Archive for the 'European history' Category

May 6th 2013
Monday round-up: endless semester edition

Posted under American history & art & bad language & book reviews & European history & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & race & the body & wankers & women's history

You’ve heard of The Endless Summer?  It sure seems to me like this is the Endless Semester.  Maybe it’s all of the snow and slush in April, but more than any other spring semester in recent memory, this one drags on and on.  While I’m desperately trying to lasso this semester and tie it up real good, here are some fun links and ideas to keep you diverted:

17 Comments »

April 30th 2013
Nominations are now open for Best Title Ever

Posted under American history & European history & fluff

First Sealord of the Admiralty probably gets my vote, but Supreme Allied Commander is pretty boss, too. (What does it say about me that I gravitate towards these European-oriented military offices and titles? Hmm.) Maybe I should just keep it simple and ask that people call me Citoyenne Historianne. (At least that’s a democratic civilian title, albeit rather European-sounding.)

What’s your pick for Best Title Ever?

41 Comments »

April 17th 2013
Wednesday round-up: What I saw at the OAH

Posted under American history & class & conferences & European history & Gender & GLBTQ & Intersectionality & jobs & race & the body

Attending a big conference like the Organization of American Historians is fun, especially when it’s in an pleasant place like San Francisco in the spring in mid-April.  What I do is so marginal to the OAH conference that I’ve got lots of free time to attend panels and hear how experts in other subfields talk about their work, explore the city with old friends, and go to parties!  Here are some observations and lessons learned, in no particular order:

  • No matter how big the conference, you will never see some people, and you will continue to run into the same people again and again.  Aside from the few early American feminists I kept running into at some of the same panels, over the course of three days every time I strolled through the hotel lobby or some of the other open spaces I saw either Roy Ritchie or Alice Kessler-Harris.  I also never saw a colleague of mine who was there the whole time–not even at a distance.
  • “Early America” now goes through most of the antebellum period, at least according to the OAH.  Stop fighting it, Historiann and others who specialize in anything before the nineteenth century!  I think I witnessed the single paper that included anything on the seventeenth century.  These are now like the Dodo–and not even in much greater evidence at conferences like the Omohundro Institute annual conference.  (Speaking of which:  did you hear that they cancelled their party scheduled for Friday night when they learned that they had booked it in a club that doesn’t offer membership to women?  Good for them, but that’s quite a huge loss on the party, in addition to what’s surely a major donor problem now.)
  • (Aside on the temporal issue:  I keep hearing that The Sixteenth Century Society is a fun group, and their understanding of the long sixteenth century is pretty long, from 1450 to 1660.  Your thoughts?  I was becoming kind of a semi-regular at the Western Society for French History and French Historical Studies, so I’m all for going European if that’s what it will take.)
  • My source inside the Journal of American History editorial board meeting said Continue Reading »

12 Comments »

April 8th 2013
Are you there, God? It’s Margaret.

Posted under European history & Gender & jobs & unhappy endings & women's history

A savage handbagging!

It’s a big day for women’s history today as we note the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  Here’s a roundup up some of the things I’ve seen on the non-peer reviewed interwebs:

  • Echidne weighs in on Mags:  “Thatcher was not a feminist, of course.  She is famous for openly disliking feminism, partly because she was blind to what feminism had given her:  The right to run for office, the right to vote.  She believed that her successes were based on nothing but her own talents and her own hard work.  Women’s concerns she brushed off like so much dandruff on the shoulders of her black suit. . . . So what is Thatcher’s legacy for women?  I would imagine that she would be angry at such a question.  Those women, always pestering her when she was nothing like them!  She was one of the boys, or at least a Smurfette among Smurfs.
  • Note:  when Echidne calls Mags a “Smurfette among Smurfs,” she’s not suggesting that her legacy is tiny or mockable.  She’s pointing out that there is only *one* Smurfette among a whole colony of Smurfs, and that Smurfettes therefore tend to spend a lot more time and energy defending their position in the boys’ club rather than opening the door to and making room for more Smurfettes.  Just so that we’re clear on that point. Continue Reading »

7 Comments »

February 12th 2013
Lose weight now the William Howard Taft way!

Posted under American history & class & European history & Gender & happy endings & jobs & women's history

Do you still have a stubborn few pounds to drop after the holidays?  Why not try the William Howard Taft diet?  He lost nearly seventy pounds on it.  Behold (via New York Magazine):

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.)

More fun Taft facts:  Did you know that he was the father of Helen Taft Manning, famed historian of the British Empire at Bryn Mawr College?  Continue Reading »

18 Comments »

February 7th 2013
Game Change

Posted under American history & class & European history & Gender & unhappy endings & women's history

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 »

10 Comments »

February 5th 2013
Life, death, and early America

Posted under American history & class & European history & students & the body & unhappy endings

Richard III’s skeleton, showing a massive skull fracture and evidence of corpse desecration.

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 »

5 Comments »

February 3rd 2013
Intimate body care: never a highly paid occupation

Posted under American history & class & European history & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & race & the body & women's history

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 »

26 Comments »

January 5th 2013
2012: the Year of the Asshole?

Posted under American history & bad language & book reviews & European history & fluff & Gender & the body

Some of you have probably heard of Geoffrey Nunberg’s Ascent of the A-word:  Assholism, the First Sixty Years (2012) because of his platform as the resident linguist for NPR’s Fresh Air.  A few weeks ago, we learned that Aaron James, a philosophy professor at the University of California, Irvine, published a book in 2012 called Assholes:  A Theory, and this article describing James’s book made me laugh out loud:

So what is an asshole, exactly? How is he (and assholes are almost always men) distinct from other types of social malefactors? Are assholes born that way, or is their boorishness culturally conditioned? What explains the spike in the asshole population?

James was at the beach when he began mulling those questions. “I was watching one of the usual miscreants surf by on a wave and thought, Gosh, he’s an asshole.” Not an intellectual breakthrough, he concedes, but his reaction had what he calls “cognitive content.” In other words, his statement was more than a mere expression of feeling. He started sketching a theory of assholes, refining his thinking at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, where he spent a year as a fellow in 2009.

Now here’s the part I really like as a historian.  James pushes beyond the linguist’s focus on the word to explore the history and philosophy of the asshole avant la lettre:

He consulted Rousseau (who, James notes, was something of an asshole himself on account of his shabby parenting skills), Hobbes (especially his views on the “Foole” who breaks the social contract), Kant (his notion of self-conceit in particular), and more-recent scholarship on psychopaths. He spoke with psychologists, lawyers, and anthropologists, all of whom suggested asshole reading lists. “There are a lot of similar characters studied in other disciplines, like the free rider or the amoralist or the cheater,” James says, calling his time at Stanford an “interdisciplinary education in asshole theory.”

James argues for a three-part definition of assholes that boils down to this: Continue Reading »

18 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 »

« Prev - Next »