive, yet its language is so dead that Turkish people cannot read their grandparents’gravestones. Its life was so long that it encompassed both the golden age of Suleiman the Magnificent and the decline of the Sick Man of Europe; the open-armed welcome to the Jews after their expulsion from Spain in 1492 and the fate of the Armenians in 1915. Lewis was inviting us to salute the majesty of the former but has been accused of airbrushing the latter. The Ottomans puzzle the Turks almost as much as they do outsiders. Ataturk encouraged his new republic to jump over the decadent Ottoman centuries and claim connection with the ‘purer’Turkishness of their central Asian origins. In the process the Turks too have been left with a soul-searching debate about ethnicity, history and identity. A clear perspective on the multiple faces of the Ottoman Empire remains a work in progress.
SOURCE: Front Page Mag (2-1-10)
The topic of Massad’s lecture was “Pre-Positional Conjunctions: Sexuality and/in Islam.” While past CNES lectures resulted in Israel-bashing and anti-Semitism, UCLA finally decided to honor its commitment to diversity by attacking another minority group. This time, homosexuals had their turn in the multicultural bile wheel.
From inception to completion, Massad’s lecture was nothing more than gay-bashing. This was on par with the thesis of Massad’s 2007 book, Desiring Arabs, which posits that gay sexuality among Muslims does not exist. Rather, it is a Western plot designed to undermine the Muslim world....
Massad also used the occasion to present a novel – and decidedly homophobic – conspiracy theory. “Queer is an imperialist term,” he announced. “It is part of the Anglo-American gay agenda.” Indeed, according to Massad, “queer is an example of cultural imperialism.” It followed, by his perverse logic, that the “use of ‘gay’ in Iran is imperial politics.” The claim called to mind Mahmoud Ahmadinejad notorious speech at Columbia University, in which he assured the audience that there are no gay people in his country. It’s notable that the views of a theocratic despot should find such staunch backing in the hear of supposedly progressive academia....
SOURCE: Newark Star-Ledger (1-28-10)
"It’s hard to beat denial, because it’s comfortable. It’s everywhere, just everywhere," said Tedlow, a Harvard University Business School professor and the author of several business-related books.
His newest book — "Denial: Why Business Leaders Fail to Look Facts in the Face — And What to Do About It" — is to be released in March. In it, Tedlow explores the consequences of ignoring realities in an increasingly competitive and global marketplace.
"Today, we live in a much less-forgiving world," he said. "You can’t afford denial. You don’t have the cushion of days gone by."...
["]The most recent example is General Motors. Here is a company that for years was losing share point by share point. Finally, they went bankrupt. In the 1950s, when GM’s CEO was Time Magazine’s "Man of the Year," that would have been inconceivable.["]
["]But they lost sight of the customer. In the old days, people kept a car for three years. After the oil shock of the 1970s and stagflation, people kept their cars longer. It means the quality of the car you’re buying becomes far more important, so if Toyota is building quality automobiles that last longer, you’re going to migrate to that.["]
["]The dot-com implosion is another example, where companies were valued not by rock-solid metrics, like return-on-equity or profit, but rather share of eyeballs, with no sense of how to monetize it and convert it into profits. People weren’t asking those questions. And then, as if to show how little we learned, we fell right from that into a housing bubble. It crashed the whole economy. We’re still trying to work our way out of it["]....
SOURCE: FOX News (1-30-10)
Carter studied nuclear physics and taught Sunday School. Obama edited the Harvard Law Review and taught constitutional law. Both can flash a million-dollar smile. And both won the Nobel Peace Prize....
Historian Walter Russell Mead argues both men came to power after exceptionally turbulent times. The Vietnam-Watergate era for Carter. The post-9/11 "war on terror" period for Obama.
And both sought to reduce tensions between the U.S. and its adversaries. But that goal, Mead said, conflicts with another held by both presidents.
"Both Obama and Carter were in some ways visionary idealists," he said. "And they're worried about issues like genocide, like poverty, tyranny around the world. And so it becomes very hard: How do you balance a human rights agenda with a kind of live-and-let live agenda?
"You reach out to Iran and you ask Russia for help, that means that now Putin and Ahmadinejad have the power to either make you look good or look bad. So when you set out to try to reduce tensions with adversaries, you can sometime give hostages to fortune."