Comments on: “History Under Attack:” Tony Grafton is spoiling for a fight. http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/05/history-under-attack-tony-grafton-is-spoiling-for-a-fight/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Tue, 23 Sep 2014 02:57:30 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Diane Ravitch: the only honest reformer, or an opportunitistic, grudge-bearing polemicist? : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/05/history-under-attack-tony-grafton-is-spoiling-for-a-fight/comment-page-2/#comment-911930 Mon, 28 Nov 2011 16:14:09 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13773#comment-911930 [...] thing to change one’s mind in the course of a long career.  Because of my conviction that historians are bad polemicists because we tend to be splitters devoted to nuance rather than lumpers devoted to political [...]

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By: American Historical Association Meeting 2011: End Of Conference Notes - Tenured Radical - The Chronicle of Higher Education http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/05/history-under-attack-tony-grafton-is-spoiling-for-a-fight/comment-page-2/#comment-842481 Sat, 25 Jun 2011 16:43:12 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13773#comment-842481 [...] to Historiann for liberal quotation from and commentary on Grafton’s opening presidential salvo in this [...]

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By: Sunday roundup: unicorns, meritocracies, and humanities grants edition : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/05/history-under-attack-tony-grafton-is-spoiling-for-a-fight/comment-page-1/#comment-785441 Sun, 06 Feb 2011 17:19:27 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13773#comment-785441 [...] Young reports that Tony Grafton is back with another column in Perspectives this month in which he cites in particular the discussions here and at Jeremy’s blog last month about his January American Historical [...]

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By: Just Do It: Academic Historians and the General Public | Crossroads http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/05/history-under-attack-tony-grafton-is-spoiling-for-a-fight/comment-page-1/#comment-783146 Mon, 31 Jan 2011 20:50:00 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13773#comment-783146 [...] Several responses are more readily available: I direct you here and here (which follows here, so you can get some idea of the content of the original [...]

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By: Eli Rabett http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/05/history-under-attack-tony-grafton-is-spoiling-for-a-fight/comment-page-1/#comment-775418 Mon, 17 Jan 2011 03:04:35 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13773#comment-775418 Where were the historians when the physics and chemistry departments were getting wiped out?

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By: History Under Attack, part II: Can splitters be polemicists? : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/05/history-under-attack-tony-grafton-is-spoiling-for-a-fight/comment-page-1/#comment-773262 Thu, 13 Jan 2011 16:44:30 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13773#comment-773262 [...] week, we had a conversation here inspired by incoming American Historical Association President Tony Graf… in this month’s Perspectives, the AHA’s monthly magazine.  I’ll republish here [...]

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By: Historiann on the attack on liberal arts « Skeptical Humanities http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/05/history-under-attack-tony-grafton-is-spoiling-for-a-fight/comment-page-1/#comment-772089 Tue, 11 Jan 2011 18:45:21 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13773#comment-772089 [...] “History Under Attack”: Tony Grafton is spoiling for a fight [...]

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By: Northern Barbarian http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/05/history-under-attack-tony-grafton-is-spoiling-for-a-fight/comment-page-1/#comment-771429 Mon, 10 Jan 2011 15:01:42 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13773#comment-771429 My experience has been either at an elite SLAC or BIG 10 U (grad school), and I’m afraid that I’ve seen a good deal of truth in the stereotype that Prof. Grafton is rightly trying to combat. Many of my grad school professors openly regarded teaching with contempt, and even here at a college that boasts endlessly about its teaching ethic I have not a few colleagues with a “back to the grind” attitude. Sure we all have days when we want to drown the students, but I have actually felt a certain embarrassment in admitting that I’m looking forward to returning to the classroom after a semester on leave. I know that most historians are dedicated teachers, but I think that we do need to address this problem directly instead of denying it.

I look forward to the next installment. Let me add here, as a Russian/Soviet specialist, that two years ago a Russian historian was *arrested* for investigating the conditions of German prisoners of war in the far north Gulag during WWII. Allegedly he was “violating the privacy” of the POWs. Nationalist blindness is not limited to Americans!

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By: Sadly, no surprises: young, mentally ill man murders 6 and injures 14 : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/05/history-under-attack-tony-grafton-is-spoiling-for-a-fight/comment-page-1/#comment-771127 Mon, 10 Jan 2011 04:12:22 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13773#comment-771127 [...] been working and playing hard offline this weekend.  I will return next week to post more on Tony Grafton’s call to arms, as [...]

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2011/01/05/history-under-attack-tony-grafton-is-spoiling-for-a-fight/comment-page-1/#comment-770775 Sun, 09 Jan 2011 13:43:40 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=13773#comment-770775 KC, I disagree with you on a number of points. First, to the issue of specialization: yes, there are a number of small research projects, and anyone can cherry-pick a conference program to say, “gee, what a dumb, pointless, and narrow topic!” But, 1) there has to be room for trying out new ideas and getting feedback on smaller projects, which after all might grow into larger and more ambitious projects. After all, conference papers are 10 pages long, whereas books are 200-300 pages long. People in the natural sciences and STEM fields do this too–and no one is staking out their national meetings or complaining about the narrow, technical nature of their research. We actually publish books that the general public can get their hands on for free in their local libraries via ILL–not just narrow, technical journal articles. I wonder if in some ways the problem is more that our work is just a little too accessible to the public.

In short, there is an unreasonable expectation that anything in History or English be immediately transparent to lay readers that I think is mistaken. We are not hobbyists building backyard rockets–we are professionals, and we need to have professional conversations with other professionals whose meaning and importance is not always transparent.

But, all that aside, I think we’re rather in a golden age of academic transparency/involvement in the “real world.” Leaving aside the blogging that many academics are doing, The New Yorker also regularly publishes book review essays by Jill Lepore and Anthony Grafton, and Sean Wilentz has since the Clinton impeachment written regularly for The New Republic. But, the fact is that we live in a much more complex (or even messier) media-rich world, in which those essays in general interest magazines compete with infinite other essays and articles for our attention. What kind of audience do you think a general interest historical essay would attract these days, given that fact? (IOW, hyperspecialization is hardly a problem only in the humanities, but it seems like we’re the only ones called to answer for it.)

I also wonder about this: I feel like the current era, where we have a glut of Ph.D.s in the humanities, is going to come to an end sooner or later. The “job crisis” began in 1970, so it’s been this way for 40+ years, and it’s only gotten worse. At first it was because of the hiring spree of the 1960s and the expansion of American universities in the Cold War, which halted pretty quickly in 1970 or so. Then 20 years later, it was the decision of administrators to replace tenure lines with adjuncts and lecturers. So while of course things will change, unless the profession unionizes or organizes somehow, I don’t see it changing dramatically. We’re 40 years into a problem and are just now starting to grapple with the reality of our situation.

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