April 16th 2014
In memorium: Stephanie M. H. Camp, 1967-2014

Posted under: American history, Gender, Intersectionality, race, the body, unhappy endings, women's history

scampStephanie Camp died two weeks ago.  I know many of my readers know this already, as a few notices have appeared on Twitter and other blogs as well as everywhere on Facebook.  I wanted to wait to post a notice until I could link to a formal obituary and also pass along information for those of you who might want to write to her family members or to donate to the causes she supported in her lifetime.  Here’s the obituary last week from the Seattle Times:

She was a well-known feminist historian who wrote a groundbreaking book on enslaved women in the antebellum South, and a social-justice activist who dared to take controversial stands. But Stephanie Camp was also known for her love of popular culture and her sense of adventure and for hosting great parties.

The University of Washington history professor died April 2 of cancer at the age of 46.

Professor Camp’s book, “Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South,” which is in its second printing, led to a new understanding of how enslaved women resisted their captivity in the 19th century. It was cited not only for the quality of its scholarship but also for the beauty of the writing.

The book “transformed the field of American social history,” said Chandan Reddy, an associate professor of English at the UW.

That’s not hyperbole.  It’s a book that every time I recommended it to a graduate student or assigned it in class was a revelation to my students.  They raved about Closer to Freedom because of the ways in which it challenged our traditional understandings of slave resistance and made convincing arguments about how women’s lives and work in slavery demanded that we take a broader view of what “counted” as resistance to enslavement. Continue Reading »

12 Comments »

April 15th 2014
Aux Armes, Citoyennes! Sign the National Women’s History Museum petition.

Posted under: American history, women's history

libertyleadingdelacroixFormez vos bataillons!  Via a fired-before-she-could-quit board member, I was alerted to the petition to reform S. 398 in the service of creating the National Women’s History Museum.  (If you missed my post on the NWHM Women’s History Month massacree last week, click here.)  It is addressed to the women of the U.S. Senate and asks them to rewrite S. 398 to require that actual women’s historians and actual museum experts be appointed to the board.  To wit:

[W]e are concerned that the bill, as currently written, does not mandate a place for women’s historians on the Commission. This is a serious oversight. Thus we call upon you to consider submitting an amendment or amendments to improve your bill.

We are aware that amending a bill that you have already supported is an unusual step for members of the Senate to take, but we believe that it is warranted because the project as currently constituted is at risk of failure. The non-profit National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) has, over the past 16 years, done a great deal to publicize the need for a museum of women’s history; indeed, without their persistence, there would be no bills in Congress today. Nevertheless, we fear that, under its continued leadership, the project will not come to fruition because NWHM’s conceptualization and mode of presentation of U.S. women’s history is unprofessional, inaccurate, and incomplete. Since the time when many of you agreed to co-sponsor the bill, the NWHM has dissolved its Scholars Advisory Council, thus barring a distinguished group of professional women’s historians from participating in the project at the outset and making sure that it reflects the highest standards of scholarship in the field. Continue Reading »

26 Comments »

April 11th 2014
Off to OAH to answer the question: is blogging scholarship?

Posted under: American history

Rarin' to get to Atlanta!

Rarin’ to get to Atlanta!

UPDATE 4/16/2014:  The video of our panel is now online.  Thanks to Nic Champagne (@videobynic) who was the videographer & who alerted me to the video.

Sometime last winter, Rosemarie Zagarri invited me to appear on a panel at the 2014 annual conference of the Organization of American Historians on the subject “Is Blogging Scholarship?”  (Tenured Radical has written about our session, pointing out that it’s unfortunately scheduled for Sunday morning in the last sesssion the whole conference!)  I’m really looking forward to meeting (finally!) my fellow panelists Jeffrey Pasley of the University of Missouri and Common-Place; John Fea of The Way of Improvement Leads Home, Michael O’Malley of The Aporetic, and Ben Alpers of USIH Blog.

I’ll give you the big reveal now:  my answer to the question is for the most part Continue Reading »

25 Comments »

April 10th 2014
My sabbatical year: swimming pools, movie stars!

Posted under: American history, happy endings

2014-15 is going to be a pretty sweet year for me, as I’m going to be a long-term fellow at the Huntington next academic year!  Yes, from August 2014 until June 2015, I will hold the Dana and David Dornsife Fellowship there.  (I’ve known for over two months now and have been waiting for the Huntington to update their website, but I just can’t wait any longer to share the good news!)  That’s right, friends:  it’s swimming pools & movie stars for Historiann next year, at least on the weekends.

Here’s what the entire famille Historiann will look like on our way west this summer:

Lest you think my success this year was a coup de foudre, I’ll have you know that I have applied unsuccessfully for a long-term fellowship at the Huntington four times in the previous five years!   Continue Reading »

30 Comments »

April 8th 2014
Women’s historians told “you’re history” during Women’s History Month by the National Women’s History Museum

Posted under: American history, class, Gender, GLBTQ, Intersectionality, jobs, race, unhappy endings, wankers, weirdness, women's history

cowgirlcensoreddumbHow’s that for irony?  That’s what the Scholarly Advisory Council was told by the National Women’s History Museum’s President and CEO Joan Wages last month, according to former SAC member Sonya Michel.  (You can see the NMWH’s announcement of the SAC’s walking papers here.)  Michel, for those of you who don’t know her or her work, is an eminent scholar of gender, povery, and social welfare.  She writes:

Last month’s dismissal of the scholars followed yet another example of a museum offering that embarrassed those of us who were trying to ensure that the institution was adhering to the highest standards in our field. In mid-March, the museum announced that it had launched a new online exhibit, “Pathways to Equality: The U.S. Women’s Rights Movement Emerges,” in conjunction with the Google Cultural Institute. Never informed that the exhibit was in the works, much less given an opportunity to vet it, we were appalled to discover that it was riddled with historical errors and inaccuracies. To pick just one example: Harriet Beecher Stowe was described as having been “born into a family of abolitionists” when, from the time of her birth through her young adulthood in the 1830s, her family actively opposed the abolitionist movement. “Pathways to Equality,” noted Kathryn Kish Sklar, the nineteenth-century specialist who pointed out the error, “could have been written by a middle-school student.”

Actually, if I were Sklar, I would have said that “a middle-school student who had consulted my prizewinning biography of Catherine Beecher could have put together a stronger online presentation.”  Continue Reading »

22 Comments »

April 5th 2014
Just wondering: is being a jerk an important part of “conservative thought and policy?”

Posted under: American history, Gender, GLBTQ, jobs, local news, students, unhappy endings, wankers

Steven Hayward, The University of Colorado-Boulder’s first Visiting Scholar of Conservative Thought and Policy, has worked to ingratiate himself with his students and faculty colleagues.  By “ingratiate,” I mean he wrote an assy blog post for the noted conservative policy journal non peer-reviewed blog Powerline called “Off on a Gender Bender,” in which he complained about and ridiculed some diversity training in which professors were instructed to ask students which pronouns they prefer:

I’m more curious to learn whether there have been many students—or any students, ever—who have demanded to be addressed in class by a different gender pronoun, or called by a different gender name . . . , let alone turn up in class in wardrobe by Corporal Klinger.  My guess is the actual number of such students approaches zero.

So why is this gender-bending diversity mandate so prominent at universities these days?  The most likely explanation is that it (sic) is simply yielding to the demands of the folks who dislike any constraint of human nature in what goes by the LGBTQRSTUW (or whatever letters have been added lately) “community.”  I place “community” in quotation marks here because the very idea of community requires a certain commonality based ultimately in nature, while the premise behind gender-bending is resolutely to deny any such nature, including especially human nature.

Did Professor Hayward ever participate in a study abroad program, or take an anthropology class?  Has he never been introduced to the concept of observing politely the customs of the locals before insulting and belittling them? Continue Reading »

33 Comments »

April 3rd 2014
The author, the work, and “the objectivity question.”

Posted under: American history, book reviews, Gender, GLBTQ, Intersectionality, jobs, race, students, weirdness, women's history

Claire Potter (aka Tenured Radical) has an interesting post on her book blog about the assumptions that audiences make about the politics of historians based on their subject matter choices.  She writes:

It isn’t uncommon that, when hearing about the research I have done on the history of anti-pornography feminism, audiences assume that I must be an anti-pornography feminist too.But do you know that? Do you even have the right to ask? Should I tell you?

My hope for this book is that you will be so compelled by my scholarship that you will never know my private views on this question.

I found the assumption really interesting, in that the vast, vast, vast majority of feminist intellectuals I know and have worked with are far from anti-porn feminists.  Maybe my experiences are idiosyncratic, but in my experience academic feminists–much as most of us are disgusted by mainstream pornography–tend also to be First Amendment absolutists.

Potter continues with a meditation about identity politics and historical subject matter that is really worth the read:

Making assumptions about intellectuals based on superficial knowledge of their research interests is fairly common, but honestly? I think it happens to women, queers and people of color more often. I have a friend and colleague who is African-American, and writing a history of African-American conservative thought. That colleague is frequently assumed to be a conservative, much as I am often presumed, on the basis of nothing, to be an anti-pornography feminist. Continue Reading »

17 Comments »

April 1st 2014
Spring!

Posted under: American history, Bodily modification, European history, fluff, happy endings, the body

zodiacman

Homo Signorum, ca. 1486, from Guild Book of Barber Surgeons

From The Husband-Man’s Guide (Boston, 1712):

April

In this month sow Hemp & Flax, pole hops, set and sow all kind of tender herbs and seeds.  Restore the liberty of the laborious Bee, by opening her hive.  Let Tanners now begin to prepare to get Bark, and the good Housewives mind their gardens, and begin to think of their Daries.  Now purge & bleed, you that need; for the use of Physick is yet very seasonable, the Pores of the body being open; therefore this and the last Month is th’ best time to remove and prevent Causes of sickness, and for speedy remedy in any extremity.  Let blood these two Months the Moon being in Cancer, Acquary or Taurus, but held to be extream perilous for the Moon to be in that sign which ruleth the Member where the Vein is opened.  So also it is held best to take Purges when the Moon is in Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces.  But an Oyntment or Plaster is best apply’d when the Moon is in the same Sign that rules the Member to which it is applicable.

As it says after one of its recommended decoctions for common human complaints: Continue Reading »

19 Comments »

March 30th 2014
Shorter Margaret Wente: porn fine by me, just leave it unexamined.

Posted under: American history, art, bad language, Bodily modification, Gender, GLBTQ, Intersectionality, O Canada, students, the body, wankers, women's history

craftmasterHere’s my brief summary of Margaret Wente’s predictable, by-the-numbers shot at the academic study of pornography:

Provocative lede!  Bad puns.  Academics write only jargon-filled articles that no one will ever read.  Also:  the stupid feminists used to be against porn, but now they’re pro-porn, but they’re still stupid (duh).  Irrelevant academics can’t even make porn interesting.  But you should be very alarmed by this trend!  Academic research on porn will take over our universities!  This research is trivial and therefore all higher education is unworthy of public support.  All college students should watch porn, just not for college credit.

I don’t carry any water for porn studies here, but I also don’t think it’s the most irrelevant thing ever studied in an academic setting.  (Because the internetContinue Reading »

10 Comments »

March 21st 2014
Back to the future: $1.6 million Mellon grant for “broader career paths”

Posted under: American history, jobs

backtothefuture

1989 or 2014? I can’t tell the difference.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

The American Historical Association and four universities will split a $1.6-million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation aimed at broadening the career paths of history Ph.D.’s, officials announced on Thursday.

.       .       .       .       .

The university recipients of the grant—Columbia University and the Universities of California at Los Angeles, of Chicago, and of New Mexico—will each receive about $300,000, Mr. Grossman said. The history association will receive the rest. The institutions will begin different pilot projects, including creating mentor databases, increasing internship opportunities, and crafting curricula designed to give students better real-world skills, such as how nonprofit organizations work.

(Emphasis mine.)  I get it that the Mellon Foundation (and the AHA, which also gets a share of the dough) wants the prestige of these programs in taking the lead in a project like this.  But are Columbia, UCLA, and Chicago Ph.D.s really the ones having trouble finding jobs, provided that they expand their job searches beyond major metro areas in the U.S. and internationally?  I doubt that they’re truly disadvantaged. Continue Reading »

37 Comments »

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