Archive for April, 2009

April 21st 2009
Driving “Miss Barbie?”

Posted under American history & childhood & Dolls & women's history

barbiemissbarbie4I treated you to Barbie’s Campus last month, courtesy of Found in Mom’s Basement (and thanks again to Erica at the good old days for the tip).  I returned there for inspiration last night, and found perhaps the strangest Barbie set I’ve ever seen (at right.  You can view an enlarged photo if you click here–”Miss Barbie” is right on top.)  What is up with this little number, also from the 1964 Sears catalog?  From the ad copy:

So lively. . . her knees bend, her eyes close

Miss Barbie with 3 Wigs, Lawn Swing and Planter, $4.89

Whose idea was it to sell the new bendable knees and blinking eyes Barbie by plopping her on lawn furniture and giving her a choice of 3 wigs?  Is this a scene that evokes youth, action, and vigor?  Are those her granddaughters she’s watching play tennis, dance, and ski, simultaneously?  (Those outfits are sold separately–don’t kid yourself.  “Miss Barbie” doesn’t swing that way.)  Why not a “Plastic Slipcovers Barbie,” who comes complete with bingo cards and canasta for her Midge, Ken, and Allan?  What’s up with the hat–is she really bald under there?  I’m at the stage of life where a lawn swing and 3 wigs look pretty good–or at least more useful than the ballerina outfit–so I think it’s cool that they made a crypo-geriatric Barbie back in 1964.  I’m just wondering how many girls would have wanted to play with this Barbie set back in the day?  (The wigs would have been fun, but even more fun would have been just letting her go bald, don’t you think?) Continue Reading »


April 20th 2009
Let’s play “What’s Wrong with This Headline?”

Posted under American history & childhood & Gender & unhappy endings

OK, kids–here’s today’s challenge:  “Couple, their 3 kids found dead in Maryland home.”

Who or what might have killed an entire family?  Was it carbon monoxide?  Botulism?  World War II ordinance discovered in the sandbox too late?  (I’m humming the Jeopardy theme while you click and read.)

Time’s up!

Continue Reading »


April 19th 2009
Facebook Manners and you!

Posted under fluff

Don’t be like Alice and Timmy, and don’t say I haven’t warned you (h/t The Daily Beast)! This video actually has some good advice for those of you who insist on using the “electric friendship generator” despite your Auntie Historiann’s warnings. A friend of mine in her 40s recently confided in me that she got way into Facebook last year, but then decided it was “like the guy you slept with Freshman year right away and then decided was just embarrassing so you spent the rest of your college years avoiding him.” She discovered just how boring most people are, and what shocking amounts of time they spend on Facebook to convey extremely tedious information.

After all: that’s what blogs are for!


April 19th 2009
Pope orders doctrinal investigation of nuns’ leadership organization

Posted under American history & European history & Gender & GLBTQ & O Canada & women's history

arrivalofursulines1928Here’s a story that could have been written pretty much at any point in Western history from the tenth or eleventh century on*:  According to the Toledo Blade, Toledo Bishop Leonard Blair’s investigation “will look at adherence to Catholic doctrine by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an organization based in Silver Springs, Md., with 1,500 nuns in leadership positions representing 95 percent of the nation’s 67,000 Catholic sisters.”  The inquiry will focus on three areas of concern:  “promoting the ordination of women, salvation through Christ alone, and ‘the problem of homosexuality.’”  Amazonianism!  Antinomianism!  Unnatural disobedience!  (What, no investigation of Holocaust denial among women religious?  Thanks to plugged-in, Toledo Blade-reading, Ursuline-educated reader “Mother of ALL” for the tip.)  By the way–S.N.A.P. (Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests) doesn’t like or trust Bishop Blair because of what they see as his “terrible track record on child sex abuse and cover-up.” 

The National Catholic Reporter story on which this article seems to be based says that this investigation appears to be related to another investigation of the apostolic women’s orders:  “The Visitation, which will collect and assimilate data and observations about religious life, will be limited to apostolic institutes, those actively engaged in service to Church and society. Cloistered, contemplative sisters, who have distinctly different lifestyles, are excluded from the study.”  (Emphasis mine.)  Continue Reading »


April 18th 2009
Guns, threats, space, and gender

Posted under Gender & jobs & local news & students

woman-gun1Inside Higher Ed featured a story yesterday about universities that allow students to bring their guns to campus if they have concealed-carry permits, and states like Texas and Missouri where oh-so-brave state legistlators are working hard to make sure that people can walk around packing heat on their state university campuses.  Guess whose very own Baa Ram U. is a model according to Second Amendment fundamentalists?  Yes, indeedy–this is why I asked last year where I could find a high-fashion Kevlar vest

This has been on my mind lately because of a disturbing incident that happened in a class taught by a colleague of mine in the College of Liberal Arts, in the main classroom building we all use.  She told me that mid-way through a midterm exam a few weeks ago, a masked man opened the door to her 123-capacity lecture hall and started screaming semi-coherently.  Continue Reading »


April 17th 2009
Just “Ask Amy”: you’re an idiot, pal.

Posted under Bodily modification & Gender & jobs & students & weirdness

Speaking of bodies that are marked categories, here’s an interesting letter to “Ask Amy” in the Denver Post this morning:

Dear Amy,

I am a student in a Ph.D. program.

I have a female professor who is pregnant. At first she was hiding it, but now she’s wearing maternity clothes, and it’s pretty obvious.

However, it’s really starting to frustrate me that no one will talk about the fact that she’s pregnant except behind her back — she is the white elephant in the room.

I want to congratulate her and ask her when she’s due, but I don’t want to be the first one to acknowledge it. Others estimate that she’s about six months along.

Any ideas? — Want to Say Congrats

Here’s Amy’s extremely sensible reply:  Continue Reading »


April 17th 2009
Try this on Jeopardy, baby

Posted under fluff & Gender

cowgirlglanceTen Top Trivia Tips about Historiann!

  1. Native Americans never actually ate Historiann; killing such a timid prey was thought to indicate laziness!
  2. Historiann can usually be found in nests built in the webs of large spiders.
  3. The only Englishman to become Historiann was Nicholas Breakspear, who was Historiann from 1154 to 1159.
  4. When provoked, Historiann will swivel the tip of her abdomen and shoot a jet of boiling chemicals at her attacker.
  5. Birds do not sleep in Historiann, though they may rest in her from time to time!
  6. A cluster of bananas is called a hand and consists of 10 to 20 bananas, which are individually known as Historiann.
  7. It is impossible to fold Historiann more than seven times.
  8. It takes 8 minutes for light to travel from the Sun’s surface to Historiann.
  9. Historiann can turn her stomach inside out.
  10. If you lie on your back with your legs stretched it is impossible to sink in Historiann.

Via SquadratomagicoHere’s the place where you find out about yourself (or anyone else)–let me know in the comments what you discover!  How, I wonder, can anyone who, “when provoked. . . will swivel the tip of her abdomen and shoot a jet of boiling chemicals at her attacker,” be deemed “timid prey?”  Oh well, like all women (except when I was Nicholas Breakspear), I’m accustomed to accusations of embodying all kinds of mutually contradictory traits:  “naturally” weak and helpless, yet I can ruin a warrior and sap his strength if he eats from my dishes when I’m menstruating; a man-crazed lesbian; passionless yet I can’t control my sexual desires.  You get the picture.  All just a day’s work as a marked category, friends!

Just remember:  it is in fact impossible to fold Historiann more than seven times.  (I think my actual limit is closer to three.)  I hope you get your weekends off to a great start–here in NoCo, we’re battening down for another big snowstorm!  But, that’s life on the high plains desert at  5,000 feet for you.  (I recall a graduation weekend/Mother’s Day weekend snowstorm here in Potterville in the early 2000s, and we regularly see snow flurries on May 1 for some reason.)  Wish me happy shoveling!


April 16th 2009
Ed(itor) Linenthal dishes on the details of the Journal of American History

Posted under American history & book reviews & jobs & local news & publication

linenthalEdward Linenthal, the editor of the Journal of American History and Professor of History at Indiana University, is visiting Potterville, Colorado this week as the Hewit Distinguished Professor of History this year at the University of Northern Colorado.  Yesterday he gave an informal talk to the History faculty there over lunch on the subject of “How to Get Published in the Journal of American History.”  He also provided a lively and in-depth glimpse of how the journal works and some of his priorities as editor.  I caged an invite from my pals at UNC, and found Linenthal so engaging and down-to-earth that I asked him if I could publish my notes on his comments, and he said yes.  So, here you go:

  • The numbers:  Linenthal said that they receive 215 submissions a year, and that of those they can publish twenty.  (For those of you who took remedial math like me, that’s an acceptance rate of about 9.3%–ouch!)  Everything is read by a pair of Associate Editors, and of those 215 submissions, perhaps 35-40% are rejected in-house without review.  (When asked which articles were rejected in-house, Linenthal said that it was only those that were very narrowly cast, “horrendously written,” and/or those that don’t fit the mission of the JAH at all.)   
  • The processThe 60-65% of articles that are sent out to readers are each sent out to four readers, which Linenthal admits can lead to a “cacophony” of opinions that are difficult to sort through.  If you’ve got an article under review at this journal, don’t hang out by your e-mail in-box drumming your fingers:  Linenthal says that he’ll “always go for thoroughness over speed,” every time, but says that their average in responding to authors is four months after submission.  It’s a double-blind review process, and Linenthal says that they absolutely don’t play favorites.  “We’ve pissed off any number of senior scholars” by rejecting their work, “but I say, if you’re at that level and you can’t deal with that kind of criticism–tough!  Get over it.”  Continue Reading »


April 15th 2009
Wednesday round-up: writin’ along the Colorado Trail

Posted under jobs & publication & women's history

cowgirlbroncobestedWhile I’m busy cranking out an overdue paper, I’ll leave you with a few tasty morsels I’ve been saving up to share with you on the subject of academic publishing.  Remember:  when you get that rejection letter in the mail (and you will–we all do!), the best thing to do is to read it quickly, put it away for a week or two, then take what’s useful for your revisions and send it back on out to another journal or press.  If you’re thrown by a horse, the best revenge is to get back in the saddle again.  So–giddyap!

  • Undine asks, “Are senior scholars abandoning journal publication?”  Ze cites an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education that said, “[s]enior scholars, the A-list of academic publishing, seem to submit fewer unsolicited manuscripts to traditional humanities journals than they used to. ‘The journal has become, with very few exceptions, the place where junior and mid-level scholars are placing their work,’ according to Bonnie Wheeler, president of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. . . .”  I don’t think it’s so much the rise of the edited essay collection as it is the fact that senior scholars get invited to submit manuscripts all of the time, and if a journal asks you to submit a manuscript for a special issue, most people figure that that’s the path of least resistance.  (Mel, a commenter at Undine’s place, makes this point as well.)
  • Penn State University Press Associate Director and Editor-in-Chief Patrick H. Alexander has a thing or two to tell us about reviewing book manuscripts.  I’m so glad that Inside Higher Ed published this–it’s good to hear from an editor on this, instead of just from scholars either complaining  1) that kids these days don’t know what scholarship is, let alone how to produce it, or 2) about the savage flaying their latest book or article manuscript received by a clearly unscrupulous and sadistic “peer” reviewer.  Continue Reading »

    April 14th 2009
    Lucky Louie wins a fellowship but wants more, oh so much more

    Posted under happy endings & jobs

    moneyhandFrom the mailbag at HQ:

    Dear Historiann,

    I am a soon-to-be unemployed recent Ph.D. who was offered a prestigious postdoctoral teaching fellowship today. Hooray! I’m so excited, but I have a few job applications still pending for some other tasty opportunities. This prompts a job search question that I thought your readership might be able to help me with. I make $30,000 a year as a lecturer. The fellowship has a set salary just a shade lower than what I make now, but the town I would be moving to is a little more expensive. There are two other positions out there that I am extremely keen on. For one of them, an interdisciplinary studies fellowship, I am simply another applicant, as far as I know; I had a phone interview for the other last week, a great non-tenure track position that would give me a big pay hike and a reduced course load of only undergrad seminar courses at a great state university. I think that’s the one that I want. I have two weeks to accept the current offer. How do I approach these schools to tell/ask/suggest to them to hurry the hell up?

    Just sign me “Lucky Louie.”

    Congratulations, Louie!  To answer your question succinctly, you should e-mail the chairs of the two active searches to inform them of your good news and to ask where they are in the process.  This happens all of the time–and indeed, I’m sure they would prefer to get this information sooner rather than later if you’re at all a contender.  They will understand that this is a polite way of asking them to tell you where you stand in their searches, and what their advice is on the wisdom of accepting your fellowship offer. Continue Reading »


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