Assistant Professor Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey (2003-),
Acting Chair (January-July 2007), Department of American Culture and Literature.
Area of Research: Twentieth century U.S. history and history of U.S. foreign relations, diplomatoc history.
Education: Ph.D. in History, McGill University, Montréal, Canada, May 2000.
Major Publications: Kohn is the author of This Kindred People: Canadian-American Relations and the Anglo-Saxon Idea, 1895-1903 (McGill-Queen's University Press, December 2004), He currently working on a new book manuscript tentively entitled A Hot Time in the Old Town: Theodore Roosevelt, William Jennings Bryan, and New York's Killer Heat Wave of 1896.
Kohn is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles including:"A Necessary Defeat: Theodore Roosevelt and the New York Mayoral Election of 1886," New York History, Spring 2006;"Crossing the Rubicon: Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and the 1884 Republican National Convention," Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, 5, 1, January 2006; and"'The Member from Michigan': The Political Isolation and Unofficial Diplomacy of John Charlton, 1892-1903," Canadian Historical Review, June 2001.
Awards: Kohn is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Fulbright Scholarship February-November 1991: Renowned international scholarship for study abroad. Completed Master's degree in New Zealand.
Robert Vogel Award Received: April 2002: Proud to be first recipient of annual award from History Students' Association recognizing"excellence in teaching."
Formerly Assistant Professor, Department of History, McGill University, 2000-03.
Kohn has written for the popular media including Canada's Globe and Mail; He has appeared on NTV/CNBC-e for a live, one-on-one studio interview on American presidential election and Turkish-American relations (3 November 2004); On CNN Turk as a member of panel at Turkish-American Association's"Election Watch 2004," discussing U.S. presidential elections and the candidates' campaign strategies (2 November 2004), and gave various Television/Radio interviews to Montreal media commenting on start of war in Iraq (March 2003).
I still do not think I have become used to the very flexible concept of"time" in academics. Perhaps because historians regularly deal with decades and centuries, this seems even more pronounced in our craft. My dissertation advisor had an almost Zen-like attitude toward deadlines, viewing them as artificial restraints on the thinking process."You also need time for reflection," he told me early on, probably not knowing that my"reflection" took the form of video games, movies, and Simpsons re-runs. As it turned out, though, my seven years of dissertation work was speedy compared to others. Getting my dissertation published as a book took another four years, as the publisher was forced to wait on funding decisions. One result is that I am still reading new reviews of my book, based on words I wrote nearly ten years ago. This reflects the long delay also in getting articles or book reviews published in journals. Recently I wrote a fairly stern letter to the editors of a journal I had submitted an article to, pointing out that I had not heard anything from them in nearly a year. I received an apologetic reply informing me that the both the editor and assistant editor had recently died!
The result is that most of us in this profession have several works in"the pipeline" at once: a new project, a work under consideration at a journal, another work undergoing final revisions, and something just about to appear. I am not sure how many other occupations force an individual to plan their projects over several years - perhaps civil engineers building a dam. I try to make sure my graduate students understand that, with the common piece of advice that our occupation is a marathon, not a sprint. With undergraduates, time management is a constant juggling act, and poses pedagogical problems to the instructor. On the one hand, in a class of two hundred you can not really have students handing in papers when they feel like it, and a fair deadline is a necessary leveler. On the other hand, I am keenly aware at all times that my class is not the center of their 18- to 22-year-old universe. I am in competition for students' time and attention with several other professors, extracurricular activities, and their busy social lives. Thus, when asked for more time by a student (and I am much more sympathetic to"I ran out of time," than"A distant relative I have not seen in 15 years died"), I try to be flexible to a point.
And managing my own time is one reason I entered academics. If I wanted to work nine-to-five, I would have worked in a bank. Time away from the desk, or out of the office, is a necessary part of any creative or intellectual process. My advisor was essentially correct: an historian needs time to reflect, mull, cogitate - to leave all the facts at the back of one's mind and wait for inspiration. During my Ph.D. work I came up with more ideas walking my dog than sitting at my desk. As Emerson said…. But I guess I will finish this later - the Simpsons is on.
By Edward P. Kohn
About Edward P. Kohn
Associate Professor of History, Baylor University
Area of Research: Eighteenth-century North America, particularly the history of evangelicalism
Education: Ph.D. in History, The University of Notre Dame, August 2001
Major Publications: Kidd is the author of The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism (Yale University Press, 2004), his forthcoming book will be published later this year The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America, (Yale University Press, 2007) Kidd is also working on The Great Awakening: A Brief History with Documents, to be published by Bedford Books, and books titled American Christians and Islam (contract with Princeton University Press) and A Christian Sparta: Evangelicals, Deists, and the Creation of the American Republic (contract with Basic Books). He has also published numerous articles in The William and Mary Quarterly, The New England Quarterly, Church History, and Religion and American Culture. He is also the author of several book chapters including the forthcoming"Evangelicalism in New England from Mather to Edwards," in Kenneth Stewart, ed., Continuities in Evangelical History: Interactions with David Bebbington (InterVarsity Press).
Awards: Kidd is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2006-07 [supports Awakenings: The First Generation of American Evangelical Christianity] Louisville Institute Summer Stipend, 2006;
Council for Christian Colleges & Universities Initiative Grant to Network Christian Scholars, 2006-08;
Baylor University Research Committee Grants, 2004-05, 2005-06;
Baylor University Young Investigators Development Program Grant, 2005-06;
Baylor University Summer Stipend, 2005;
National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, 2004;
Baylor Horizons/Lilly research grants, 2003, 2007-08;
Baylor University Graduate Student Association Outstanding Professor Award, 2006;
Voted Baylor University 2004-05 Faculty Member of the Year, Baylor University Student Government;
Invited participant, National Endowment for the Humanities, Chairman's Forum on Colonial American History, April 2004. Selected for the Young Scholars in American Religion Program, class of 2004-05, sponsored by the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis;
Faculty member of the month, North Russell residence hall, Baylor University, February 2004;
Chosen to represent Baylor University in both the 2003 and 2004 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend competition (one of two faculty members selected);
Graduate Teaching Fellowship, University of Notre Dame (2000-01), with full tuition scholarship, stipend, and adjunct professorship in the History Department and University Writing Program;
Full Tuition Scholarship and Stipend, History Department, University of Notre Dame (1996-2000);
Full Tuition Scholarship and Stipend, History Department, Clemson University (1994-96);
Graduated Cum Laude with Senior Departmental Honors, Political Science Department, Clemson University (May 1994);
Presidential Scholarship, Clemson University (1990-94).
Formerly Adjunct Professor, Bethel College, Mishawaka, IN (1998), and was an graduate instructor at University of Notre Dame (2001-02).
Generally speaking, I think historians tend to write articles and books that are too cautious. While it remains advisable to do dissertations that are fairly narrow, the habits ingrained in us during graduate school often carry over into our maturing careers. Academic and trade publishers want to do business with people willing to take on big, ambitious subjects.
I came into graduate school wanting to write something about religion in colonial New England, having been smitten by the writings of Perry Miller. I gravitated toward the period after the Glorious Revolution partly due to an interest in the connection between Puritanism and evangelicalism, and partly because historians widely recognized the period from 1690 to 1740 as the chief neglected era in colonial New England studies. But I also came to view the dissertation, which became my first book The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism, as a prelude to a bigger project on the First Great Awakening, which is due out later this year.
Just last week I found myself answering the same question I have answered many times since committing to the Great Awakening book:"what are you going to say new about the First Great Awakening?" I'm not going to give my answer here, but only want to suggest that this type of question may reflect professional nervousness about taking on a seminal historical topic researched by many other writers. One of the advantages of tackling the First Great Awakening, undoubtedly, is that no"standard" book exists on the subject (just hosts of excellent biographies and regional studies). But I have found that bringing a new perspective to the primary sources has not been difficult. If anything, novelty has probably been inevitable.
There are always new sources to mine that other historians have ignored or dismissed. The best of the neglected sources for me is the diary of radical evangelical itinerant Daniel Rogers. This generally legible diary is probably the largest single-author archival source related to the revivals of the early 1740s. I can remember reading it and calling my wife, excitedly laughing as I told her the exotic stories I was finding there. (You can read more about Rogers in the book, or in an article I published on him in the March 2007 issue of The Journal of the Historical Society.)
The other reason that a new approach to this old subject seems inevitable is my unique perspective, shaped by my background and experience of recent history. Could living through 9/11 and the presidency of George W. Bush not color my view of the religious past? It changes the kinds of questions I ask, particularly about religion and politics, and the varied effects that evangelicalism produces in society.
Don't hesitate to take on history's classic subjects. Thinking big about future writing projects will make things easier for you professionally, but it will also help us craft a more useable past for our reading publics.
By Thomas S. Kidd
(Cover of Professor Kidd's first book"The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism")
About Thomas S. Kidd
Associate professor of history, and of history and literature, Harvard University
Area of Research: Modern French cultural and intellectual history, as well as the history of gender, sexuality, and empire.
Education: Ph.D. in History and Certificate in Women's Studies, Cornell University, June 2001
Major Publications: Surkis is the author of Sexing the Citizen: Morality and Masculinity in France, 1870–1920 (Cornell University Press, 2006), which examines how masculine sexuality was central to the making of republican citizenship and social order. Her new book project, Scandalous Subjects: Policing Indecency in France and French Algeria, 1830–1930, explores how cultural debates about sexual scandals constituted and regulated the distinction between public and private in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century France.
Surkis's other publications include"Enemies Within: Venereal Disease, and the Defense of French Masculinity Between the Wars," in C. Forth and B. Taithe, eds., French Masculinities (forthcoming).
Awards: Surkis is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Jan Thadeus Teaching Prize, History and Literature, 2005;
Nancy L. Buc Fellow, Pembroke Center for Research and Teaching on Women, Brown University, 2003-2004;
Bowmar Research Assistantship to Prof. D. LaCapra, 1999-2000;
Einaudi Center for International Studies, Research Grant, 1997-98;
Fulbright Research Grant, France, 1996-1997;
Mary K. Sibley, Phi Beta Kappa Research Grant, France, 1996-97;
Council of European Studies, Pre-Dissertation Grant, Summer 1995;
Einaudi Center for International Studies, Travel Grant, Summer 1995;
Einaudi Center Western Societies Travel Grant, Summer 1995;
Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, 1993-1994;
Phi Beta Kappa, elected 1992;
Albert Arnold Bennett, Class of 1872 Award, Brown University, 1992.
Surkis co-chairs the Colloquia in Intellectual and Cultural History at Harvard's Center for European Studies and the Seminar on Gender and Sexuality at the Humanities Center.
I am part of the last generation of grad students to research my dissertation at the"old" Bibliothèque nationale in Paris. With its intricately domed ceiling in forged iron, the reading room was a masterpiece of modern nineteenth-century architecture. Initially built to be rational and efficient, the library I encountered operated according to elaborate rituals. With repetition, these rites, which at first appeared arcane to the American researcher, became a cherished and comforting daily routine.
For those of us used to grazing in an endless frontier of open stacks, the first challenge was learning how to get a place and how to order a book. Entry into the luminous Salle Labrouste was conditional upon an interview; being admitted felt like belonging to a select club. Even when granted permission, securing a seat was not easy, as the limited number of spots- some 360 in all- were in high demand. A late arrival could mean waiting an hour- or more- for one to become available. This intervening time, if often frustrating, also created camaraderie; the wait was also an initiation into the unique temporality and sociability of the"B.N."
Upon entry, a rigid plastic tablet, inscribed with a seat number, had to be delivered to the librarians who surveyed the readers from the back of the room. They exchanged this card for another, smaller one with a barcode, which could then- finally- be used to request books. The order duly dispatched, another wait was in store. Seated at my place, reviewing notes from the day before, I would eagerly anticipate the librarians who would serve up the day's reading from off their loaded book cart. With the inner workings of the stacks well hidden, this conveyance of volumes directly to my place felt almost magical and certainly luxurious. Whether I had ordered a tome of Kantian philosophy, a pulp novel, or a handbook of military hygiene, the texts were treated with an equal measure of at times incongruous respect when they were set in front of me.
This attitude reflected my own approach to historical inquiry, one in which very different sorts of works coincide. In these august surroundings and with such attentive handling, the most minor text seemed worthy of consideration. Here was a concrete experience of the legitimating work of the library itself. My history of how sexuality shaped the meaning and modality of French citizenship at the end of the nineteenth-century found support and sustenance here- and not just because Michel Foucault used to work in the"hemicycle" of the reading room.
The library offered a genuine intellectual and social community. As a destination for scholars from all over, this"national" institution was, in fact, a genuinely cosmopolitan space. The relationships I developed there confirmed my interest in French history. I pursued my studies not because I was particularly passionate about things French (as much as I enjoyed lunching in the nearby Palais Royal), but because of my interest in a set of questions about the historical relationship between democracy and sexual difference and about the political meanings of masculinity. In the library, I met colleagues with whom I exchanged myriad ideas over the bad coffee machine coffee in the stone courtyard off the rue Richelieu. Here, perhaps for the first time in Paris, I felt at home.
By Judith Surkis
About Judith Surkis
Associate Professor, Department of History, Florida State University
Area of Research: U.S. history, Native American history, and the history of colonial North America
Education: Ph.D., History, Brown University, 1996
Major Publications: Gray is the author of The Making of John Ledyard: Empire and Ambition in the Life of an Early American Traveler (Yale University Press, 2007); New World Babel: Languages and Nations in Early America (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999). He is also the Co-editor with Norman Fiering of The Language Encounter in the Americas, 1492-1800 (Berghahn Books, 2000; paperback, 2001), and is also the editor of Colonial America: A History in Documents (Oxford University Press, 2003). Gray is currently working on a new project about the political radical Tom Paine and his quest to build an iron bridge.
Gray is also the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters including:"Island Hopping: Early American History in the Wider World," Journal of American History, to appear in a special 2008 forum,"The State of Early America";"Visions of Another Empire: John Ledyard, an American Traveler Across the Russian Empire, 1787-1788," The Journal of the Early Republic 24:3(Fall, 2004), and"Cultures of Invention: Exploring Tom Paine and his Iron Bridge in the Digital Age," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 115:2 (2006), among others.
Awards: Gray is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
National Endowment for the Humanities, Faculty Fellowship, 2004-2005;
Andrew Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowship, The Huntington Library, San Marino California, 1998-1999;
Dissertation Writing Fellowship, Brown University, 1994-95;
Mellon Resident Research Fellowship, American Philosophical Society, 1994;
J.M. Stuart Research Fellowship, The John Carter Brown Library, 1993-94.
Gray formerly taught at Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois, and Depaul University, Chicago, Illinois. Gray is the editor of"Common-place The Interactive Journal of Early American Life" http://www.common-place.org/.
It is hard to imagine myself as either a"young" or a"top" historian. I'll spare you the false modesty r.e. the"top" bit. But the young feels like a stretch. I note that 42 (I'll be 43 on the first of September) places me among the longer-in-the-tooth cohort of Top Young Historians. But, as the old adage says, age is a state of mind and I feel old. For nine months of the year, I spend my days among people who were born during Reagan's last term. They greet my references to R.E.O. Speedwagon and Earth Shoes with silence. And while my pop culture awareness was once a point of pride, it is now a source of embarrassment (witness the R.E.O. reference). Much of this is because I have spent the last twenty some odd years becoming a historian. And I will tell you, it has been a long slog. There was the whole grad. school part--wherein it was said of my prelim performance:"Gray's not fast on his feet, but he did well enough to pass." There was the three-year job hunt, during which time I discovered that strange species of performance art: the job talk. Then there was the tenure track. In the midst of it all, marriage, children, mortgage, and, yes, life insurance.
Nothing makes you feel old like a life insurance policy. I got mine a few years ago, after our second child was born. With the possible exception of a cemetery plot, there is nothing one can buy that is so directly connected to mortality. Most things we buy because--so we are told--they help us live better. We are told the same about life insurance--it is about peace of mind. But the fact is we buy life insurance to die better. Life insurance is a wager on your mortality; and when you look at the age charts that explain your premiums; when you go for the physical--conducted by the insurance company's non-partisan physician (no best-case scenarios here); when you contemplate just how much you--your self, your total being, mind body and all the rest--are worth, you cannot help but thinking that the grim reaper is not far off. Good luck and G*d Speed.
As I filled out all the paper work for my policy, I found myself thinking there is something very peculiar about this human practice of placing monetary value on life. And I could not help wondering how all this came to be. How have we all come to embrace the idea that a life can somehow be given a price? Have Americans always treated life insurance as just another mundane thing to be purchased? How has the idea of valuing a human life for insurance purposes related to other historical practices--slavery, for instance? By the time I got to the doctor's office, I was beginning to think I was on to something.
After being probed and prodded, I rushed home to scavenge material on the history of life insurance and what I found was that, in its earliest forms, life insurance had very little to do with the insured. Instead, it was usually an instrument--essentially a wager--purchased by third parties on some individual's life. One could purchase a policy on a business associate, a debtor, an artist or craftsperson, or on an entirely random mortal about to go to war, sail the globe, or do some other hazardous thing. Because many believed this all made death profitable, it was outlawed in most European countries until the nineteenth century. England was the notable exception because the English regarded all lives, save that of the monarch, as a species of property (not even the most nimble legal contortion could allow subjects to claim property rights over sovereigns).
The next thing I knew, I was telling people about a book I planned to write on the history of the valuation of human life. Funny how these things happen. I guess, in the end, the sheer randomness of it all makes me feel kind of old as well. I have not come to my research interests through a subtle understanding of scholarship's cutting edge. I have come to them rather like an old antiquarian, prowling dingy used book stores and kitsch- cluttered second-hand shops in search of those bits and pieces of the past that remind me that the world is a very interesting place, and I'd better get back to studying it before my time runs out.
By Edward G. Gray
About Edward G. Gray