Because it’s 65 degrees and sunny I refuse to admit that Christmas is one week away. The stress of the holidays just does not exist for me this year. (This is also probably due to the fact that I’m not working my usual day job, and the fact that my book is off to the editor now, so this is a Very Special Christmas for me!) For the past six weeks, I’ve been walking around Pasadena and San Marino thinking, “isn’t that cute? They think it’s Christmas!” Continue Reading »
A reader writes:
For a Christmas gift exchange, I’m buying a present for someone I don’t know very well . When I asked someone who knew her much better what would work, I was told, books, and history – “not too academic, but not dumbed down”. She’s read a lot about the (American) Civil War, and history generally. So I would like to crowdsource my Christmas shopping to your readers. What recent books would you put in the category of not dumbed down, but not too academic, interesting to a curious informed reader?
Well, friends: what do you think? I assigned Drew Faust’s This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (2008) to a senior seminar a few years ago, and it went over really well. I found the book fascinating and *I* could see the interventions she made in the historiography, but I don’t think they would distract a non-academic reader.
(Whether or not one would want to give a book about death for Christmas–well, that’s another question, isn’t it? Maybe I should brace myself for a follow-up Dear Historiann letter, in which a reader wonders why a Secret
Satan Santa gave her a book about death and what it might mean about their relationship.) Continue Reading »
(That should be Santa’s Elves.) How can I ever return to my day job? Maybe I’ll try to pull a Runaway Bunny, and turn myself into a rare book to hide on the shelves of the Huntington Library, and hope that my Department Chair and colleagues don’t disguise themselves as librarians and pull me off the shelf! Continue Reading »
Historiann, Carla Mazzio, Mark Harmon, Kathleen Wilson, and Susan Juster
This is brilliant! (Well, more like a LOLsob). From Amanda Marcotte at Slate:
One of the problems with simply assuming that sexism drives the tendency of students to giving higher ratings to men than women [in students' course evaluations] is that students are evaluating professors as a whole, making it hard to separate the impact of gender from other factors, like teaching style and coursework. But North Carolina researcher Lillian MacNell, along with co-authors Dr. Adam Driscoll and Dr. Andrea Hunt, found a way to blind students to the actual gender of instructors by focusing on online course studies. The researchers took two online course instructors, one male and one female, and gave them two classes to teach. Each professor presented as his or her own gender to one class and the opposite to the other.
The results were astonishing. Students gave professors they thought were male much higher student evaluations across the board than they did professors they thought were female, regardless of what gender the professors actually were. When they told students they were men, both the male and female professors got a bump in ratings. When they told the students they were women, they took a hit in ratings. Because everything else was the same about them, this difference has to be the result of gender bias.
I took a little break from thinking about history yesterday to think about prehistory instead with a visit to the LaBrea Tar Pits and the Page Museum. The photo above shows what a dig there looks like–a jumble of different animal bones encased in solidified tar.
The open, ongoing digs were interesting, but I had no idea how active the site still is. The Page Museum’s perimeter is full of bubbling tar seeps that will still entrap small animals and permit your children to cover themselves in tar! For realz. Keep an eye out for traffic cones on the lawn alerting you to an open seep. It’s extra-cool, because this Yellowstone National Park-like seismic activity is all happening on Wilshire Boulevard in the middle of Los Angeles, on the same campus as the LACMA. Continue Reading »
Was Jeremiah “Jerry” Duggan The world’s only stylist and leader of a military insurgency? From “Journal of the Siege and Blockade of Quebec by the American Rebels, in Autumn 1775 and Winter 1776,” in Manuscripts Relating to the Early History of Canada, Fourth Series (Quebec: Dawson & co., 1875), and attributed to Captain (at the time, Lieutenant) Francis Daly:
Dec. 4th. Jerry Duggan, late Hair-dresser in Quebec, is stiled Major amongst them, and it is said commands 500 Canadians.
5th. Duggan (Jeremiah) disarmed the inhabitants of the suburbs of St. Roc without opposition. Some cannon shot fired from the Garrison.
Pretty badass for a hairdresser, no? I love the eighteenth century!
Duggan was a leader of the “rebels,” that is, of the American insurgents trying to rally Canadians to rise up against their British masters in Québec during Benedict Arnold’s ultimately unsuccessful siege of the city in 1775-76. (I had no idea that they ever rallied any Canadians to their side, as Daly reports here. For more on “The Martial Macaroni,” and other mid-eighteenth-century satires, see this informative blog post on Mary Darly’s The Book of Caricaturas, 1762, and her career as a London artist, engraver, and printer who satirized the Macaroni style). Continue Reading »
Having a residential fellowship is a lot like going to college, in that you’re surrounded by all of these very interesting and accomplished people and you’re wondering why they admitted a scrub like you. (At least, that was my experience of college. Maybe you were the impressive person who wondered “who let all the scrubs in?”)
Maybe it’s because of its Anglophilic roots, but at the Huntington, there are several class divisions among the fellows. (How do we know the are class distinctions? Because nobody talks about them! I guess to that extent the Huntington is also very American.) The major distinction is between the long-term fellows, who are invited to spend the entire academic year, and the short-term fellows who have funding from one to six months usually. (And then there are the people who have no fellowships but who show up to work here anyway! They are some of the most interesting and accomplished of us all.) Continue Reading »
but my BFF (and this year, my housesitter), Nick Syrett, who was interviewed on Morning Edition by Renee Montagne on college fraternities sexual assault over the longue durée. That guy gets more free media for his book, The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009) than any university press author I know. UNC Press must love him. I was impressed by how scholarly the interview itself was–you can see a transcript here, or listen to the interview yourself.
I don’t think it’s just the commenters at the NPR website, but what is it with the need for members of the general public to tell scholars that their research is either unnecessary or irrelevant? (I’ll leave aside the commenters who resent “the PC odor around this collective guilt-mongering.” That’s sadly predictable!) The majority of the commenters today at NPR (so far!) are appreciative of story and seem to agree with Nick that the connections between fraternities and sexual violence is both longstanding and robust, but then someone like Theresa Younis writes, “Research? Everybody knows that.” (Eyeroll implied?) Continue Reading »