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: The Local (Switzerland) (2-11-13)
Serge Klarsfeld, known along with his wife, Beate, for documenting details of the Holocaust and for racking down former Nazis, maintains that 3,000 Jews were stopped from entering Switzerland.
Klarsfeld’s claim, recorded in an interview with German-language weekly newspaper Der Sonntag, contrasts with the previous estimate of 25,300 made in a report issued in 1999 by the Bergier Commission.
“Since 1999, we have made progress with our research,” Klarsfeld, 77, told the newspaper....
SOURCE: Vanessa Varin for AHA Today (2-12-13)
Vanessa Varin is assistant editor, web and social media at the American Historical Association
Live-tweeting at conferences is growing in popularity, but should there be limits? While at the annual meeting this year, I had the opportunity to talk with bloggers and self-described “Twitterstorians” who expressed concern over the lack of live-tweeting etiquette. Not sure what live-tweeting is or why historians are concerned? Here is a quick rundown of the issue:
Over the last few months I have read dozens of blog posts from scholars concerned with the implications of live-tweeting for academic conferences. This includes most recently Ryan Cordell’s piece in Chronicle, and Claire Potter’s blog post for Tenured Radical. While the medium adds an exciting new way to participate in scholarly debate during an academic conference, it also poses new questions about professional ethics. We are not necessarily proposing a set of formal guidelines, but since the issue is a matter of concern for some of our members, we want to start a conversation. Below is a series of dos and don’ts that I have collected to begin the conversation.
You may notice a few question marks in our list. I hope this post will spark Twitterstorians, Facebook followers, and AHA Today readers to offer their own dos and don’ts that I can fill in. At the AHA we are deeply interested in hearing how our social media followers feel about this issue, and we hope this post will spark a continuing conversation about how social media not only fits into the intellectual community, but how it enhances it.
What did we miss? Please tweet or Facebook us at AHAhistorians and help us finish this list!
SOURCE: CUNY News (2-6-13)
The University's Board of Trustees appointed City College of New York historian and author Dr. Judith Stein a University Distinguished Professor at its January 28 meeting. The appointment recognizes Professor Stein's outstanding scholarship over the past four decades, which has helped shape the study of 20th century U.S. history, labor history, African-American history and political economy.
The title of Distinguished Professor is conferred on an individual by the University Board of Trustees after completion of reviews at the campus level and the University level in recognition of exceptional scholarly achievement....
SOURCE: Vanessa Varin for AHA Today (2-5-13)
Vanessa Varin is Assistant Editor, Web and Social Media at the American Historical Association.
January 1, 2013, marked the sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation. Although the general historical consensus is that slavery was at the root of the conflict, questions about the role of the proclamation in defining the Civil War and 19th century race relations continue to dominate the field. In the past few weeks, Washington, D.C., has hosted two events on the topic: A panel discussion at the National Archives (NARA), chaired by Annette Gordon-Reed and featuring James Oakes, Eric Foner, James McPherson, and Ed Ayers, and a more intimate lecture led by Foner at the Wilson Center and sponsored by the National History Center. The well-attended events were an opportunity to promote this history to the public, and a window into the current state of the debate over how we should understand the document and its centrality to the Civil War.
A Fractured Narrative
Historian Stephen Ash once playfully wrote, “Historians continue to confound those who insist that everything that can possibly be said about the Civil War has already been said.” And yet, as the NARA panel pointed out, the lack of a common, comprehensive narrative of the conflict is inhibiting our understanding of the war. According to Oakes, new political, social, and cultural schools of thought rose to dominate the field by the 1960s, thereby fracturing the earlier one-dimensional narratives. This splintering has continued in the last decade as micro-histories have grown in popularity, and in the consensus of most of the panel, Oakes argued that the greatest challenge in his field is for historians to unite these subfields to form a more complete history of the conflict.
The Teleological Approach to the Civil War
From the idea of a fractured narrative, Ayers, Oakes, and Foner then pointed out the dangers of a teleological narrative of the Civil War, one in which events lead clearly to an inevitable culmination. According to Ayers, “history is a series of punctuations that can alter a person’s world view.” Anti-slavery legislation did not happen naturally, he argues, but was forced by a series of unexpected events. Foner seconded Ayers’s point by arguing that historians tend to see the Civil War unfolding in one direction (toward a Union victory), but the war had no predetermined goal. Instead, a deeply divided North and bitter political opposition made the war an unpredictable journey....
SOURCE: The Way of Improvement Leads Home (2-5-13)
Anyone familiar with the small but vibrant community of digital historians knows the name Jeff McLurken. He is the chair of the History and American Studies Department at Mary Washington University in Fredericksburg, VA and an example for all historians interested in embracing the digital age.
The Mary Washington University website is running a profile of McClurken that is worth a look. Here is a taste:
His creative and tech-savvy charges have a say in everything from the syllabus to assignments and provide insight on the new and innovative courses taught by the associate professor and chair in the Department of History and American Studies.
McClurken, an expert in Civil War history and a sought-after presenter on digital learning, says the experience is just as beneficial for him as it is for the students.
“I am inspired by and driven by those interactions with students,” said McClurken.
That’s just what happened in a seminar two years ago. When students questioned the technology behind communications and how the Internet affects the way they think and learn, McClurken put them to work designing a History of the Information Age course.
Read the rest here.
SOURCE: Yahoo News (2-4-13)
...Described as "deformed" and "unfinish'd", jealous, and ambitious hunchback in Shakespeare's play, which was first performed in the 1590s, it is difficult to know if the man the playwright said battled on foot and cried out "A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!", is a true reflection of the king, or merely a creation of imagination.
According to scientists at the University of Leicester, there is evidence of curvature of the spine - suggesting the unattractive quality had not been a slander by those who opposed Richard....
Historian Suzannah Lipscomb wrote in a BBC online article: "It is not surprising that for centuries Richard III has been synonymous with evil tyranny and physical deformity.
"To argue otherwise has been to take on three of history's greats - Sir Thomas More, William Shakespeare and Winston Churchill, all of whom argued that Richard had been a man with a crooked back and a crooked life."...
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed. (2-4-13)
Stanley A. Karnow, a nationally acclaimed author and journalist whose seminal books about Vietnam and the Philippines during times of war have been taught in many college classrooms, died in Potomac, Md., on January 27. He was 87 and had been suffering from congestive heart failure.
For more than a decade and a half, Mr. Karnow worked in Southeast Asia as a correspondent for Time, Life, The Saturday Evening Post, The London Observer, The Washington Post, and NBC News.
In 1983, Mr. Karnow published a 750-page book, Vietnam: A History, that focused primarily on the United States' role in that country. Mr. Karnow's work was praised for its straightforward and thoughtful account of a war that began with an attack on a French garrison in 1954 and ended in 1975, soon after the final withdrawal of U.S. service members....
SOURCE: John Feehery in The Hill (1-30-13)
John Feehery is President of Communications and Director of Government Affairs for Quinn Gillespie and Associates, Washington, D.C.'s top public affairs firm.
I recently wrote an article about the legacy of Barack Obama, and I wrongly threw Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian, under the bus.
This is what I wrote:
“Historians will rate President Barack Obama as one of our nation’s greatest presidents. The question is: Was he any good? That the history profession is dominated by a liberal elite comes as no surprise. Robert Dallek, Arthur Schleschinger, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Michael Beschloss would all rank both Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson toward the top of the list, and Ronald Reagan toward the bottom. George W. Bush will never, ever get his due for how he handled the 9/11 attacks as he passed landmark education and Medicare legislation or for his remarkable commitment to fighting AIDS in Africa.”
Mr. Beschloss wrote to correct the record: “It is in no way accurate that I would rank Ronald Reagan at the bottom of great presidents. I would direct you to, for instance, the introduction I did for the book on the RR Library (The Presidential Portfolio, PublicAffairs 2003) or the piece I wrote for Newsweek about President Reagan when he died in 2004 … Could you please correct this in print? People learn from what you write and I would not like to have this misapprehension go uncorrected for your audience.”...
SOURCE: Eunice Williams in the Chronicle of Higher Ed. (2-4-13)
The academic job market is an exercise in captivity, and I am still its prisoner.
To some extent I've ensured my place in this life by acceding to the terms of academe. I've defended my dissertation, and so I've unofficially transformed myself from Eunice Williams, Ph.D. candidate, to Dr. Williams. Even if I'm befuddled by the job market, I've still agreed to abide by the rules of the game.
The problem, I think, is that I'm still not sure that I've learned all of the rules. I had a campus interview in December that seemed to go well, but, alas, I got no offer out of it. It felt good to practice my job talk, to see what it was like to meet with potential colleagues, and to learn the etiquette of breaking bread with search-committee members....
SOURCE: Jasmine Alinder for TeachingHistory.org (1-29-13)
Jasmine Alinder is Associate Professor of History, Coordinator of Public History, and Director of Urban Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Milwaukee, WI, has an important civil rights history that not many people know about. In the 1960s, battles raged here over open housing and school desegregation, and teens led much of the movement. Decades later, we still suffer from racial and economic segregation, but how many of our students can explain why? And what would it mean to them to find out that in 1960s Milwaukee, youth protested such inequality?
In 2010, a project team of archivists, digital librarians, students, and historians launched the March on Milwaukee Civil Rights History Project, an archive of primary sources and contextual materials. But how could we use this resource to help youth learn about their city’s past and feel invested in their communities? This question led to an unlikely partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee History and Archives Departments; an arts education nonprofit, Arts@Large; and a class of high school students with one very dedicated teacher. I say unlikely for two reasons. First, not everyone would combine social studies curriculum with the arts. Second, digital archives are valued for their accessibility, and instead of scaling our efforts up to reach the widest audience, we went the other way and decided to work closely with a dozen students from a school for at risk youth....
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (2-4-13)
The historical enterprise -- that is, the work of historians, in any sphere -- has become too divided, even splintered, Robert Townsend believes. While the American Historical Association was founded with the intent of bringing together "professors, teachers, specialists, and others" (according to its original call, in 1884), today the profession of history is seen as synonymous with the work of professors at research universities -- to the detriment of the discipline as a whole.
Townsend ought to know whereof he speaks: he is the deputy director of the AHA, where he has worked for over 20 years; he is also the author of numerous studies on the state of the historical profession.
In his new book, History's Babel: Scholarship, Professionalization, and the Historical Enterprise in the United States, 1880-1940 (University of Chicago Press), Townsend traces the beginnings and growth of what he calls the "professional shift," in which historical work splintered into separate professions: academic research, teaching, and public history....
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed. (2-4-13)
Stan Nadel sat with fellow historians around a lunch table as they introduced themselves one by one. His peers were greeted with warm nods and smiles, but when he stated his name, Mr. Nadel was met with surprise. The man across from him clapped his hand over his mouth.
"What the hell?" Mr. Nadel says he thought, recalling that moment. It was 1997, and he was attending a history conference in Oklahoma.
The lunch mate had graduated from a Ph.D. program at the University of Hawaii, a place Mr. Nadel had never visited. Perhaps the young man was familiar with Mr. Nadel's publications, he thought. Maybe he was a former colleague or a student.
It turned out, Mr. Nadel said, that the man had no connection to him at all. The stranger had recently accepted a one-year teaching appointment off the tenure track, which had prompted a colleague to warn him of Mr. Nadel's experience....