Taft is an interesting case–being fat certainly didn’t shorten his life (1857-1930) relative to those of his age peers. He lived to the ripe age of 72, when the average life expectancy for people born around 1860 was still in the low forties. (That’s a crude average that probably counts people who died in infancy and childhood, so it’s extraordinarily low. But still–his longevity was pretty impressive.) I’m sure his abstention from both drinking and smoking helps explain his lifespan. Here’s something equally impressive: he was not famous for telling people to “shut up” when they talk about issues that he himself has raised. How would that have sounded in a Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court? (Taft, like John Quincy Adams, went on to a post-presidential career that was more distinguished than his presidency.)
Archive for the 'class' Category
As most of you probably know, this year is The Feminine Mystique‘s fiftieth anniversary. For those of you who wonder why she wrote it, here’s a two-minute and 46-second explanation.
It’s worth seeing the whole video to get to the woman in diamonds and furs peeling potatoes at the end. Can you guess what’s on her head? (I kind of felt for the daschund in the jeweled toque.) The Pathé Fashion Archive is full of fascinating little timewasters–enjoy!
I finally had an opportunity to see Game Change, HBO’s fictionalized account of the John McCain campaign for president in in 2008 and his selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. It was really good! Although I was certainly not a McCain/Palin voter, even I was drawn into the drama of the campaign as Palin was selected and tested in various venues. And although it was certainly very critical of Palin’s preparedness for the job of Vice President, it was also sympathetic to her in that she realizes that she’s out of her depth. It portrays her as a very good small-town or small-state politician who knows she’s no policy wonk but who recognizes very quickly that she’s nevertheless the star of the 2008 campaign.
The movie does a smart job of invoking the particularly eventful campaign year of 2008, leading the viewer to understand why Palin was ever considered in the first place, and why she emerged victorious over other potential running mates. (Hint: her extreme abortion politics, which are not shared by the vast majority of prominent Republican women pols, were decisive–at least according to the script, which was based on the book by the same name by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.)
Game Change called to mind Tina Brown’s portrayal of Diana in her recent biography, The Diana Chronicles, in which a political naif is selected to play a starring role on the national and global stage. Continue Reading »
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find the story about the discovery and identification of Richard III’s remains just about the coolest historical and biomedical discovery since Thomas Jefferson’s DNA was found in Hemings family descendants back in the last century. It’s a terrific example as to how the historical and archaeological records are still viable and valuable in investigations like this. I’m sure my students in Life and Death in Early America will want to talk about this when we meet for class this week!
Speaking of death and early America: The Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture’s newsletter, Uncommon Sense, has published an online memorial to Alfred F. Young that includes links to reflections on his life and work from thirty different historians, including yours truly and several of this blog’s readers and commenters. Continue Reading »
NPR featured a story tonight about how poorly compensated home health care work is. Currently, they are not entitled either to the minimum wage nor to overtime pay. Most make between $8-10/hr., while the company that employs them pockets the $18/hr. payment from Medicare. Spokespersons for the home health-care industry were permitted to whinge and whine about the terrible hardship that a minimum wage and overtime requirements would put on their businesses.
The tone of the story tilted towards compassion for the workers and their clients, but they story’s historical perspective looked back only 40 years when I think a critical component of this story is the longue durée of this kind of low wage work, work that now (as in the past going back at least 500 years) is performed overwhelmingly by working-class women, and in the Americas for the most part, by black and brown-skinned working-class women.
Intimate body care has never been a well-compensated occupation. Continue Reading »
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 »
Via Inside Higher Ed, we learned yesterday that the National Association of “Scholars” has issued a report on the alleged dominance of race, class, and gender in American history survey classes at both the University of Texas at Austin and at Texas A&M University. Its analysis, called “Recasting History: Are Race, Class, and Gender Dominating American History?,” claims that vitally important topics in political, intellectual, and military history (for example) are being ignored because of professors’ insistence on elevating “RCG” topics above all others:
We found that all too often the course readings gave strong emphasis to race, class, or gender (RCG) social history, an emphasis so strong that it diminished the attention given to other subjects in American history (such as military, diplomatic, religious, intellectual history). The result is that these institutions frequently offered students a less-than-comprehensive picture of U.S. history, 5.
The report’s methodology, such as it is, is a laughably incomplete review of just course syllabi and web pages to determine faculty research interests in “RCG” topics, as the NAS calls it: “[W]e divided course readings and faculty interests into 11 broad content categories well established in the discipline,” 10. So, how do the course reading assignments in UT and TAMU American history courses break down? Here are their numbers, found on p. 16 in the report. I’ve taken the numbers from a chart and arranged the above topics in descending order in their appearance in course readings on syllabi: Continue Reading »
Retired Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy is taking aim at what he sees as knee-jerk support for marijuana legalization among his fellow liberals, in a project that carries special meaning for the self-confessed former oxycodone addict.
Kennedy, 45, a Democrat and younger son of Edward Kennedy, is leading a group called Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) that opposes legalization and seeks to rise above America’s culture war over pot.
The sense of entitlement boggles the mind: why would anyone find him a credible advocate? Or is this a case of the convert being more Catholic than the Pope, as it were? Continue Reading »
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 »
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:
- You can order up your own personal broadcast by clicking here, and then clicking the link under “video playlist.”
- You can also find the audio-only podcast on the C-SPAN website here.
- And finally, I’ve been told that it will be here for free on i-Tunes, but it doesn’t look like it’s been released yet.