Archive for the 'art' Category

November 7th 2013
Competitve motherhood and envy meet the oppression olympics.

Posted under art & bad language & book reviews & class & Gender & publication & unhappy endings & weirdness & women's history

Just go read Cristina Nehring’s review of Rachel Adams’s Raising Henry: A Memoir of Motherhood, Disability, and Discovery (Yale University Press, 2013). I don’t want to exerpt any of it, it’s just so unbelieveably mean. So go ahead–I’ll wait.

I haven’t read the book, but it strikes me as completely appropriate (insofar as I can tell through this rather nasty review) that Adams writes about her own experiences of parenting a child with Down syndrome, as the subtitle suggests. As one commenter at the Chronicle notes: “I admire Adams’s restraint in focusing on herself. I am alarmed when parents seem to think that all aspects of a child’s growing up are theirs to tell. Adams has told a story about herself and is clearly careful to draw boundaries between her story and her son’s story, as any thoughtful writer would do.”

Word. Too many parents rush in to tell their children’s stories, making them props in their books or characters in blog posts.

I also think it’s an interesting and rather brave choice for a woman memoirist not to make herself the virtuous heroine of her own story. (I’ll tell you right now: I don’t think I could do it.) Continue Reading »

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November 6th 2013
The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down: Historiann wings it to NYC

Posted under American history & art & book reviews & local news

It’s a wonderful town! I’m looking forward to my trip to New York, as I haven’t been there in thirteen years.

Tell me what you think: Frank Sinatra or Gene Kelly? I’m a Kelly girl, myself. (We’ll just leave the unfortunate Jules Munchin out of this contest.)

See you at NYU next Tuesday for lunch, and at the Columbia Early American seminar that evening. I’m very much looking forward to my visit, which was coordinated by Zara Anishanslan at the College of Staten Island, Eric Herschthal at Columbia, and Nicole Eustace at NYU. (Eric has been writing for Slate lately–have you seen his latest on Governor Dunmore’s Ethiopian Regiment? I especially liked his commentary this summer about why popular histories of the American Revolution ignore the current scholarship. He writes:

These pop histories make arguments I haven’t seen scholars of the Revolution make in years. Continue Reading »

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October 23rd 2013
Citations, the Chicago way.

Posted under American history & art & bad language & students & unhappy endings & weirdness

Why, oh why is it so difficult (if not impossible) to get students to use Chicago-style citations properly in history essays?  In evidence-intensive disciplines like mine, footnotes or endnotes (and no “works cited” page!) are the only kind of citations that make sense.  And yet, every semester, more than 60% of my students ignore the posted requirement that they use Chicago-style citations.

I assume this is because APA/MLA-style citations (parentheses with page number/s and a “works cited” page) are required in more disciplines.  And believe me, I’m grateful that my students (however mistakenly) use some kind of evidence and reasonably consistent citations in their papers.  But for historians, who (pardon my disciplinary pride here) should use more than one f^(king text or source per citation, it’s completely idiotic, not to mention disruptive of the flow of the paper and just goddamned ugly.  Continue Reading »

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September 24th 2013
Ask a Slave!

Posted under American history & art & class & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & race & Uncategorized & women's history

A graduate student of mine alerted me to this brilliant YouTube series of short videos, Ask a Slave. (Don’t we get all the best ideas from our students? I sure do!) Ask a Slave, directed by comedian Jordan Black, is based on the real-life experiences of actress Azie Mira Dungey who worked as a “living history character” to portray an enslaved maid at Mount Vernon.

One of the things I think Lizzie May does very well is to suggest the ways in which white women were just as complicit in the creation and maintenance of slavery as white men. Continue Reading »

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September 20th 2013
An almost unbloglich level of Franzenfreude

Posted under American history & art & book reviews & European history & Gender & race & technoskepticism & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness & women's history

Check it out:  Amanda Hess’s analysis of Jonathan Franzen’s recent essay in which he screams at the children to get off his lawn, and to take their Twitter-machines with them:

Franzen blames the Internet for eradicating “the quiet and permanence of the printed word,” which “assured some kind of quality control,” in favor of an apocalyptic hellscape punctuated by “bogus” Amazon reviews and “Jennifer-Weinerish self-promotion.” Back in Franzen’s day, “TV was something you watched only during prime time, and people wrote letters and put them in the mail, and every magazine and newspaper had a robust books section, and venerable publishers made long-term investments in young writers, and New Criticism reigned in English departments.” He goes on: “It wasn’t necessarily a better world (we had bomb shelters and segregated swimming pools), but it was the only world I knew to try to find my place in as a writer.”

Wow.  Not too many white people can openly express their nostalgia for segregation or apartheid and get their 6,500 word essays published in The Guardian!  But that’s not all:  apparently, guys like Franzen really are victims!  Of something.  The important thing to know is that Jonathan Franzen can no longer “find his place. . . as a writer” in our modern dystopia.  But the pre-internet world doesn’t seem all that awesome in his telling:

And then there is the tale of the German chick, told to pinpoint exactly the moment Franzen became an angry person. Continue Reading »

42 Comments »

September 10th 2013
“We have met the enemy, and they are ours.”

Posted under American history & art

Oliver Hazard Perry by Rembrandt Peale, ca. 1813

Oliver Hazard Perry by Rembrandt Peale, ca. 1813

Today is the bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie, 27-year old Oliver Hazard Perry’s unlikely victory over the British fleet in Lake Erie during the War of 1812.  The fact that the commander of the U.S. Navy in Lake Erie was 27 years old is a sign of just how desperate and underdeveloped the Navy was in 1813!  Nevertheless, his confident (and only slightly boastful) statement that “we have met the enemy, and they are ours,” is remembered today, especially by people who live near Lake Erie.  And, it was probably for the best that the Navy got its use out of him while young, as it did with most of its seamen, as he died of yellow fever at the age of 34 in 1819.

You can read more about the battle and its re-enactment on Labor Day this year at The Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial webpage, complete with a video of the replica of Perry’s ship The Niagra.  (Unfortunately, it’s marred by using that hideously ubiquitous song by “F.U.N.,” which is pretentious and overplayed.)  They’ve set up a Twitter account for the old commodore, and there’s more information about the battle at “The” Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory, a freshwater research lab on Gibraltar Island in Lake Erie. Continue Reading »

7 Comments »

July 20th 2013
Off to Glacier

Posted under American history & art & fluff & happy endings

Friends, it’s time for me to retreat into one of my nation’s fantastic national parks.  In 2011 and 2012, we did Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Mesa Verde, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone–some of them more than once.  In March, we went to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, and this summer seemed like a good time to visit Glacier National Park, tagging Grand Teton and Yellowstone again along the way. Continue Reading »

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July 13th 2013
Sexuality and power in recent novels and recent history

Posted under American history & art & Gender & GLBTQ & students & the body & women's history

Oh, professor!

In a review of two recent novels that feature professor-student affairs, reviewer Michelle Dean asks where is the frank discussion of power?  She writes,

The professor-student romance debate similarly breaks down, for the most part, to two opposing views. In one corner you have your Roiphes and your Paglias, who style themselves as revolutionaries for celebrating the power dynamics of the status quo. In the other you have feminists more aligned with Andrea Dworkin who seem to believe one can remove power from relationships entirely.

(Presumably, she meant to write instead “feminists more aligned with Andrea Dworkin who seem to believe one can’t remove power from relationships entirely.  At least, I’ve never read a word of Dworkin to mean that there was any such thing as sexuality without power.  This is a woman who was closely aligned with Catherine Mackinnon, the woman who wrote “man f^(ks woman, subject verb object.”)

So what do these new novelistic treatments of professor-student sexual relationships have to say about them?  Continue Reading »

20 Comments »

July 10th 2013
Wednesday’s post is sponsored by Carhenge

Posted under American history & art & bad language & fluff & local news

Carhenge:  a uniquely American roadside attraction.

Continue Reading »

5 Comments »

June 19th 2013
Where am I? Where the heck are you?

Posted under American history & art & fluff & happy endings & local news

This is a re-posting from 2011, but it explains my recent absence from the blog:

Interestingly, this old home video is pretty accurately descriptive of my week– Continue Reading »

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