Comments on: Feminist mentors and feminist activism: part II of my interview with Mary Beth Norton http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/17/feminist-mentors-and-feminist-activism-part-ii-of-my-interview-with-mary-beth-norton/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:41:03 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Indyanna http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/17/feminist-mentors-and-feminist-activism-part-ii-of-my-interview-with-mary-beth-norton/comment-page-1/#comment-1094078 Thu, 20 Sep 2012 16:42:46 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19555#comment-1094078 I don’t know how it has fared in its field(s)–which are certainly not anywhere nearly related to any of my fields–but the essay below by Donald Fleming on the unanticipated disciplinary consequences of academic spatial and institutional migrations driven by the mid-20th century upheavals of Nazism and World War II was suggested to me many years ago as being worthy of a place on a comprehensive exam reading list treating the then much-talked-about “sociology of knowledge.”

Donald Fleming, “Emigre Physicists and the Biological Revolution,” in Donald Fleming and Bernard Bailyn, eds. The Intellectual Migration (Cambridge: Harvard, 1969).

There’s also an interview in print that I could retrieve from my print file about a guy who came to a famous American university and gave a job talk that he didn’t realize was a job talk and was offered (on the spot) a job that he didn’t know was available in a “field” that he had not trained in and that he didn’t even know existed. That was in the Annus Mirabilis of 1968, I should say, so maybe to exceptional to serve as an example.

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By: Z http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/17/feminist-mentors-and-feminist-activism-part-ii-of-my-interview-with-mary-beth-norton/comment-page-1/#comment-1093454 Thu, 20 Sep 2012 06:26:46 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19555#comment-1093454 “Can you really change disciplines at mid-career? I mean, and still keep your tenured position?”

Sometimes, yes. It depends on what your subject is and your discipline, but if, for instance, I were to start working on an issue rather than a work or an author, and then start looking at that issue from the point of view of a discipline other than my own or in addition to my own … it could be done.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/17/feminist-mentors-and-feminist-activism-part-ii-of-my-interview-with-mary-beth-norton/comment-page-1/#comment-1092945 Wed, 19 Sep 2012 12:50:04 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19555#comment-1092945 I knew it! I think you’d be terrific in a class like that.

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By: truffula http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/17/feminist-mentors-and-feminist-activism-part-ii-of-my-interview-with-mary-beth-norton/comment-page-1/#comment-1092698 Wed, 19 Sep 2012 04:21:13 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19555#comment-1092698 Yow. I would leap at a class like history of exploration. I think it would be very interesting to play micro and macro (structure of the atom/structure of the universe for example) against each other or maybe feedbacks among different disciplines. So cool.

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By: Indyanna http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/17/feminist-mentors-and-feminist-activism-part-ii-of-my-interview-with-mary-beth-norton/comment-page-1/#comment-1092497 Tue, 18 Sep 2012 20:59:35 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19555#comment-1092497 I would almost join a MOOC to have a virtual opportunity to ride “shotgun” on one of those things moving around on Mars! And that’s saying something. You could almost imagine a graduate version of that, because I think going this far, far off-topic and methodology probably dislodges conceptions about the nature of inquiry and evidence that would not emerge from sitting in a standard book version of a seminar in a “cognate” discipline.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/17/feminist-mentors-and-feminist-activism-part-ii-of-my-interview-with-mary-beth-norton/comment-page-1/#comment-1092436 Tue, 18 Sep 2012 18:56:03 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19555#comment-1092436 That is a course that I’m sure truffula could help you co-teach, Mary Beth, from what I understand of her work.

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By: Mary Beth Norton http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/17/feminist-mentors-and-feminist-activism-part-ii-of-my-interview-with-mary-beth-norton/comment-page-1/#comment-1092414 Tue, 18 Sep 2012 18:16:15 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19555#comment-1092414 Historians do pick & choose a lot from other disciplines and subfields. For example, I already mentioned that I have had to read a lot of early modern English history. That’s still history, but Americanists who study later periods rarely venture across geographic lines in the way I’ve done, and which other Early Americanists also should (if they haven’t). One of my most recent grad students has worked on Dutch/American trade & she got heavily into early modern Dutch history, appropriately. But beyond history, I’ve read in anthropological works on gender and for the most recent book, Separated by their Sex, I read & drew on works by literature profs on both early modern English & American topics in a way I had never expected to do. Yet one such work gave me access to a term to employ for a phenomenon I had already identified, rhetorical femininity, and I used it to good advantage. (anyone interested in the definition can look it up in my book)
As for moving into new areas to revitalize one’s teaching and research, yes indeedy! I certainly felt that way when I moved into women’s history and then added men to the mix in a gendered way in Founding Mothers & Fathers. Both changes were very intellectually stimulating. Now I am returning to an old topic of interest but with a very different mindset (see pt 3 of interview on this).

And right now I am having an enormous amount of fun teaching a wholly innovative large lecture course with Steve Squyres, who runs the Opportunity rover on Mars and is part of the Curiosity team as well. We call our course “History of Exploration: Land, Sea, & Space.” It’s currently in its 3d iteration and requires me to lecture on Marco Polo along with more familiar topics like John Smith or Hernan Cortes. This time through I’m developing a lecture on women explorers, too. Plus I always know the latest news from Mars. . .which is amazing. Steve is a current explorer with a unique perspective on our subject. We think this is the only course in the country crosslisted between History & Astronomy. The students seem to love it. We both do too.

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By: Trilogies, trade presses, and books in print: part III of my interview with Mary Beth Norton : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/17/feminist-mentors-and-feminist-activism-part-ii-of-my-interview-with-mary-beth-norton/comment-page-1/#comment-1092317 Tue, 18 Sep 2012 15:17:54 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19555#comment-1092317 [...] in her honor in Ithaca, New York September 28 and 29.  (If you’ve missed part I and part II, get yourself caught up and then read on.)  Here, we talk about her decision to to write a trilogy [...]

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By: Shelley http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/17/feminist-mentors-and-feminist-activism-part-ii-of-my-interview-with-mary-beth-norton/comment-page-1/#comment-1092297 Tue, 18 Sep 2012 14:27:18 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19555#comment-1092297 Ours is the most gatekept society in history.

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By: Indyanna http://www.historiann.com/2012/09/17/feminist-mentors-and-feminist-activism-part-ii-of-my-interview-with-mary-beth-norton/comment-page-1/#comment-1091994 Tue, 18 Sep 2012 02:53:49 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=19555#comment-1091994 Historians are the ultimate party-grazers when it comes to nibbling along the disciplinary and theoretical buffet table in the course of academic life. But you can also get “re-disciplined,” as it were, at least partly by external agency. I’m thinking of Caroll Smith-Rosenberg, who was initially hired into a Department of Psychiatry of a University Hospital because she was married to a historian in an institution that was averse to “nepotism” (as it was then conceived). She actually took a several year-long NEH (or other) fellowship in that subject, and I think it considerably contributed to the perhaps unpredictably different trajectory of the rest of her scholarly career. [This ironically happened roughly at about the time that Mary Beth Norton's senior colleague was making that comment about "perfectly OK"]

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