Merry Christmas to those of you who keep the feast; to those of you who don’t, enjoy the short lines at the movies today! Although I am by faith a profane scoffer, I enjoy a little choral music at Christmas time, old-school style. 1441 style, that is: it helps me get in the mood to cook a turkey and toast some walnuts. Here’s the King’s College choir singing The Holly and the Ivy. Continue Reading »
Archive for the 'European history' Category
Here’s something amazing I learned from Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis, by Alice Kaplan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012). Apparently, even Susan Sontag struggled against an inner Disney Princess!
The X Factor
With two books in print, life went on–the more and more dazzling public life, the secret inner life. Life and work were tightly combined, yet under the pile of manuscripts, cultural outings, and intellectual connections was a constant buzz of worry, a struggle that preoccupied her throughout the winter months of 1960, in her daily existence with [her lover] Irene and her son David. She called it “X”–the overwhelming desire to please, to appease, to see oneself through other people’s reactions, to spare other people’s feelings, to care what they think. Women, she decided, were X; America itself, with its cult of popularity, was “a very Xy country.” “X is the scourge,” she wrote in February 1960: “How do I really cure myself of X?” She made lists of X situations, X feelings, X characteristics, and finally connected her personal problem to a concept in existential philosophy: “X is Sartre’s bad faith,” (125-26). Continue Reading »
From Alice Kaplan’s Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), pp. 41-42, a description of the some of the experiences of women in the Smith College junior year abroad program, ca. 1949-50:
At the Sorbonne itself, the experience of sitting in the “Grand amphi” set the tone. It was an auditorium complete with balconies and seats for a thousand students. The professor sat on a high stage, with statues and an enormous neoclassical mural as his backdrop. This was the ultimate theater of learning, grandiose and also slightly ridiculous, from the moment the professor walked onto his stage, accompanied by the traditional Sorbonne appariteur, a kind of classroom concierge in a dark suit, whose job was to announce the master and keep the blackboard wiped clean. Continue Reading »
Today’s example comes from Katherine Kersten, a fellow at something called the Center for the American Experiment in Crappy History. It’s a twist on the “Obama is not an American” theme so popular with anti-Obamaniacs these days. Big news, kids: President Barack Obama’s agenda is not rooted in Kenyan anti-colonialism. Instead, it’s rooted in Kaiserreich Germany! Behold:
Progressivism views the roles of citizen and state very differently than our founding fathers did. The founders anchored the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in three principles. They believed that human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inherent in nature and human dignity, and preexist the state. They believed that government should be limited, and that its primary purpose is to protect these rights. Finally, they crafted our Constitution to disperse power and curb its abuse through mechanisms such as checks and balances, and federalism.
As the 20th century opened, progressives like Woodrow Wilson — a former president of Princeton University — dismissed the Declaration and Constitution as outmoded. They insisted that America’s archaic political system was unsuited to solving the problems of a new industrial age. Ironically, however, they drew their own vision for perfecting democracy from a very undemocratic place: the imperial Germany of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.
Dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnn! Now, forget about some American intellectuals’ fascination with German education back in the 1870s for just a moment, a phenomenon to which Obama is only very, very distantly attached, to say the least. Did you see what she did with the so-called “Founding Fathers?” Continue Reading »
The early morning phone call (for North Americans)! The endless numbers of invitations to give lectures! Being taken seriously! There is no end to the inconvenience of having won a Nobel Prize, apparently. Doesn’t that make you feel better? I know it makes me feel better about my obscurity and mediocrity!
I like this guy:
“Frankly, I have no complaints whatsoever,” says Martin Veltman, a physics laureate at the Universities of Utrecht and Michigan. Veltman shared the 1999 prize with his former student, Gerard ‘t Hooft, for work that put the mathematics behind the Higgs boson on sound footing. But Veltman does raise an eyebrow at some of the other members of the Nobel club. “Sometimes I wonder about the other laureates,” he says. “In fact I have discovered the truth of a remark by [Enrico] Fermi. Someone asked him: ‘What have the Nobel prize winners in common? His answer: ‘Nothing, not even intelligence.’”
FYI, from the h-net job advertisement:
The Department of History at Colorado State University invites applications for the position of Assistant Professor of History, with a concentration in modern Britain (c. 1700 through the twentieth century, including the British Empire). This is an entry-level tenure-track position, beginning August 16, 2013. The successful candidate will be appointed untenured and at the rank of Assistant Professor. Required qualifications include Ph.D. in History at time of appointment; a demonstrated record of scholarship and promise of publication in area of concentration; a demonstrated record of teaching excellence; and a demonstrated ability to work effectively with faculty, students, and the public. Preferred qualifications include ability to place the history of the British Isles into a European and wider world context. Responsibilities include teaching undergraduate courses in the area of concentration and graduate courses in European history, as well as introductory-level survey course in Western Civilization or World History; pursuing research and publication projects; providing academic advising to undergraduate and graduate students; and fulfilling appropriate service assignments for the department, college, and university. Continue Reading »
ONE MORE TIME: If you are not a feminist (or something blamelessly ignorant, like a baby or a ferret or a college freshman), then you are a bad person. Those are the only options. You either believe that women are people, or you don’t. To help you pick one, here is some information!
First-Wave Feminism: Maybe We Could be Citizens now?
These were the tough old 19th-century bitchez (note: Calling women “bitchez” with an affectionate z is pretty upper-level ironic material—maybe just stick with “women” for now) like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who were all, “Heeeeeey bros, we were thinking that maybe if you’re not busy we could get the right to vote and stuff please maybe?” Then they proceeded to righteously fuck shit up until the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920, which gave American women the vote. A lot of the first-wavers were totally racist, plus they were still pretty into the idea that a woman’s job is shutting up and scrubbing stuff. But, you know, nobody’s perfect. Continue Reading »
Have you heard the one about the 600-year old bra? (Some of my bras only seem that old, but when I find a bra that works, I’m likely to wear it to shreds. Can any of you relate, or am I just about the laziest lingerie shopper in the universe?) This is a seriously cool discovery, one that I’m particularly interested in because I’ve developed something of a fascination with historical underwear. (I just gave a talk last month about the significance of stays in seventeenth and eighteenth-century North America.)
This discovery by Beatrix Nutz of the University of Innsbruck is important because historians of clothing have assumed that the brassiere was invented little more than a century ago, when aggressive corseting went out of style, and middle-class and elite American and European women were being encouraged (for the health of “the race”) to engage in sports and become more active. Corsets, which by the end of the nineteenth century severely limited one’s lung capacity, were not helpful when engaging in late Victorian and Edwardian-era fashionable sports, like tennis, bicycling, and croquet.
Some news organizations are also publishing photos of what looks like a 600-year old thong that was also part of the same cache of clothing. I’d love to read what you medievalists and/or fashion experts think about this, because I doubt that this article was worn in the way modern women wear underwear. My theory Continue Reading »
In a very smart and measured editorial last Sunday in the Denver Post, Professor Lloyd Burton of the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado, Denver, pointed out how language shapes our views of wildfires and forest management:
We have three problems with our narrative: First, it is an urban narrative applied to a mostly rural landscape; that is, it reports on [wildland-urban interface] wildfires as if they were urban fires. The initial focus is always on proximate causes (what ignited the fire), followed by a quest for fault-finding, usually around the issues of why the fire wasn’t immediately eradicated or why everyone may not have been moved out of harm’s way.
Applying the urban narrative to the WUI also stresses the necessity for the immediate and total suppression of all fires, whenever and wherever they arise. In the urban context, this is absolutely understandable. To do anything other than that would invite catastrophe in our densely populated cities. But applying this urban expectation to WUI wildfires is both futile and inappropriate.
A second problem is that the news media mindset and resulting language of its discourse is saturated in metaphors of war. We are treated daily to visuals of ex-military aircraft bombing fires and structures with toxic fire-retardant. We have strong, courageous, well-trained and well-disciplined “fighters” in the field being coordinated by a top-down incident command system; and we use many of the same communications technologies and terms to implement tactical field maneuvers. Continue Reading »
Well, friends, it’s the Saturday in-between the end of classes and the beginning of finals week, so I’ll be out in the garden weedin’ and grillin’ up a storm instead of in front of this computer screen for most of the day. I’m turning this blog over to smarter writers and bloggers than I, for your degustation:
- Tony Grafton reviewsAndrew Delbanco’s College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be. Of all of the recent books on what’s wrong with higher education, this one seemed to me to be among the most worthy. I’ve had Delbanco’s scholarship on my shelves since undergraduate days, and as he is a Columbia University faculty member he’s doesn’t blame the faculty for all of our current woes. Grafton finds Delbanco’s contribution stronger on the Was and Is parts than the Should Bes–in other words, a better history of higher ed and diagnosis of its current ills and perhaps weaker on prescriptive solutions, but it seems like getting the Was and Is parts right is a good enough reason to read it.
- Echidne reflects on the end of the Cold War, and concludes that without the atheistic communist foe, capitalism “has gone wild:” “It is ironic that communism was what kept the American type capitalism decent. Without that public enemy the nazguls are free to rob and ravage.” That’s the thing about the ultra-rich and their lapdog politician-servants: they’re not just greedy, they’re sore winners.
- Finally, the Big Dog takes on the Dog-Eared: Continue Reading »