June
20th 2008
Bossy broads round-up: come and get it, boys!

Posted under: American history, Berkshire Conference, class, European history, Gender, Intersectionality, jobs, race, women's history

So much to blog about, so little time when one is writing pointless books about irrelevant (is it redundant to say they’re female?) people that will nevertheless destroy the historical profession!  Taking a break from my vulgar colonial schemes to corrupt the history and memory of the eighteenth century, here’s what I found recently in the twenty-first century:

  • The pay gap in academia is worse at R-1s, and it starts at the moment of hire.  (Good news for those of you at SLACs, CCs, and regional universities!  Right?)  The intrepid Scott Jaschik reports that “[a]t research universities, even controlling for variables such as discipline and numbers of papers published and other factors, there is an unexplained 9 percent salary gap that favors men.”  Whoodathunkit?  Only everyone who reads Historiann.com!
  • Teh funny:  via Notorious Ph.D., a blind-reviewer voodoo doll.  I’m going to buy two.
  • Tenured Radical explains (with mostly small words that even the ig’nant can understand) why women’s history is important. 
  • Another Damned Medievalist at Blogenspiel has two posts up about the Berks.  One features a primer about how to get ready for the 2011 conference, as well as some compliments about the conference.  (I am sure the 2011 Program Committee will be happy to build on the numbers of medieval panels, roundtables, and workshops featured in 2008!)  The other post, Transformative Conferences, features a discussion in the comments about the fracas at the panel in honor of Susan Mosher Stuard in Kalamazoo last month, when a man stood up to suggest that perhaps women’s history was too important to be left to women historians!  (As if!  Yeah, the men were going to get around to women’s history, when a bunch of women showed up and started making trouble and smearing menstrual blood all over the seats at conferences!)  Hey, medievalists:  I’ve been hearing whispers about this for weeks now–you have to let us Americanists in on the gossip, too!  (At least tell Historiann, who remembers Susan Stuard fondly from her undergraduate days, and whose BFF is a medievalist.)  I’m glad they did a panel in Stuard’s honor, and what a fitting send-off into retirement was the learned comment by the Venerable Bede there.  Nice work, dude!
  • Brett Holman offers le dernier mot on this manufactured controversy at Airminded, which reminds me of that old bumper sticker:  “Against abortion?  Don’t have one.”  Don’t like women’s and gender history?  Then don’t do it, but STFU!  (It seems so obvious, doesn’t it?)  Thanks, Brett!
  • Knitting Clio schools Hendrik Hertzberg, and calls out a lot of the bullcrap prounouncements on African American history and American women’s history by the ig’nant class of elites who dominate our political discourse.  (That cowgirl knows her bullcrap!)
  • Oh, and the sexy cowgirl picture?  This one is for commenter Fratguy, who I think has a little crush on the cowgirls here at Historiann.  Come and get it!  (Here’s a close-up; click the top one for a larger view.)

17 Comments »

17 Responses to “Bossy broads round-up: come and get it, boys!”

  1. Rev Spitz on 20 Jun 2008 at 9:26 am #

    “don’t believe in abortion , don’t have one” is that like, don’t believe in shooting babykilling abortionists don’t shoot one?
    SAY THIS PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I am a sinner and am headed to eternal hell because of my sins. I believe you died on the cross to take away my sins and to take me to heaven. Jesus, I ask you now to come into my heart and take away my sins and give me eternal life.

  2. Historiann on 20 Jun 2008 at 9:47 am #

    Say this prayer, Rev Spitz: Dear Jesus, why do I bother arguing with people who really don’t give a crap about my crazy ideas and arguments?

    You’re done here, crazy guy.

  3. New Kid on the Hallway on 20 Jun 2008 at 10:48 am #

    Wow, you get a lovely crop of crazies over here! I clearly don’t blog about interesting enough things. You gotta love people who have so much time on their hands that they troll random blogs that happen to mention one of their trigger words.

    Anyway, what I meant to say: there were 2 panels in honor of SMS at Kzoo – I missed the one that ADM and Notorious talk about in the Blogenspiel comments, but went to the second. At the one I attended, Theresa Earenfight, Dyan Elliott, Joel Rosenthal and Merry Wiesner-Hanks gave really interesting papers on the impact of SMS’s work and what they saw as changes in women’s history from the time SMS first began publishing. (I am blanking on the details, but they were interesting, I promise.) There was much discussion and praise of Women in Medieval Society and Joel Rosenthal reminisced about SMS attending a conference at SUNY Stonybrook with a box full of the books and selling them herself.

    Two interesting things about that panel: first, there was a young man who didn’t appear to have attended the whole panel who piped up at one point in the Q&A to offer a completely simplistic answer to a very complex question (again, I apologize for not remembering what exactly – but basically, it was a question that many of the eminent scholars presenting had been researching for many years, and he piped up with something like, “Well, don’t you think the reason is X?” where X is something completely obvious). There was that moment where basically the entire room paused, thinking, “What do you say to THAT?”, then (I think) Merry W-H said something noncomittal and polite, and sensible discussion resumed. Said young man apparently left a few minutes later. What I want to know is what the hell makes someone who was clearly an early-stage grad student (if that) who hasn’t even attended the whole session think they can tell a room full of people who’ve been studying women’s history throughout their careers, including some of the most prominent medieval women’s historians of all time – people who INVENTED medieval women’s history – something they don’t already know? Oh, wait – I know: because they’re WOMEN. Seriously, that doesn’t happen at non-women’s history panels I attend.

    Second interesting thing: in her paper, Dyan Elliott brought up a panel at the AHA with Connie Berman, Judith Bennett, and someone else whose name escapes me, in which they argued that students don’t want to go to the archives any more – they want to read treatises and literature and look at representations and do cultural stuff. That led to some interesting discussion in which the literature people in the room stated that their students all WANT to go to the archives. Others pointed out – which was my take on the matter – that going to the archives is lovely, but expensive and time-consuming, and that it’s often very difficult to get the funding to have the time/money to do so. If you have to go to Europe to go to the archives, and your grad program funds its students through TAships, and has a strict deadline for completing the dissertation, it’s a lot easier to read printed sources and do cultural kinds of things than to do the traditional hard-core archival-based social history that’s been so important in women’s history. But I also think it was an expression of a change in approaches to women’s history and in fact, in the historical discipline more generally (I think it also connects to the rise of gender history as opposed to women’s history – to me, women’s history has often been about, among other things, recovering details of women’s lives – hence, archival stuff is crucial – whereas gender is a more conceptual thing, and can definitely be studied through archival stuff, but doesn’t have to be, if that makes any sense).

    Sorry to go on so long, but I thought you might find the SMS panel interesting!

  4. Historiann on 20 Jun 2008 at 11:07 am #

    NKOTH–thanks for such a wonderful recap of the *other* SMS panel! (How wonderful for her that she was showered with this attention, and yet how ridiculous that two of her male interlocutors just had to pee in the pool.)

    I think you make two great points: 1) the shocking lack of respect shown by some men towards even quite eminent women scholars (of which I would argue we’ve seen a corollary on-line recently by Miss Mary Rusticus), and 2) the return to the archives and to social history, which was a trend clearly evident at the Berks. I think the discussion after the Berman & Bennett panel you describe captures something important that I didn’t get a chance to write about in my earlier posts on the “breaking” of cultural history, namely, that it sometimes takes more time and money than grad students or junior scholars have to “do” social history right. The database Daina Berry has created (see yesterday’s post) is something she could do only because she’s a tenured associate prof. with a book out. And, all of the women (and the one man) on the Researching and Writing the Lives of Unfree Women panel I talked about yesterday were tenured associates, at least–people who have the time and usually more money.

    However, in defense of putting the boots to graduate students behinds: it’s one thing if archival research requires a European trip and months of research, but it’s quite another if you’re doing American history and can even get documents photocopied in U.S. archives! And there are a lot of younger people in my field who I think have slacked off in terms of archival research. You’re exactly right: women’s history (like African American history) takes time and work in the archives. While I’m sure a Foucauldian read of Thomas Jefferson’s writings will help you “read” enslaved women back into the record, rooting around in the Albemarle County Court House or at the Virginia Historical Society for old plantation records is also an important piece of you research methodology. (To be fair, a lot of colonial history records in VA were destroyed in the Civil War…but there are still a lot out there!)

  5. Historiann on 20 Jun 2008 at 11:10 am #

    And p.s. to any other crazies who wants to post off-topic about their pet issue: please take your meds and think a while before you do so, because I will summarily ban you. This is a thread about women’s history and women in academia, not about ABORTION ABORTION ABORTION O MY GOD PRAY TO JESUS.

    Meds first. Think second. (Or, just go away.)

  6. Feminist Law Professors » Blog Archive » Historiann Has A Great “Bossy Broads Round Up” on 20 Jun 2008 at 11:30 am #

    [...] Read it here! [...]

  7. Notorious Ph.D. on 20 Jun 2008 at 11:31 am #

    Interesting thing about the guy at the first SMS panel: he was most definitely *not* wearing a nametag. I’m impressed that trolls have found a way to practice their craft in viva.

    The upshot (as I interpreted it) was this: Have you ladies considered that your energies might be better spent by adding women to the master narrative? Besides, the way you’re doing it now, you’re making it, like, an exclusive club, and men are afraid to play there. So that’s not a good way to do things, don’t you agree? (Translation: “Dear God, won’t somebody please think about the men?”)

    Sad thing is, I think that this guy is more like my commenter Chris than like Miss Mary: he just wants to help the girls out. As if mulling over the relationship between WH and the Master Narrative had never occurred to us. ::sigh::

  8. Knitting Clio on 20 Jun 2008 at 11:49 am #

    Not to be a spoil sport — but having served as a blind reviewer on numerous occasions, and worked hard to provide constructive comments, I think the voodoo doll idea is a bit childish. Sounds like a grad. school version of Rate My Prof. Guess what, not everyone thinks you’re brilliant!

  9. Historiann on 20 Jun 2008 at 12:06 pm #

    Oh, but I’m sure no one would ever put the evil juju on Knitting Clio! (And yes, it’s childish, but *I’m* brilliant too–why can’t everyone see that?) Well, maybe Herzberg would like to stick it to you…?

    Notorious: yes, the “foes of women’s history” like Miss Mary Rumphius are just silly, it’s the ones who *mean so well* when they try to school the girls who are more of an irritation. Why didn’t those totally obvious things occur to us before??? How wonderful that Susan Stuard, Judith Bennett, Connie Berman, and Merry Wiesner-Hanks now have the benefit of all twenty-four years of your wisdom! PRAY TO JESUS TO THANK HIM FOR THIS GRADUATE STUDENT, WHO HAS SHOWN US THE LIGHT!

  10. Fratguy on 20 Jun 2008 at 12:23 pm #

    Historiann,

    Thanks for the cowboygirl pics, afraid I have nothing to add to this thread other than Mercurius is a sad sad human being, hope he posts soon though, it has been a rough morning and I’m looking to vent some frustration.

    As to the issue of having a crush, I will only own up to being glad that the IT guys at work see this as a stricltly academic site and Mrs Fratguy may be receiving some non traditional western wear come next Feb 14th.

  11. Historiann on 20 Jun 2008 at 12:37 pm #

    Shhhh…we won’t tell, Fratguy! Sorry you’ve had a bad morning–but, I’m afraid that Miss Mary is rather unworthy of your ire. No one is siding with Miss Thing, and he must just be beside himself that he as a self-proclaimed MAN isn’t getting more respect as an anonymous grad student compared to the women at the Berks and who comment here who are not anonymous, and who have written, you know, lots of books ‘n’ stuff.

  12. Respek : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 20 Jun 2008 at 1:27 pm #

    [...] and Notorious Ph.D., Girl Scholar, but even to senior women scholars.  Go read here and here (in the comments) for descriptions of the two sessions last month at the 2008 International [...]

  13. Indyanna on 20 Jun 2008 at 2:43 pm #

    Interesting point that New Kid makes, because I was at a talk last night at the McNeil Center where the presenter said *exactly* that about gender history and women’s history. Viz., that gender history is about “language” while women’s history is about “behavior.” I’m not sure I agree, and it was fairly difficult to disentangle the presenter’s specific intent from what was a very dense argument about her concrete project. But I whipped out an envelope and wrote this down precisely because it evoked some of the questions Historiann has been raising lately under the rubric that cultural history has just “broke.”

    On the question of age/stage/status and the archives, it’s a pretty mixed picture, I think. Around here, you could literally stalk the relevant floors [4 and 5] for history in the area’s preeminent research university library, or the reading room of one of the country’s most major historical societies, often without seeing ANY senior scholars. (Truly senior ones, I mean). Maybe we should posit that archival work crests at the dissertation stage of (SOME) first projects, and then early on in (MANY) second book projects, but beyond there the transcendent impulse is to synthesize, pontificate, and/or criticize or re-read “big argument” issues in the field in question? Not sure. Like many of the themes on this blog, family status and obligations may be as relevant as institutional research budgets or demand-reward structures.

  14. Historiann on 20 Jun 2008 at 3:01 pm #

    Hi Indyanna–good points about life intruding after the first book and tenure. I sure seem to have slowed down on the conference circut and research trips for the past 5 years or so–but then, it might have something to do with having moved out to Colorado too, instead of someplace closer to my research archives.

    You’re right that in some ways, junior scholars and grad students are freer. But, as in life, it seems we either have the time (when we’re younger) or the money (when we’re older), but rarely both at the same time!

  15. New Kid on the Hallway on 20 Jun 2008 at 5:32 pm #

    Interesting point about not seeing the REALLY senior scholars in the archives (though I’ve run into them in the BL and the PRO in England, definitely). I think the impulse to synthesize/make “big arguments” at that career stage is true (and honestly, I think it’s a good one – I think many jr people are so specialized that we need people out there trying to write the big picture stuff!). Something that’s the case with some medieval topics, however, is that once you’ve mined enough archives, you can settle back and write books steadily with that material without always having to go back for extended stints. I work in a field that has a LOT of medieval archival stuff printed (all those industrious British antiquarians), which helps. For instance, my grad advisor is a hard-core archival social historian, but I don’t believe she has to immerse herself in the archives that much these days, because she’s got such a good pool of archival material accumulated (and for the Middle Ages, there is only so much material available – if you can get a set of records put on microfilm, you can pore over it for years). This is probably a little different for non-medievalists, though. (I think it’s even more true for non-archeologist classicists – I always get the sense that the people I know who do Greek/Latin stuff all know all the sources there are to know!)

    And that being said, I suspect that some of the other things that come with seniority – heading research centers, leading national scholarly associations – have also cut into her purely archival time.

    (About gender vs. women’s history – I don’t think that the one *has* to be language and the other *has* to be behavior; I think you can do both either way, and would especially like to see the gender-as-behavior stuff. But I do think that it’s a rough-and-ready distinction that describes practice, in a very generalizing way.)

    And yes, historiann, I agree about the greater ease of access for Americanists! Of course, you people tend to have so many MORE sources to deal with, too… (well, in some fields, anyway. I couldn’t be a 20th century person to save my life!) But the difference in access raises the question for me, too – will Europeanists get shortchanged or will American Europeanists (Africanists/Asianists/Latin Americanists/Antipodeanists etc.) end up writing a different kind of history than American Americanists do?

  16. Historiann on 21 Jun 2008 at 7:21 am #

    I’ve seen all kinds of senior people (men and women) in my field in the archives–at least the ones who manage to produce books at an amazing rate! Isn’t that one of the pleasures of doing archival research? (I was always running into Mary Beth Norton when I was researching my book! And I’m sure MBN logs way more days in the archives than I do these days…)

    I too think that divide between gender/language and women/archival evidence is too strict, but I see what the commentor was getting at, although I think it holds more for modern history. (At least, I hope it’s not a strict divide! My book did a lot of study of languge, but much of my analysis was of unpublished documents that I had to dig out of archives, as well as some numbers-crunching.) I think it’s typical if you’re doing pre-1800 history in America (and perhaps pre-1700 history in Western Europe?) that you have to do archival work to uncover sufficient evidence–there just aren’t all that many newspapers, books, pamphlets, etc. to analyze, and so you go look for the letters, diaries, court records, etc. (I realize New Kid that you’re a medievalist, and so this probably seems like an embarassment of riches to you! I agree with you that 20th history blows my mind–I don’t think I could switch to having to rule OUT evidence, rather than desperately searching for evidence that I could rule IN. A different challenge alltogether!)

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