Archive for May, 2013

May 30th 2013
Nazi pilots on crystal meth!

Posted under technoskepticism & the body & unhappy endings & weirdness

Actual Nazi pilot Erich Alfred Hartmann (1922-93), courtesy of Fuck Yeah History Crushes

No, this is not a gay porn DVD title–amazingly enough, that’s a true headline!  Check out this article from Der Spiegel–they called it panzerschokolade!

It was in Germany, though, that the drug first became popular. When the then-Berlin-based drug maker Temmler Werke launched its methamphetamine compound onto the market in 1938, high-ranking army physiologist Otto Ranke saw in it a true miracle drug that could keep tired pilots alert and an entire army euphoric. It was the ideal war drug. In September 1939, Ranke tested the drug on university students, who were suddenly capable of impressive productivity despite being short on sleep.

From that point on, the Wehrmacht, Germany’s World War II army, distributed millions of the tablets to soldiers on the front, who soon dubbed the stimulant “Panzerschokolade” (“tank chocolate”). British newspapers reported that German soldiers were using a “miracle pill.” But for many soldiers, the miracle became a nightmare. Continue Reading »

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May 29th 2013
AHA Roundtable: Historians’ Perspectives on Web Ethics

Posted under American history & jobs & publication

Howdy, friends–today’s post is an invitation for you to click on over to the American Historical Association’s Roundtable, “Historians’ Perspectives on Web Ethics,” a free-range discussion of the ethical and moral responsibilities historians have with respect to our online presence, either as web page hosts, bloggers, commenters, Tweeters, etc.  Many thanks to Vanessa Varin, an Assistant Editor of Web and Social Media for Perspectives, the newsmagazine of the AHAI made a contribution to the discussion, as did Benjamin Alpers of Oklahoma University and the U.S. Intellectual History blog, John Fea of Messiah College and the blog The Way of Improvement Leads Home, and Claire Potter of the New School for Public Engagement, a.k.a. our old pal, Tenured Radical.

I was interested to see that three of us wrote about the necessity of developing online professional standards and aggressively curating online discussions, whereas Alpers was the only one of us who wrote about a vision of the web as an “open, public scholarly space.”  (This may have something to do with the fact that he has an intellectual history blog, which probably attracts fewer than its share of trolls compared to queer-radfem-political-cowgirl-religion bloggers like Fea, TR, and myself.)  Continue Reading »

18 Comments »

May 28th 2013
Libertarian “feminist” to actual feminists: stop whimpering like a bunch of p*ssies!

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

Why is it that Libertarian “feminism” is only expressed as criticism of any kind of feminist activism?  Take Cathy Young, for exampleplease!  Here she instructs us that “letting ideologues dictate the boundaries of acceptable speech on a large area of the Internet is a very bad idea.”  OK–that’s an interesting point, right?  The problem is that the only “ideologues” in her column are feminists who object to online misogyny.  She fails to identify online misogyny as ideological commitment, too.

First, she introduces the problem by using language that implies that it’s not online misogyny that threatens violence against actual women, but online feminism threatens violence against free speech, suggesting a false equivalence between the two points of view:

Feminist activists are on the warpath against Facebook, which, they claim, condones woman-hating even as it censors not only other hate speech but “indecent” images of breastfeeding mothers.  When I was asked to discuss this initiative on HuffPost Live WebTV,  I wasn’t sure where I stood.  The examples collected by the activists—such as a photo of a bloodied woman captioned, “She broke my heart.  I broke her nose”—are certainly repellent; the First Amendment is not at stake, since it’s a matter of private citizens using speech to pressure a corporation that already restricts content it deems offensive.  Yet a closer look suggests that the real agenda in this campaign is to whip up outrage about our culture’s alleged misogyny and flex muscle that could be used to intimidate and curtail legitimate speech.

Got it?  One group of people posts a photo of a bloodied woman with a violent caption, but that’s not the side that’s described as “on the warpath” against women.  It’s the side critical of this use of Facebook that is “on the warpath” in their attempt to “whip up outrage” and “flex muscle”–to beat up violent misogynists?  Continue Reading »

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May 26th 2013
A Modest Proposal: the Defense of Motherhood Act

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

Here’s an excellent suggestion from University of Wisconsin law proffie R. Alta CharoThe Defense of Motherhood Act!  Coming soon to a state legislature near you, if you decide to make it happen:

Having an abortion is a momentous decision. And a growing number of states are expressing concern for women who are contemplating that choice.

.       .       .       .       .

But while states give such solicitous attention to women planning to have an abortion, they ignore the needs of women planning to give birth. Bringing a child into the world is also a life-changing decision. Too many women have to make that choice without similar protections. It is time to demand equality and tell our legislatures to enact the Defense of Motherhood Act.

.       .       .       .       .

Physicians would have to inform pregnant women about the risks of childbirth and motherhood. They would have to note that childbirth, compared with abortion, is roughly 14 times more likely to result in maternal death and is more often associated with depression and other forms of mental illness. They would also have to emphasize that working women in the United States can expect to see their wages drop 9 to 16 percent for each child and that having a child makes it significantly less likely that an unmarried woman will ever marry. Continue Reading »

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May 23rd 2013
Bleg: Introduction to Historical Practice

Posted under American history & book reviews & students

Help me!

Howdy, friends:  today’s post is a transparent cry for help!  I’m teaching historiography again to our incoming graduate students.  (“Historiography” is the obscurantist term we use for a course that’s meant to be something like “introduction to historical practice.”  I think we should just change the name to the latter term and stop intimidating our graduate students.)  I’ve organized the course around an exploration of various scandals or ethical controversies in the practice of history recently, and I need your advice before I submit my book orders for the fall semester.

First, I’d like your suggestions for a memoir or reflexive book by a historian.  In the fall of 2011, the last time I taught the course, I used Richard White’s Remembering Ahanagran:  A History of Stories (1998; 2003), a book about White’s attempts to research the stories his mother told about her family and girlhood in Ireland.  It was very good, but almost too subtle for my purposes.  We also read the following week Debra Gray White’s Telling Histories:  Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower (2008), which I will keep on the syllabus this time around because I found it incredibly effective and moving series of essays written from the margins rather than the center of the profession. Continue Reading »

41 Comments »

May 20th 2013
When you see Count MOOCbot, scream and run away!

Posted under American history & book reviews & childhood & students & technoskepticism & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness

Daniel Luzer on Jeffrey J. Selingo’s College (Un)bound:  The Future of Higher Education and What it Means for Students, in a review entitled “Revolution for Thee, Not Me:”

[I]f we’re expanding access to college through alternative, technology-based systems, is this really expanding access to college or providing a different experience entirely? Perhaps the biggest flaw of this book is that while Selingo offers a very good take on what declining state funding and innovative technology could mean for both colleges and students, he fails to consider what this “revolution” in higher education might mean for American society as a whole.

“The college of the future will certainly be different than the one of today,” he explains, “but robots will not replace professors in the classroom anytime soon. Harvard will remain Harvard.” He estimates that 500 or so of America’s 4,000 colleges have large enough endowments to remain unchanged by this revolution. But isn’t that a problem? If Princeton and Williams will be unaffected by these trends, what’s really going on here?

It seems that the future won’t unbind higher education for everyone—just for the working and middle classes. That’s because rich people will always be able to afford traditional colleges. Continue Reading »

17 Comments »

May 18th 2013
John Winthrop: still controversial after all these years.

Posted under American history & bad language & book reviews & European history

For a comment on a paper that I’m giving this afternoon, I needed to check a quotation from The Journal of John Winthrop, 1630-1649 (1996), edited by Richard Dunn, James Savage, and Laetitia Yeandle, the most recent and authoritative edition of Winthrop’s journals.  I should have done this at home, as I own this 799 page doorstop of a book, but luckily I found that the relevant passage was available via Google books.  Yay!  Mission accomplished.  Thanks, internets!

But wait:  there are two online reviews of Winthrop’s journal, which I thought was pretty interesting as he’s been dead since 1649.   “Imi” wrote, “Thank God we only have to read a small part of it for a lecture, because even those couple of pages were really boring. Continue Reading »

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May 17th 2013
The dream of the 90s!

Posted under American history & happy endings

I’m in Portland, Oregon for the first time in my adult life–it seems like a very nice small city, maybe a little overhyped.  I ate lunch from a food truck for the first time since the 1990s, as a matter of fact. These things were all over West Philadelphia in the 1980s and 90s. I ate so many $2.95 cartons of pork lo mein that I thought “Spicy Miss” was my nickname, instead of the question the truck proprietors would ask me when I placed my order (“Spicy, Miss?”)

 


Continue Reading »

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May 15th 2013
Guest post on the Lords of MOOC Creation: who’s really for change, and who in fact is standing athwart history yelling STOP?

Posted under American history & class & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & race & students & technoskepticism

Howdy, friends–Historiann here.  I’m knee deep in research papers and final exams and have no time for posting, so thank goodness someone out there is writing for the non-peer reviewed world wide timewasting web.  Today’s guest post is by two senior history professors who attended last week’s Annual Meeting of the American Council of Learned SocietiesSusan Amussen, an early modern British historian in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts at the University of California, Merced, and Allyson Poska, an early modern Spanish historian in the History and American Studies Department at the University of Mary Washington.  They both attended the panel on MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), and came away wanting to talk about something thing no one in MOOC-world seems to want to talk about:  power.  So of course, they came to me and asked if they could talk to all of you.

Amussen and Poska ask a number of provocative questions:  Why in spite of the hype do MOOCs appear to be merely a digitalized version of the “sage on the stage” style of lecturing familiar to those of us in the United States and Commonwealth countries 100 (and more) years ago?  Why do MOOC-world advocates appear totally ignorant of feminist pedagogy, which disrupted this model of education going on 50 years ago?  What does it say about MOOC-world’s vision of the future of higher education that the Lords of MOOC Creation are overwhelmingly white, male,  and U.S. American professors at highly exclusive universities?  (And for the Lords of MOOC Creation, is this a bug, or a feature?  Friends, I’ll let you be the judges.)

 

MOOCs:  Gender, Class and Empire

 

Much of the discussion of MOOCs has focused on (alternately) their promise of providing “the best teachers” to students around the world, and presenting cheap quality education to the masses; or the threat they pose to education, in replacing face to face contact with potted lectures, further deskilling and de-professionalizing those of us who teach at less elite universities.  We want to argue that MOOCs raise broader questions than those usually mentioned. In the course of listening to a discussion of MOOCs at the recent meeting of the ACLS (American Council of Learned Societies), we realized that MOOCs must be analyzed in the context of the U.S. American discourse of gender, class, and empire. Continue Reading »

47 Comments »

May 15th 2013
Watch This Space

Posted under American history & students

I’ve got a dynamite guest post from two scholars who were at the recent American Council of Learned Societies conference last weekend in Baltimore that I hope to publish later today.  They attended the session on MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), and have a lot to say about the way that power appears to work in and through them.  As newspapers used to say, WATCH THIS SPACE for a fascinating post soon.  As the Drudge report also says:  “Developing. . . “

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