Archive for March, 2010

March 30th 2010
In case you can’t tell, I’m being sarcastic.

Posted under American history & Gender & wankers & women's history

Now, why would a guy as incredibly handsome, smart, and successful as David Brooks feel the need to churn out another concern-trolling column urging women to choose marriage over career success?  It’s clear that this rugged specimen of American manhood should have nothing whatsoever to worry about in terms of attracting and holding onto a beautiful, successful, ambitious woman like (for example) the Academy Award-winning actress Sandra Bullock!  The author of cutting-edge social analyses such as Bobos in Paradise (2000) is a clearly towering intellect–it’s on all of my syllabi, as I’m sure it is on all of yours, too.  And, although of course I can’t speak from personal experience, Continue Reading »


March 30th 2010
Tuesday round-up: Girls Talk edition, yee-haw!

Posted under American history & art & bad language & childhood & European history & fluff & Gender & GLBTQ & jobs & women's history

As March ends, with its proverbial lionish and lambish ways, I bring you this round-up in which girls talk about things you need to think about:

  • Notorious Ph.D., Girl Scholar, is back with Part III of her series, “A Day in the Archives.”  (Parts I and II are here.)  In this installment, she offers a wonderful, detailed primer about how to photograph documents digitally in an archive.  (She’s down on transcription, because “it takes time, and you can’t check your work later. And since a lot of North American researchers only have 1-3 months at a time in the archives, we generally go for option 2, which is to get a copy of the document.”)  I’ll put in a word for transcription, however:  it means you do your research right then and there in the archive.  (I work in archives that don’t permit the photocopying of manuscripts.)  Everyone has to make hir own decisions about gathering evidence and ideas–as Notorious notes, it also depends on the condition of your documents and the amount of time you have.  But for me, the best part of archival research is reading a document, taking notes on it, and daydreaming about all of the fabulous ways I can use it in my many sure-to-be prizewinning future publications. 
  • Inspired by Notorious’s example, Clio’s Disciple has posted a nice companion piece called “Days in the Little Archives,” which is a handy guide to navigating smaller provincial archives like those at the county or municipal level; parish, diocesan or archdiocesan archives; or smaller historical societies and libraries.  (I’m not sure what the equivalent smaller archives would be called outside of the U.S. or Canada–check out Clio’s Disciple’s post and please enlighten me in the comments below.)
  • Lesboprof wishes she would have played the lion instead of the lamb in “I coulda been a contender!”  Instead of a bum, which is what she is.  I’ll let her explain:  Continue Reading »


March 29th 2010
Super-cute Monday edition: Koko gets a kitty, Historiann told STFU by a 6-year old

Posted under childhood & fluff & happy endings & weirdness

Ever heard the expression “cute as a pailful of kittens?”  They’ve got nuthin’ on Koko, the famous linguistically-enabled gorilla, snuggling up with a new kitten she’s considering for adoption:

In memory of All Ball, Koko’s first kitten.

Yesterday, I was told by a 6-year old that “we need more S.T.F.U.!”  Continue Reading »


March 28th 2010
Mid-career slumps

Posted under jobs

Just connect!

From the mailbag–a letter from Historiann, to Historiann’s readers. 

Dear friends,

Mid-career slumps:  I’m afraid I haz one.  What do I do about it?

Outwardly, I’m not slumping.  My definition of “slump” has more to do with how I feel about my career now than any major failures or setbacks.  I applied for two grants this year, and didn’t win either of them.  (If at first you don’t succeed, reapply, reapply again, right?)  I had been especially hopeful about the one grant, to which I had been specifically invited to reapply.  (Last year, I was the first runner up.)  But, I didn’t even make the wait list apparently–I was rejected even faster this year!  I’m enjoying my teaching this semester.  I have a major research project that I’m working on, as well as a few side projects that will afford me opportunities for publishing bits and bobs along the way to completing the book manuscript.  I have no doubt that I’ll write this book–I’m enjoying it a great deal, and all of the intellectual detours that it’s taken me on. 

But, this is the strategy I followed for the first book.  It worked, but something tells me that I should be doing something different.  Specifically, I wonder if I should be challenging myself more.  Continue Reading »


March 27th 2010
Scenes from “pro-life” America

Posted under American history & Gender & race & the body & unhappy endings & wankers & women's history

Via TalkLeft, the Ninth Circut Court of Appeals has ruled that “[t]hree Seattle police officers were justified when they used a stun gun on a pregnant mother who refused to sign a traffic ticket.”  Whut?  What about the adorable innocent baby fetuses?  I guess they don’t count when it’s a mere woman who’s trying to protect her own fetus:

Malaika Brooks was driving her son to Seattle’s African American Academy in 2004 when she was stopped for doing 32 mph in a school zone. She insisted it was the car in front of her that was speeding, and refused to sign the ticket because she thought she’d be admitting guilt.Rather than give her the ticket and let her go on her way, the officers decided to arrest her. One reached in, turned off her car and dropped the keys on the floor. Brooks stiffened her arms against the steering wheel and told the officers she was pregnant, but refused to get out, even after they threatened to stun her.

The officers – Sgt. Steven Daman, Officer Juan Ornelas and Officer Donald Jones – then stunned her three times, in the thigh, shoulder and neck, and hauled her out of the car, laying her face-down in the street.

Here’s what the 2-1 majority of the so-called “loony left-wing” Ninth Circut Court ruled:

Judges Cynthia Holcomb Hall and Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain held that the officers were justified in making an arrest because Brooks was obstructing them and resisting arrest.

The use of force was also justified because of the threat Brooks posed, Hall wrote: “It seems clear that Brooks was not going to be able to harm anyone with her car at a moment’s notice. Nonetheless, some threat she might retrieve the keys and drive off erratically remained, particularly given her refusal to leave the car and her state of agitation.” Continue Reading »


March 26th 2010
How doth the little crocodile improve his shining tail?

Posted under American history & European history & jobs

While I’m a busy bee today, improving each shining hour, I’ll leave you with an interesting series of posts by Notorious Girl, Ph.D., who took some time out from her work in Exotic Research City to write a little primer on A Day in the Archives, Part I and Part II.  These might be especially useful for graduate students considering with trepidation their first trip to the archives for seminar paper or dissertation research.  Notorious reports that she’s planning a Part III, after a little fun break with a pal from back home.  Dance at Prone to Laughter posted a response with a little mystery document from her collection–click on the photo to enlarge, and don’t read the comments until after you’ve puzzled through it! 

As you all know, Historiann insists on archival research.  Don’t let me catch any of you submitting dissertation chapters that don’t include archival work, friends!  And an archivist named Jacob who blogs at Jacobpedia has already jumped into the old Sister Agnes thread–his blog is worth checking out.


March 25th 2010
Small college $h!tstorms in the internet age

Posted under GLBTQ & students & unhappy endings & women's history

Wellesley College is apparently in a malestrom (pun intended) over the fact that some non-Wellesley students were chosen to represent Wellesley in the’s Mr. Campus Freshman 2013 competition.  (Wellesley is of course a women’s college–one of the four holdouts of the original “Seven Sisters” in fact, along  with Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Bryn Mawr.)  It looks to me like a first-year student, who was not yet aware of how charged these issues about gender and sexuality can be at women’s colleges, probably innocently suggested using people’s boyfriends instead of presenting women or trans Wellesley students.  Yikes.  I can absolutely understand why students are angry about this–but what an introduction to campus politics for this young student.  Like she fell through the ice on Lake Waban.

Having attended one of these colleges before the advent of the world wide timewasting non peer-reviewed web, and having witnessed some major campus tsuris in my undergraduate years, I can only imagine how much worse these periodic blowups are now that they’re plastered all over the internets.  On these campuses, where everyone identifies as a feminist and women’s issues are at the center rather than the margins of student life, questions of gender and sexuality can be dynamite.  Continue Reading »


March 24th 2010
Fat is the new crack

Posted under American history & childhood & class & Gender & race & the body & women's history

"a lumpish farmer's boy, fat, silly, and lazy."

In “Kindergarteners:  YOU’RE DOOMED!!!!” over at Shakesville, Elle writes about a story in the New York Times that raises fat panic to a whole new level.  The Times story claims that “more and more evidence points to pivotal events very early in life — during the toddler years, infancy and even before birth, in the wombthat can set young children on an obesity trajectory that is hard to alter by the time they’re in kindergarten. The evidence is not ironclad, but it suggests that prevention efforts should start very early.”  As Elle observes, “there is always room to blame mamas!”

Indeed, the Times story suggests that uterus and placenta play a malevolent role in fetal development!  (Who knew?)  Saith the Times:  “Many doctors are concerned about women being obese and unhealthy before pregnancy because, as they point out, the womb is the baby’s first environment. . . . The intrauterine environment of a woman with diabetes overnourishes the fetus,” said the study’s author, Dana Dabelea, an epidemiologist at the Colorado School of Public Health. And that, she added, may “reset the offspring’s satiety set point, and make them predisposed to eat more.”  ZOMG!!!111!!!  That might happen, right?  (Like Wayne from Wayne’s World used to say:  “and monkeys might fly out of my butt!”  My bet is that a child’s environment over the course of years–and not just hir mother’s uterus for 8 or 9 months–is more determinative of hir overall health.  But blaming mothers is easy and cheap, whereas ensuring fresh food, access to health care, and clean, green open spaces for every child to play in is expensive!)  Elle points to the historically racial and class dimensions of this rhetoric that suggests that fat mothers are bad mothers:

Given the blame-the-fat-mother meme, we can expect the continued condemnation of poor mothers and black mothers, who are more likely to be fat than mothers in other socio-economic and racial groups. Also, poor mothers might be eligible for programs like Food Stamps and WIC (which will provide infant formula), putting them in a position in which many people feel that their food choices should be scrutinized and judged. 

Obviously, this is just what we needed: another way to assess how horribly mothers fail. Continue Reading »


March 23rd 2010
Women in science: Why So Few?

Posted under childhood & Gender & jobs & students & women's history

Many of you probably saw the New York Times article yesterday on the report issued by the American Association of University Women called “Why So Few?  Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.”  (See also Inside Higher Ed’s report, which goes into a bit more detail.)  It’s a comprehensive review of the literature on sex and STEM fields, ranging from elementary school through grad school experiences and into the STEM workplace.  I’ve skimmed the 134-page report–readers here will probably be most interested in the chapters on stereotype threat and achievement in STEM fields (chapter 3), the college student experience (chapter 6), university and college faculty (chapter 7), and workplace bias (chapter 9). 

Those of you who work with young children–either as educators or as parents, or both–will want to pay close attention to the advice the AAUW offers in chapter 2 regarding beliefs about intelligence.  The report describes the contrast between a “Fixed Mind-Set” (the belief that intelligence is essentially static) and the “Growth Mind-Set” (the belief that intelligence can be developed).  Children with the “Growth Mind-Set” embrace challenges rather than run from them and are persistent, they see effort as critical to intellectual mastery, and they learn from critical feedback–all skills that they’ll need if they’re going to achieve in any field, STEM or non-STEM.

I was particularly interested in “Why So Few”‘s discussion of workplace bias in chapter 9.  It argues that both competence and likability are critical to workplace advancement (as measured by promotions, salary increases, and the like.)  Continue Reading »


March 22nd 2010
History was made, and You Are There!

Posted under American history & Gender & the body & women's history

It's HISTORY, b!tchez!

Does anyone else remember seeing those old Walter Cronkite TV shows that showed him reporting on historical events as though he were covering it live on TV called “You Are There?”  (I really dug those.  Go figure!)  Well, in the spirit of Uncle Walter–in the great “Health” “Care” “Reform” passage of 2009-2010, remember:  You Are There!  With all of this history falling down around us, we need some Real Historians to help us assemble the potsherds and read the hieroglyphs:

  • Sean Wilentz says Nancy Pelosi’s marshalling of House votes (and Barack Obama’s support for “his own bill”) makes her the most effective Speaker of the House since Henry Clay.  In fact, she’s the only person who’s brought stuff in for a landing since this Congress began last year.  Hey, if someone could find a rhyme for a campaign song that went, “Rise up, rise up, the country’s risin’/Henry Clay and Frelinghuysen!” we can probably find a great campaign song lyrics that rhyme Pelosi with. . . something, right?
  • Michael Kazin says that health care reform’s political triumph, like all liberal triumphs in recent U.S. history, will be brief, but its changes will likely be lasting.  Ted Widmer says that Obama’s victory yesterday was a victory of hope over fear, and compares the passage of health care reform to the 1993 OBRA that passed by one vote.  (He doesn’t remind us that it spelled doom for the Democratic Congress the following year.  Widmer is a former Clinton speechwriter.) 
  • Apparently, the only historians with opinions worth publishing are menContinue Reading »


Next »