Archive for April, 2010

April 30th 2010
Oh little playmate, come out and play with me . . .

Posted under fluff & jobs

And bring your dollies three, climb up my apple tree

Slide down my rain barrel, into my cellar door

And we’ll be jolly friends, forever more!  Continue Reading »

41 Comments »

April 29th 2010
Linda Gordon on Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits

Posted under American history & art & book reviews & Gender & jobs & the body & women's history

Linda Gordon was interviewed yesterday on NPR’s Morning Edition about her new book, Dorothea Lange:  A Life Beyond Limits.  Many of you are probably familiar with Gordon’s career–NYU historian and a winner of muliple prestigious historical prizesfor her books going back nearly 35 years–all the more impressive because her work is unabashedly feminist.  Her new work on Lange sounds fascinating–the linked interview gives an overview of Lange, a San Francisco portrait photographer whose work for the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression gave her photos a national audience.  Gordon’s work may also be of interest to historians of disability–Lange had a withered foot that was the result of a bout with polio at age 7, and Gordon mentions it more than once during the interview.  (Lange even made her foot the subject of a striking “self-portrait.”)

Although I don’t write modern U.S. history, that’s the field I end up reading in for fun more than any other, especially biographies of women.  It’s seems like it would be so easy and relaxing to write histories and biographies of women who were literate and wrote stuff down!  Continue Reading »

22 Comments »

April 28th 2010
What is the sound of one hand slapping my forhead?

Posted under jobs & publication & students & unhappy endings

Here’s your Koan for the day:  What if Kevin Carman, Dean of the College of Basic Sciences at Louisiana State University, were made Provost of Brown University, where the current Provost is troubled by the fact that 70% of all tenure candidates win tenure and promotion at Brown and wants to lower it?  (You’ll recall that Dean Carman is the guy who yanked a proffie out of her own course because of a high rate of student failure in her intro class.)  Would he be concerned that 30% of Brown Assistant Professors are “failing?”  Would this create a wormhole of dubious conflicting administrative initiatives?

I like this comment from Dore Levy, a professor of East Asian studies who opposes the Brown initiative to deny tenure to more Assistant Professors.  She explains why many faculty are with her:

They say that Brown is trying to provide them with the sort of research resources that are on the high end of what one could find at a liberal arts college, but then judge them by the standards of a research university. “You want us to be like Harvard? Then give us the Widener Library,” she said.

Levy, whose scholarship is on classical Chinese, said that she has spent her Brown career doing research at the libraries at Yale and Princeton Universities, which are far superior in relevant holdings than Brown’s collections. Brown can’t have it both ways, with resources not matching expectations, she said.

Sing it, sister!  Anyone who has ever visited Brown knows that it prides itself on being the Ivy with the research chops and also the character of a tony SLAC.  Continue Reading »

27 Comments »

April 27th 2010
Is motherhood authorizing?

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

How’s this for a brilliant “feminist” argument:  Peter Beinart urges President Obama to “Put a Mom on the Court!” 

And that’s why it’s important not just to have lots of women in positions of political power, but to have lots of women with kids. It’s important because otherwise, the message you’re sending young women is that they can achieve professionally, or they can have a family, but they can’t do both. And without quite realizing it, that is the message our government has been sending. According to the Census Bureau, 80 percent of American women over the age of 40 have children. But look at the women who have held Cabinet posts in the last three presidential administrations. Only two of the Clinton administration’s five female Cabinet secretaries had kids. (Attorney General Janet Reno got her job only after two women with children, Zoë Baird and Kimba Wood, were dinged for hiring illegal immigrants as nannies). In the Bush administration, the figure was two of seven. In the Obama administration, so far, it is two of four. And if Obama chooses Elena Kagan for the High Court, the figure there will be one of three.

What–you didn’t realize that having all but one non-parent on the U.S. Supreme Court now was disadvantaging women?  Yeah:  that’s why we get teh suckity-suck from the SCOTUS these days:  The Ledbetter (2007) and Gonzales (2007) decisions were all due to the fact that there aren’t enough moms on the Supreme Court. Continue Reading »

28 Comments »

April 26th 2010
I got nuthin’.

Posted under jobs & unhappy endings

This is an artist’s rendition of my skull right now.  I’m sorry, but I really have nothing of interest to say.  Truly.  I am beyond even wishes and desires now.

Except maybe this:  our semesters are about two weeks too long.  At this point, everyone is faking it, and they’re not even doing an especially good job of it.  How on Earth did I manage to earn a B.A. with only eight meager 12- or 13-week semesters?  Like that old commercial for Tootsie Pops used to say:  The world may never know.

21 Comments »

April 25th 2010
Susan Gubar and the FUBAR American uni: or, the mad bitch in the attic tells all

Posted under jobs & students & women's history

Good morning, friends.  I got nuthin’ today but a burning desire for a morning run and then a stack of essays and rough drafts of research papers to plow through, so you’re on your own.  May I suggest that you go read Roxie’s World today, where co-blogger Moose has a wonderful valentine called “To Her With Love” to Indiana University English Professor and feminist hero Susan Gubar, and a brilliant meditation on the FUBAR American public university?  (Roxie is of course the author of the “Excellence without Money” series inaugurated in 2008–don’t miss this latest installment!)

Here’s a little flava:

This is partly a story about luck and good timing, but it is also a story about the structural conditions of American public higher education, conditions that have changed significantly since my undergraduate days. I stumbled into Gubar’s class because I needed to pick up a senior seminar after deciding to add English as a second major at the end of my junior year. A friend recommended the course because she’d heard the co-author of a recently published book called The Madwoman in the Attic was a pretty good teacher. The seminar, with the rather dry-sounding title of “Feminist Expository Prose,” didn’t necessarily lead one to expect life-altering encounters with radical texts and ideas. I had never even heard of Mary Wollstonecraft, and Three Guineas, the Virginia Woolf text on the syllabus, was the first Woolf I would ever read. I had never heard of Charlotte Perkins Gilman either, but her Women and Economics rocked my young world, while Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s autobiography Eighty Years and More so fascinated me that I hopped in my car over Thanksgiving break to go read the author’s letters in a library 700 miles away. It was the excitement of that first research trip that propelled me into Susan’s office to announce that I had found my vocation. Continue Reading »

7 Comments »

April 24th 2010
Professional presentations: can you recycle?

Posted under jobs

Hot off the presses!

Dr. Crazy is freaking the frack out because she needs to write a paper for a conference in June, and somehow finish the semester, pack up her apartment (and kitty cats), and move into her new house all by herself.  All of this must happen in the next month or so.  It’s times like this that it must be oh-so-tempting to reach into the drawer and present something that one has presented before at another conference or meeting, right?  (Dr. Crazy isn’t going to do this, of course, because on the panel is a Dr. Bigshot whom she wants to impress with her intellectual rigor, which is why she’s freaking out now.)

Her post got me thinking:  is it acceptable to present the same paper or give the same lecture twice at conferences, seminars, or invited lectures?  Is it ever cool to lecture on material you’ve already published?  I remember going to a conference as a graduate student and seeing someone who was then regarded as an up-and-comer who gave what seemed to me to be a lazy talk based on notes sketched on a cocktail napkin, and then at the end he gestured to a stack of copies of an article he had just published and announced “well, anyway, I’ve just published this all in this article in the Journal of the History of Blibbityblab, so feel free to take a copy on your way out.”

That seemed to me to be profoundly uncool.  Continue Reading »

46 Comments »

April 23rd 2010
Vacation snaps, part deux

Posted under Dolls & European history & fluff

Hi there!  This morning, I have some more photos for your delectation.  (Hey–at least I’m not subjecting you to a slide show in my basement, fergawdssakes!)  Now, this little beauty can be yours for just 230 Euros.  I thought about buying it for GayProf, but then I thought it would mean so much more if I just took a picture and showed it to all of you.  (Thanks for sharing, GayProf!)

It seems like Wonder Woman’s costume gets skimpier and skimpier as the years go by–which is just about the opposite of most Earth women’s wardrobes. Continue Reading »

14 Comments »

April 22nd 2010
Invasion of the pod people

Posted under American history & captivity & Gender & Intersectionality & O Canada & race & women's history

If you just can’t get enough Historiann, or you’ll click on anything having to do with women’s and gender history, borderlands history, Native American history, or colonial North American history, or you’re just reallyreally bored, you can check out “Inroads:  Episode #2,” the podcast that graduate student Justin Carroll made of my talk at the CIC-American Indian Studies Consortium at Michigan State University earlier this month.  (At least you can find out what I sound like, if not what I look like!)  Those of you who are technologically adept can probably figure out how to put it on your i-Pods so that you can take me with you on your jog or trip to the gym.  (And who wouldn’t love working out to a discussion of religious education, self-mortification, and artistic expression among women in Wabanakia and Quebec in the eighteenth century?  Talk about “Sweatin’ to the Oldies!”)

The AISC has other podcasts that might be of interest to many of you:  Carroll also has posted a podcast of “From Ph.D. to Professor,” in which three MSU faculty members (Heather Howard, Susan Applegate Krouse, and Kimberli Lee) plus Susan Lobo of the University of Arizona discuss their professional development and the process of publishing their books.  Continue Reading »

13 Comments »

April 21st 2010
Leave? Or, the once-and-future state of maternity leave in academia

Posted under Gender & jobs & unhappy endings & women's history

Today’s post is a guest post by Anonymous, an Assistant Professor in a Humanities department at a large, public university and (for now) the mother of one child.  Here, she tells us the story of her request for a maternity leave for the birth of her second child.  Now nearly 8 months pregnant, she still isn’t sure what her university plans to do for her, or what price she might pay for having asked for accommodation:

When I had my first child, I was working at a university with no paid family or maternity leave.  The university stipulated that we must use accrued sick leave as salary during that period, but it turned out I had only accrued enough for three paid weeks.  On the other hand, my chair dealt with my request for leave promptly and professionally, and there appeared to be no negative consequences in the department or university for being a woman and daring to have a child (untenured no less).  But it was a rather young department and many faculty members had young children, so there was an established more-or-less child-friendly culture there.

Now that I am about to have another child, I am at a different institution (though both of my employers were large public universities).  As in my previous experience, I went to my chair at the earliest possible moment to “request” leave.  I had been told that the university had paid maternity leave, but didn’t know how it worked.   The chair listened to my request and then said that he would mention it to the dean during their next meeting.  Shortly thereafter the chair came back to me and said: “There’s a problem!”  Two problems, actually.  The first “problem” was that my child is due in the late spring or early summer, so there was a question about whether or not I qualified for leave in the fall, since (apparently!) I “should” just be taking it in the summer.  The second problem was that I had planned to be away in the fall (to be with my partner, who lives and works in another state), but the “leave” provided by the college requires service work.  So rather than providing actual “leave” the college gives course-releases, which is actually rather different from paid leave. Continue Reading »

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