Comments on: History departments: lite, brite, and mighty white http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Wed, 24 Sep 2014 22:47:30 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/comment-page-1/#comment-421 Tue, 12 Feb 2008 04:01:13 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/#comment-421 Hey–thanks for visiting and commenting, Profane. I’m glad you’re teaching women’s history, as it’s important for students to see everyone involved in it. (Although you probably get more credit for being more “balanced” and not as motivated by ideology than women professors of women’s history, right ;) I’ve got a good male friend who teaches women’s history, and he wrote an article last year about that phenomenon.

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By: Profane http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/comment-page-1/#comment-418 Tue, 12 Feb 2008 03:28:27 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/#comment-418 I would just point out that the ‘disruption’ works in a number of directions. As a white, male, post-feminist medievalist who is currently teaching a course for our Women’s Studies minor I can attest to that. I wonder if one of the issues we are facing is essentially generational, like the debates between second and third way feminists. To someone like myself who received their Ph.D. this decade, teaching a Women’s Studies course is no big deal. I imagine it would be rather awkward for my senior colleagues.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/comment-page-1/#comment-234 Wed, 06 Feb 2008 06:37:34 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/#comment-234 SB–thanks for visiting and commenting. I’m sorry that my post implied that women historians were not feminists. I was just trying to sort out the differences between women’s historians and women historians–women’s historians are indeed overwhelmingly self-identified feminists, and I think most women historians are too, but not all of them. As I said, I agree that the fact that not every woman in most history departments has to do women’s history is a net benefit to all of us.

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By: SB http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/comment-page-1/#comment-233 Wed, 06 Feb 2008 00:58:19 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/#comment-233 Two thoughts:

1. Speaking from the viewpoint of someone who teaches at a history dept at an R-1 not on one of the coasts, even for us it is very hard to find minority candidates in a general search (U.S. History, say). We have hired a lot more minority candidates in the last ten years, and I think our R-1 status has helped us there, but most of them in studies positions or in non-U.S. fields. I think we would be overjoyed to get members of minorities onto our short lists in other fields. Maybe our problem is that we’re competing with NYU.

2. Speaking as a feminist who is not a women’s historian, isn’t part of feminism getting to do what you want and not being expected to do something in particular because of your gender? I am so tired of being berated by my colleagues who study women for allegedly not being feminist enough because of not having made gender one of my areas of specialty. One of the great aspects of living when I do is getting to study something that fascinates me and was previously the province only of a very specific group of men, and I don’t see those of us who aren’t focused on gender as somehow failing to live up to the feminist ideal.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/comment-page-1/#comment-221 Tue, 05 Feb 2008 03:14:45 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/#comment-221 I know what you’re saying–but when you look at it nationally, MOST academic jobs are not terribly desirable for one reason or another, or probably at least two out of three major reasons (location, teaching load, and money. I count myself lucky to have found a job that’s got one or two out of three going for it!) It’s an interesting phenomenon that many (but not all, right GayProf?) of the top-flight graduate institutions are in major coastal metro areas (NY/LA/Chicago/Boston/Washington), but the vast majority of us end up in rather rural or exurban places nowhere near these major cities, and at places with 3-2 loads or much, much higher. So, if you’re think you’re competing with NYU for candidates, well, yeah, you’re out of luck. But it’s likelier that you’re competing with Iowa State, or Wittenberg, or Southern Illinois, or Utah State, etc. And for many people, your university would beat all of those. (Not that I’m knocking those places–some people would prefer to be at those schools, too.)

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By: Heather Munro Prescott http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/comment-page-1/#comment-220 Mon, 04 Feb 2008 23:18:12 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/#comment-220 I’m not currently on a search committee, but have done so in the past. I would love to diversify the faculty in my department. The difficulty for those of us at non-elite, non-flagship state institutions is with recruitment. How do we get more minority applicants to apply to an institution where they are going to make considerably less than a R1 institution, and teach 4 courses a semester? We are located near several major, desirable, metropolitan areas but we just can’t compete in terms of salaries and workload.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/comment-page-1/#comment-219 Mon, 04 Feb 2008 21:50:19 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/#comment-219 GayProf–you are totally right. Most U.S. History surveys remain impervious to much of the most innovative and exciting scholarship of the last 30 years. And, when we introduce a few weeks’ of reading on slavery, family/sexuality history, or Native American history, we get complaints from students that the course was “not real American history, but only about blacks, women, and Indians.” Historians have to think harder about getting students to see a bigger picture than most survey courses and textbooks allow, which (as you argue so ably) probably has a lot to do with permitting students to see a broader diversity of professors in History departments.

Thanks again for your thoughtful post and for providing a forum for an interdisciplinary discussion of these issues.

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By: GayProf http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/comment-page-1/#comment-218 Mon, 04 Feb 2008 21:36:48 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/#comment-218 Thanks for the shout-out. I take your points. Indeed, if I had more time, I would have pointed out the difference between women who are historians and historians of women’s experiences (or how however we want to cut that up). All the same, though, I look at many of the women’s studies programs at R1 institutions and see that much has not changed since 1981.

Also, you are right about the great works appearing since This Bridge. Still, I also don’t see that many of them assigned in “regular” U.S. history classes.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/comment-page-1/#comment-217 Mon, 04 Feb 2008 20:53:26 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/#comment-217 Thanks for visiting and commenting, Notorious. That’s funny that you thought that doing women’s history would make you MORE marketable–my experience has been exactly the opposite. (But, I certainly hope you have better luck than me!)

Example: I’ve been asked, when interviewing for a “straight” job in early American history, if I would be “frustrated. . . because we’ve already got a women’s historian?” It was a fascinating question that revealed a number of assumptions: 1) we can’t have more than one of THOSE bee-yatches running around our department, because there’s only room for one women’s history course, 2) women’s historians don’t actually teach anything other than that narrow sub-field called women’s history, and 3) they certainly can’t represent a whole field or time period, whereas political or religious history types can unquesitonably do so. (And guess what: I didn’t get the job! But you guessed that already.)

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By: Notorious Ph.D. http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/comment-page-1/#comment-216 Mon, 04 Feb 2008 20:29:47 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/04/history-departments-lite-brite-and-mighty-white/#comment-216 You know, I took a field in Women’s History in grad school, precisely because I figured that hiring committees would *expect* me to teach WH just because I was a woman. It was purely a marketing strategy. But, somewhere along the way, I got seduced, and now I really like it a lot.

That said, I think you’re right about what you said: nonwhite hires remain status quo if they’re in nicely segregated fields of study. It’s the potentially disruptive ones like those you mention that really have the power to shake things up, not by bringing an ethnicized agenda to traditional fields (though that can be productive, too), but simply by *being*.

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