Archive for the 'childhood' Category

July 9th 2013
Why they only need little houses on the prairie now: reproduction politics in South Dakota

Posted under American history & childhood & Gender & the body & women's history

Charles Ingalls (1836-1902), hipster

You might have wondered why I found myself driving across South Dakota recently.  I’ve heard for years about the DeSmet annual Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant, in which the townspeople put on a play based on one of the Little House series of books.  Unsurprisingly, their play rotation focus on the books set partially or completely in DeSmet–By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter and Little Town on the Prairie.  This year’s production was Little Town, and I have to say that I was impressed.  The talent is mostly local, with the major roles played by high school or college students.  Local younger children and adults played some of the smaller roles.  The permanently installed stage sets, lights, and sound are not small-town at all, and the setting on the South Dakota prairie is beautiful and memorable.  The show was timed so that complete darkness finally fell just as the play ended, so the mosquitoes held off until the curtain call.  I strongly and enthusiastically recommend a visit.

My only criticism?  I don’t mind seeing a high schooler play Charles Ingalls, but he really should try to cultivate Pa’s crazy ugly hipster beard.  They’re back in style these days.

Those of you who know the books will remember that DeSmet is the place where the Ingalls family finally settled after Pa’s restless and relentlessly unsuccessful attempts at homesteading in Wisconsin, Kansas, and Minnesota.  Continue Reading »

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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 »

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May 8th 2013
Worst teachers ever.

Posted under American history & bad language & childhood & fluff & Gender & jobs & students & wankers & weirdness

Trying to avoid grading final exams? Slate offers a diversion with a feature called “What’s the worst thing a teacher ever said to you?”

The Slate writers had some pretty funny stories, usually involving teachers who were irritated about being corrected by their students, but the stories in the comments below are funnier. Check out the story of the kid who tried–and failed!–to convince his high school honors English teacher that Miguel Cervantes’s Don Quixote takes place in Spain instead of the Netherlands. (Because windmills–duh!) And the stories about not understanding a teacher’s thick Southern or New England accent are pretty funny too: what would you do if you were asked to lead your class “down yonder hill,” or if instructed to draw a picture of that cozy autumn ritual we know as a “barn fire?”

The worst thing I can remember was probably said by a student teacher in his late 20s Continue Reading »

46 Comments »

February 20th 2013
On the value of majoring in business, from Professors Truth and Biafra

Posted under American history & bad language & childhood & students

Take it from Shmuel Ellis—a business professor and administrator at Tel Aviv University (via Gawker):

Ellis said in his email that the business school recommends undecided undergraduate students choose disciplines like pure sciences, math, economics, psychology, computer science, history, literature, philosophy and architecture.

“Study of academic disciplines prepares students to think scientifically in these fields and form the foundation for advanced studies in graduate degree programs,” he said.

Lemme translate this biz-speak for all you non-biz majors out there: “Don’t major in business, major in a real field of study instead.” What is this guy, Sojourner Truth, Professor of Truth at Truth University? (Learn about who Sojourner Truth was, and what “truth” means, in real majors, like history or philosophy.)

Continue Reading »

7 Comments »

February 9th 2013
New ideas for running “team family” like a business! (Not.)

Posted under American history & childhood & jobs

Stressed out by your chaotic home life?  Why not “run your family like a business?”

Like many parents, the Starrs were trapped between the smooth-running household they aspired to have and the exhausting, earsplitting one they actually lived in. “I was trying the whole ‘love them and everything will work out’ philosophy,” she said, “but it wasn’t working. ‘For the love of God,’ I finally said, ‘I can’t take this any more.’ ”

What the Starrs did next was surprising. Instead of consulting relatives or friends, they looked to David’s workplace. They turned to a cutting-edge program called agile development that has rapidly spread from manufacturers in Japan to startups in Silicon Valley. It’s a system of group dynamics in which workers are organized into small teams, hold daily progress sessions and weekly reviews.

As David explained, “Having weekly family meetings increased communication, improved productivity, lowered stress and made everyone much happier to be part of the family team.”

When my wife and I adopted the agile blueprint in our own home, weekly family meetings with our then-5-year-old twin daughters quickly became the centerpiece around which we organized our family. The meetings transformed our relationships with our kids—and each other. And they took up less than 20 minutes a week.

What kind of disorganization and anomie are people living in these days that having a weekly family meeting seems like some kind of brilliant breakthrough?  (And, wow:  I guess the author of this article should get Dad of the Year for spending 20 minutes a week talking to his twins.)  Don’t miss the part in the article when the author discusses writing a “family mission statement.”  Hint:  these mission statements are just as full of business-speak flatulence as most business mission statements.

I don’t mean to brag, but we have a nightly family meeting we like to call dinner.  Continue Reading »

19 Comments »

January 25th 2013
DVR alert: Historiann in re-runs this weekend on C-SPAN 3.

Posted under American history & childhood & class & Gender & Intersectionality & local news & race & students & the body & women's history

I’ve been informed that my lecture on stays, material culture, and early American women’s history will air again this weekend on C-SPAN 3:  Saturday at 11:20 a.m., Sunday at 6:20 a.m. (for the after-hours crowd, I guess, or the extremely bored parents of insanely early-rising infants), and Monday morning at 7:20, EST.

Of course, the streaming video is still available, at any hour of the day or night that suits you.

For the real costume history junkies among you:  check out this video of a woman dressing another one in Ursuline choir nun habit.  (Follow that link, then click the link on the right side of the page under “Vidéos” that says, “L’habit religieux des Ursulines de Québec.”)  It’s in French, as it’s on a website assembled by Laval University in Québec, but even non-French speakers can get the gist.  Continue Reading »

9 Comments »

January 3rd 2013
A conversation with Chauncey DeVega about guns, masculinity, and the white violent crime epidemic; Gerda Lerner’s life and death; and why I’m okay with skipping the AHA (again!)

Posted under American history & childhood & class & conferences & European history & Gender & Intersectionality & race & women's history

Chauncey DeVega called me up a few weeks ago to talk about the Newtown murders, and in particular about the deep historical connection between white masculinity and firearms ownership.  We also talked about why Americans can have very different perceptions of physical safety, their own rights, and American history itself.  In any case, you can eavesdrop on our conversation: it’s available here at We Are Respectable Negroes and at the Daily Kos as well.  You can also access the interview here directly and either listen to it or download the mp3.  As you will hear, Chauncey is a very smart guy, and I struggled to keep up with him intellectually.  I had a great time, and will eagerly listen to all of the interviews he’s podcasting on his blog.

In other news:  Gerda Lerner, the pathbreaking women’s historian, died yesterday at age 92 (h/t to cgeye on the blog and Indyanna via a private e-mail for tipping me off.)  I for one am glad that her connection to Communism is right there on page 1 of her New York Times obituary–Betty Friedan might be rolling over in her grave about the prominent discussion of the CP, but can’t we be okay already with the truth of the historical connections between Communism and other mid-twentieth century Progressive movements like Civil Rights and feminism?  Continue Reading »

27 Comments »

December 26th 2012
Historiann, archived

Posted under American history & childhood & class & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & local news & race & students & the body & women's history

Hi, friends!  I hope you’re enjoying a lovely holiday and/or winter vacation.  Several of you have e-mailed me or left questions in the comments here on the blog about whether the lecture I recorded for C-SPAN, “A Pair of Stays,” would be archived or available as a podcast.  The answer to both questions is yes, so here are the relevant links:

 

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December 22nd 2012
Multi-media Weekend Round-up: The Holly and the Ivy and the Gunsmoke edition

Posted under American history & childhood & class & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & race & the body & unhappy endings & wankers & women's history

Well, friends, la famille Historiann has had a very good year and we have a lot to be grateful for, the first thing being that none of us was injured or killed by firearms.  I hope that all of you are happy and safe too, and that if you’re traveling, the winter snows blanketing the Rockies to the midwest aren’t causing you too much trouble or grief.  (We are envious–there were breathless reports of snowsnowsnow!!! coming last Wednesday, but here in Potterville, we got nuthin’ but a little dusting that blew away before noon.)

If you have a few spare (or sleepless) moments over the weekend, here’s a round-up of recent news and views that I thought you might find interesting:

  • Thank you, Jeffrey Toobin, for reminding us what a revanchist creep Robert Bork (1927-2012) actually was.  I was growing tired of reading all of the sanitized obituaries and the commentaries by so-called “liberals” who had deep, deep regrets about the way Bork was treated in his confirmation hearing.  You’d think a big, tough conservative guy like Bork would be glad to stand up for his pro-segregation, anti-Civil Rights, antifeminist writings and judicial record, wouldn’t you, and take whatever licking he got as a proud conservative?  According to Toobin, no recent SCOTUS nominee in recent years has so richly deserved a borking as Bork.
  • Paging Tenured Radical:  how ’bout a book club on Bork’s Slouching Towards Gomorrah (1996), like we did with Terry Castle’s The Professor?  It would be good for your history of modern conservativism courses, and fun for me.
  • Fiscal Cliff Notes:  Rutgers University historian Jennifer Mittlestadt writes that although many liberals may be rooting for the military spending cuts that will go into effect if we fall off the “fiscal cliff,” we need to look at the details hidden in the proposal:  “Folded into the current military spending cuts is a neoliberal agenda to privatize and outsource the retirement and health care benefits of military personnel and their families. Americans may consider these proposals of minimal concern, and of interest only to military personnel, veterans, and their families. But their implications reach far wider: they are part of a comprehensive neoliberal plan to privatize virtually all government social welfare programs and entitlements.”
  • Deconstructing white manhood:  Bloggers Werner Herzog’s Bear and MPG (“Unofficial thoughts about discrimination, racial sight, and race”) have some interesting contributions to make to a problem that Respectable Negro Chauncey DeVega has tried to highlight this week, too, given the demography of mass-murderers like Adam Lanza.  Continue Reading »

20 Comments »

December 20th 2012
The big reveal! Historiann has a face for C-SPAN 3.

Posted under American history & captivity & childhood & class & Gender & race & students & the body & women's history

You can see me lecturing to my HIST 358:  American Women’s History to 1800 students from this semester on the politics of early American women’s underwear (srsly!) on C-SPAN 3, American History TV, this weekend.  I’m on Saturday 8 p.m. EST/6 p.m. MST, again on Saturday at midnight/10 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m./11 a.m.  If (like me) you don’t get C-SPAN 3, it streams online over the weekend, too.  I also throw in some bits about the 600-year old bra, John Paul Gaultier, and Madonna into the lecture, just for laughs.

(Amazingly enough, there is a blog called Eighteenth-Century Stays, where you can see more photos like the one’s I’ve borrowed here, as well as other examples of both eighteenth- and seventeenth-century stays, with instructions for how to make them yourself.)

How did I get interested in early American undergarments, and why on earth do I think this is an appropriate subject for an undergraduate student lecture?  Continue Reading »

25 Comments »

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