Archive for May, 2011

May 16th 2011
We are experiencing non-technical difficulties

Posted under fluff & local news & the body

I got nuthin’.  Except, maybe, my observation that getting up at 5 to do yoga or run at 6 a.m. is a great boon to my physical fitness, if only I can stay awake from 8:15 to 9 a.m. during my drive to work. 

Posting will resume once my grades have been submitted and my overdue conference paper completed.


May 13th 2011
Berks blog meetup: Friday, June 10th, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Posted under Berkshire Conference & women's history

Come and git us!

Howdy, friends!  It’s just a month until the Fifteenth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women will convene at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst on June 9-12.  (See the program here–it explains it all.)  I can’t wait!

Tenured RadicalClio Bluestocking, Another Damned Medievalist, Janice Liedl, Knitting Clio, and I have found a good time for a blogger (and blog reader) meetup, after the sessions end on Friday afternoon, and before the dining hall closes at (the improbably early hour of) 7 p.m.  So, we’ll be hanging out in the Grad Lounge of the Lincoln Campus Center from 5:30 to 6:30–come join us and enjoy the beverage of your choice!  If you consult the campus map on page 27 of the program, you’ll see that the Lincoln Campus Center is also the conference hotel, and is right across the street from Worcester Dining, where you can find your dinner after the meetup. Continue Reading »


May 12th 2011
Keep Austen Weird

Posted under art & European history & fluff & weirdness & women's history


May 11th 2011
Gingrich prexy run reflects his sense that history is a superhero comic book plus decoder ring

Posted under American history & childhood & European history & wankers & weirdness

Photo lifted from Roxie's World


Matt Bai of the New York Times claims in this brief piece that “Gingrich Run Reflects His Sense of History.”  Don’t laugh America–Bai says this isn’t a vanity run for president to get his own teevee deal:

[H]aving spent a fair amount of time with Mr. Gingrich for a cover story I wrote for The New York Times Magazine two years ago, I never had much doubt that he was serious this time around. The thing you have to understand about Newt is that he is, by training and temperament, an avid historian, and he is as true a believer as you will ever find in the concept of destiny.

An Army brat growing up, flat-footed and near-sighted, Mr. Gingrich was the perpetual new kid in school who wasn’t going to star on the football team. But he found an outlet for his passion in the histories he read, especially those concerning great heroes. He imagined himself — and, reasonably or not, still does — as a lead protagonist in the history of his own time, a consequential character in the grand American narrative.

In particular, Mr. Gingrich is a devotee of the historian Arnold J. Toynbee, who meditated on the concept of “departure and return” — the idea that great leaders have to leave (or be banished from) their kingdoms before they can better themselves and return as conquering heroes. One of Newt’s heroes, the French general and statesman Charles de Gaulle, embodies just this kind of romantic narrative, having spent 12 years out of power before returning to lead his country. So does Ronald Reagan, who traveled the country after losing his bid for the Republican nomination in 1976, then came roaring back to win it all four years later. Continue Reading »


May 10th 2011
Exam week fun: University Challenge

Posted under art & bad language & childhood & European history & fluff & students

See if you can spot the stars of today in this clip from yesteryear:

Well, it was funny in the 1980s if you were 16 or 17. . .


May 8th 2011
The internet, cowgirls, and the search for authenticity

Posted under American history & Gender & women's history

You know what this joint needs?  More cowgirls. Amirite?  It seems like there are just a lot of photos of ugly men and sausages on this blog lately, and I don’t like it any more than you do.

I’ve got a question for you, friends:  did any of you read the profile of fellow cowgirl-blogger Rhee Ree Drummond, a.k.a the Pioneer Woman, in The New Yorker this week?  (Sorry, folks:  it’s for subscribers only.)  And if you did, did any of you find author Amanda Fortini’s surprise and dismay that the Pioneer Woman is (in her personal judgment) all hat and very little cattle a little naive, or even a bit simple-minded?  Now, click on this link to the Pioneer Woman–and you tell me if you’re surprised that the woman is on a book tour.

Fortini implies that it’s very suspicious that Drummond, now living on an actual ranch with actual cattle and even an actual cowboy husband and a ranch hand in Oklahoma and homeschooling four actual children, has a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Southern California.  I guess their ranch isn’t ranch-y enough for her:

 The two main rooms of the Drummonds’ seventies-era two-story wooden house form a kind of central artery where nearly all activity, except sleeping and ranching, takes place.  The blond-wood kitchen has a large breakfast bar that wraps around a Viking Range, as well as two stainless-steel Bosch dishwashers.  The room opens into a den with soaring ceilings, where a colossal flat-screen television faces a prodigious brown tweed sectional couch.  Pretty much everything in the Drummond house is supersized. Continue Reading »


May 7th 2011
End-of-the-worlders, again! (And I feel fine.)

Posted under American history & fluff & unhappy endings & weirdness

I heard a story today on NPR about another group of Christian True Believers who believe in a clear end-date of time.  This time, it’s May 21, 2011, two weeks from today.  (Gee, it’s too bad my grades for the spring term are due May 17!  Bummer.  Then again, if they’re right, who’s gonna know the difference as of May 22?)

These millenialist groups never learn from history, or from anyone I guess–but I suppose they’re betting that someone is bound to be right about the end of life on Earth sometime, right?  One of my favorite stories from nineteenth-century U.S. history is the story of the Millerites, Christian enthusiasts of William Miller who believed that the end of time would be in 1843, or maybe 1844, or perhaps in 1845.  When each of the dates he picked turned out not to be the end of the world, most of his enthusiasts drifted away.  Remember all of the excitement about Y2K and the coming end-of-times/computer meltdown that would return us all to the bronze age?  Funny how that just didn’t come up very much after January 1, 2000. Continue Reading »


May 6th 2011
Should colleges ban fraternities?

Posted under American history & childhood & class & Gender & GLBTQ & Intersectionality & race & students

Sorry, boys!

That’s the question under discussion today at the New York Times’ feature, “Room for Debate,” starring Historiann BFF Nicholas L. Syrett of the University of Northern Colorado, author of The Company He Keeps:  A History of White College Fraternities (Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, 2009).  Nick gets the debate started with a strong opinion grounded in his research on the history of frats:

The chicken-or-egg question is this: do fraternities promote misogyny in members or do freshmen with retrograde gender politics seek out fraternity membership? The answer is both. We all join organizations whose values already match our own. But by promoting one version of masculinity – hard drinking and sexually aggressive – fraternities pressure men to change in order to earn membership and status within them.

Either way, if colleges support organizations promoting these attitudes, they tacitly condone them as well, encouraging men to believe there is a place for such beliefs on campus. The colleges themselves are thus culpable, which is precisely the point of the suit lodged against Yale.

I found most of the other debaters’ comments to be surprisingly wishy-washy, even those who agree with Syrett that fraternities are notorious sites of anti-intellectualism, alcohol abuse, and sexual assault.  Continue Reading »


May 5th 2011
Baa Ram U. lays it on thick this year

Posted under jobs & local news

I got an e-mail yesterday explaining that I’m not getting a raise this summer, again.  (We haven’t had a raise of any kind since 2008, and we faculty only get merit increases anyway.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cost of living increase in my life.)  Here’s the boffo list of valuable, money-saving coupons I’m getting in lieu of a raise:

  • “The Board of Governors has approved our recommendation that there be no increase in [Baa Ram U.] parking permit fees again next year.”
  • “Beginning in the fall, we will be increasing the dependent tuition scholarship from 25% to 50% of resident tuition.” 
  • We will be increasing the Employee Study Privilege benefit from 6 to 9 credits per year, starting this summer.”
  • Faculty and staff will now be able to apply their study privilege credits to [Baa Ram U.] Global Campus courses [i.e. online classes], starting this summer.”
  • The uni has purchased new space for expanding the campus childcare center and it has adopted a new policy to accomodate breastfeeding mothers.  (Funny how this is being touted as a special bonus, isn’t it?)   
  • Baa Ram U. will offer Zipcar services starting in the fall term to faculty, students, and staff, for a fee.
  • The Veterinary Teaching Hospital will offer a 20 percent discount on veterinary services to [Baa Ram U.] employees.

Too bad for folks who don’t have cars, kids, or pets and who already have all the terminal degrees they want–they’re really getting nothing.  (Maybe that’s why they’re doing Zipcar this year–is it a sop to those responsible, green, athletic types who don’t have children and already ditched their cars?) Continue Reading »


May 4th 2011
Brilliant Mistake

Posted under American history & unhappy endings

That’s my final thought on this nearly decade-long “War on Terror.” (Sort of like George W. Bush’s “catastrophic success?” See the former Prez’s reaction to the death of Osama Bin Laden here.) I wish that I could push a button and talk in the past and not the present tense.

It’s May, so sorry about the glum. Here’s hoping more cheerful posting will resume tomorrow. Continue Reading »


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