Archive for March, 2009

March 31st 2009
OAH wrap-up, Part II: Gender and Sexuality in Early American History

Posted under American history & conferences & Gender & GLBTQ & Intersectionality & race & women's history

oahorbust2Here are some more highlights from Saturday, March 28 at the Organization of American Historians’ annual meeting in Seattle.  (In case you missed it, Part I of my wrap-up is here.)  As I was pulling myself together for my 8:30 a.m. session, I ran into Tenured Radical, who confessed that she was feeling a mite queasy.  (Was she ever!  Poor thing.)  But, the show must go on, and I was looking forward to hearing Mary P. Ryan’s comments at the women’s lunch at noon.  My next post will cover Ryan’s comments at lunch–please allow me to indulge in some in-depth reporting on the “State of the Field” roundtable I was on, as I think some of the issues raised there may be of interest to many of you, because we’ve chewed over some of these questions here before.

State of the Field:  Gender and Sexuality in Early American History featured Carol Karlsen, Jennifer Spear, Todd Romero, Historiann, and Susan Juster serving as chair and moderator.  Kirsten Fischer organized this panel, and it was co-sponsored by the Steven J.  Schochet Endowment for GLBT Studies and Campus Life, although she was unable to be with us because she is on leave this year and out of the country.

  • Karlsen offered what she called “the long view” of these topics and said there wasn’t much historiography to speak of until the mid-1990s, but that what has appeared since then has revolutionized our view of early American history with insights about the intersectionality of race and gender, the idea that urban environments are spaces for negotiation, the importance of masculinity as well as examining women’s gender roles, and the notion that the sexual conquest of women of color was central to the colonization of the Americas.  Continue Reading »


March 30th 2009
Women’s History Month Book Club: Bennett talks back at Notorious, Ph.D.

Posted under book reviews & European history & Gender & women's history

bennetthistorymatters4Head on over to Notorious, Ph.D., Girl Scholar today to read Judith Bennett’s comments about our discussion of her book this month.  She really disagrees with my generational analysis, claiming that’s not what she meant at all, and she wants us to talk more about her concept of “patriarchal equilibrium,” which she sees as the fundamental contribution of the book. Continue Reading »

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March 29th 2009
OAH wrap-up, part I: Borderlands, Oysters, Strangers, and–who invited Norovirus?

Posted under American history & class & conferences & fluff & Gender & Intersectionality & unhappy endings & women's history


(See Part II of the wrap-up here.)

Historiann coming at you again from the High Plains Desert.  I had planned to update the blog more frequently but was unable to do so, for reasons which will become apparent in the following wrap-up.  It was a (mostly) great trip and all of the panels I saw were really interesting and useful.  Here are some of the highlights (and a dramatic lowlight!):

  • Thursday morning’s “State of the Field:  Borderlands History in Early America,” featuring Juliana Barr, Jane Merritt, and Alan Taylor, with Susan Sleeper-Smith serving as chair.  Merritt provided a detailed overview of post-Turnerian borderlands history, Barr’s comments focused on the problematic fact that “borders” still usually means fictitious borders on maps drawn in Paris, Madrid, and London instead of equally contested Native American geographies, and Taylor sounded the alarm that borderlands might become the next “Atlantic  World”–a concept that loses its focus or explanatory power because everyone claims to be doing it.  Sleeper-Smith’s summary comments noted the power of studies on gender and sexuality to illuminate connections between geographically and culturally different borderlands spaces, and she also confided to Historiann after the panel re: Taylor’s concern that “borderlands” is on its way to being the next “Atlantic World”:   “It’s already happened.”  Given that the theme of the conference was “History Without Boundaries,” that seems very likely!
  • A longshoreman’s lunch of beer and oysters with Tenured Radical Thursday afternoon, at a tavern with an excellent view of Puget Sound and the Olympic Range. 
  • An private insider’s tour of Seattle fashion shopping with Stephanie M. H. Camp, late of the University of Washington and now at Rice University.   She got a fab DvF wrap dress, and I got a fun spring/summer caftan-style dress and a spring raincoat.  (We don’t see many raincoats for sale around these arid parts!) Continue Reading »


March 26th 2009
OAH or Bust!

Posted under American history & conferences

oahorbustHi all–Historiann here, coming at you from weakly sunny downtown Seattle, because the Organization of American Historians’ Annual Conference starts in a few hours.  Pull up a chair and have a cup of coffee!  Only, I won’t be here long to pour–I’ve got meetings, meet-ups, and fun planned all week, so posting will probably be light since I  have the opportunity to meet and talk to historians in Real Life and not on-blog.  I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing here, since I feel less like an American historian every day–and this is very much a modern (and even recent) U.S. History conference.  It seems like the OAH is getting with the transnational program, since the theme this year is “History Without Boundaries.”  Don’t fence me in, babies!

As for Seattle:  I visited a few times in the mid- to late-90s, back when it was the cool place to be, and had an epic hiking and camping trip on the Olympic Peninsula back in the day.  But–Kurt Cobain’s been dead for nearly fifteen years now.  Oh well–whatever.  Nevermind.


March 25th 2009
Smart Woman, Foolish Interview: Associate Prof. Alice at Blunderland U.

Posted under jobs & unhappy endings

A very merry un-interviewday to you!

A very merry un-interviewday to you!

In the spirit of letting it all hang out from the point of view of the academic job interviewee, Associate Professor Alice survived her interview at Blunderland University–just barely.  Regrets?  She’s got a few:

I just had to write you in solidarity with Freddie from Ft. Lauderdale.  I don’t care what you call me–just don’t call me unprepared for a job interview, unlike the department that interviewed me for a senior appointment in January.  Since I’m complaining to you–spoiler alert!–you probably have figured out that I didn’t get the job.

The whole search was marred from start to finish by the search chair’s truly breathtaking a$$hattery.  Either he’s suffering from an undiagnosed medical condition, or he deliberately sabotaged the search–I can’t decide which scenario is more plausible.  Maybe your readers can help.  From the first day he called me on the phone, he was like the stereotype of an abusive boyfriend:  he sounded reasonably personable and interested in my application, but then started immediately demanding a commitment:  how serious are you about this job?  Because we’re very serious about you.  Are you in a position to relocate? Continue Reading »


March 24th 2009
Hells to the yeah! Uh, we mean “Nope:” Freddie from Ft. Lauderdale can’t hit the “Nope” button fast enough

Posted under jobs & unhappy endings

Fast Freddie hits the "Nope" button

Fast Freddie hits the "Nope" button

As you regular readers know, we get letters.  As an almost-Ph.D. interviewing this year for the first time (not in History, nor any of the humanities), Freddie from Ft. Lauderdale has asked for equal time  here at to balance out those posts a few months ago that mocked job candidates (like this one, this one, oh, and that one, too.)  Freddie has some (unfortunately) hard-won advice for hiring departments and search committees who may want to hire some new blood eventually.   So, take it away, Freddie!

I recently went on a campus interview that left me with a sour feeling toward the search committee in particular and the university in general.  It only took a couple of hours for me to determine that there was no way I would accept a job offer from the department that interviewed me:  the entire visit felt like a bad blind date.  I tried to smile and to put my best foot forward, but I knew that if she/he went in for a kiss, I would deflect it by turning my head and redirecting it into a completely fake hug.  (You know, the kind with lots of insincere back-patting.)  Since you seem to be big on throwing around advice to job candidates over here, I decided to put together a list of “dos and don’ts” for hiring departments and search committees in case they may actually want to hire someone someday:

  1. When you meet a candidate at the airport and she/he is carrying a briefcase, carry-on bag, and jacket, do not hand out a revised itinerary to read through while walking to the car. (Tips for toads: perhaps revising the itinerary the day of the visit should be avoided altogether? Just sayin’.)
  2. Do not stop by Taco Bell on the way to campus (I guess that was “lunch” on the slapped-together “itinerary”) and proceed to ask your candidate about her/his plan for the next five years while slurping up your Mountain Dew and downing your bean burrito. Continue Reading »


March 23rd 2009
Women’s History Month Book Club: Part the Fourth at Blogenspiel

Posted under book reviews & European history & Gender & women's history

bennetthistorymatters3It’s another Monday in March:  are you ready to rumble?  Head on over to Blogenspiel where Another Damned Medievalist hosts this week’s discussion of Judith Bennett’s History Matters:  Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism.  As an early medieval Europeanist, ADM wonders if there is a place and time where an emphasis on the continuity of women’s lives is not so useful.  She writes, “[p]atriarchal equalibrium feels like it exists. It looks like it exists. It explains so damned much. But I think Bennett shows enough evidence that it’s an equalibrium made up of different factors in different times and places that it’s … hard to get a grip on.”  Click here to read the rest!

In case you missed all of the excitement so far, you can see part I here, part II here, and part III here.  Next week, we’ll all head back to Notorious Ph.D., Girl Scholar for a fifth post by Judith Bennett herself! 

Remember, folks:  keep it clean and above all on topic!  See you over at Blogenspiel.

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March 23rd 2009

Posted under publication & technoskepticism

The University of Michigan Press is going all-digital, baby.  Does this make you more or less likely to seek out UMP as a publisher?  I get the economic argument–but what kind of history authors in particular is this move going to attract?  Given how status-conscious publishers are–and how relatively sought-after historians are after they’ve published a book already–I just don’t see too many second- or third-time authors agreeing to have their books published digitally.

Speaking as a reader–I spend enough time in front of glowing screens as it is.  I’ve consulted some on-line books close to my own research, but I can’t say that I’ve “read” them.  And, having a shelf of “books” printed out from the internets–that just sounds messy and unappealing.


March 21st 2009
Weekend Funnies

Posted under American history & fluff & technoskepticism

totusThis is hillarious:  Barack Obama’s Teleprompter has a blog, and you’d better believe that TOTUS has a lot to say (via Corrente.)  For example, TOTUS answers readers’ questions:

Teleprompter, have you ever thought about helping Secretary Geithner, or do you work for just one person?

No, I am a one-man machine. And while I’m beginning to have some self-doubt about the way the Big O and I are working, do you really think I could make a lick of difference with Timmah? What Tim Terrific (the Big Guy’s nickname for him) needs is a time machine with “way back” capabilities, which would allow the rest of us to direct him on career paths that we now realize he has the talents for, like, teaching macramé at a small Midwestern women’s college or perhaps working as a salesman at a lemonade stand managed by a seven-year-old.

In other words, no piece of equipment in existence today could help this man.

And, TOTUS says that ” Vice President Biden is the smartest person in the Administration. Seriously.”

What of the unfortunate off-the-cuff remark about the Special Olympics on The Tonight Show the other night? Continue Reading »


March 20th 2009
A l’Agrandissement du Temps Perdu*

Posted under Bodily modification & Gender & technoskepticism & the body & women's history

caryatid*Or, On the Enlargement of Things Lost.

In an essay about breast reconstruction after a double mastectomy, “Replacing Things Lost,” Amy DePaul offers a fascinating glimpse into the technology of breast reconstruction and the cultural expectations that go with it.  She writes that in her first meeting with the plastic surgeon, he asked her, “What is your current bra and cup size, and what would you like to move up to?” as though it were self-evident that she would want to emerge Phoenix-like from a mastectomy with larger breasts:

No, I thought. No, he didn’t just imply that I am an obvious candidate for breast augmentation, though some might argue that I was. I looked at my doctor and then my husband, both of whom studiously avoided eye contact with me. . . .

I finally managed to stammer a response to the bra inquiry (“It’s 34, um, A”) and said that no, I’d pass on the augmentation. My answer seemed to surprise my doctor (“Oh” was all he could say at first), and then he mentioned that I might want to mull this matter some more and perhaps confer with my husband on the decision. But my mind was pretty much made up that day in the office. The inescapable fact is that I resist any attempts by others to “improve” me. My husband, for the record, never tried to talk me into augmenting. He is a very intelligent man. Continue Reading »


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