Archive for the 'European history' Category

May 2nd 2012
Don’t be that guy

Posted under art & European history & fluff & Gender

Busy day–we’re still teaching classes here, with our dogforsaken 16-week semesters. But then, as Dr. Crazy noted yesterday, they end. (Finally!) And then, we begin all over again.

Don’t miss Dr. Crazy’s thoughts about teaching, and the myth that college professing is all about b!tching about teaching and cutting corners: Continue Reading »

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April 10th 2012
Torpedoing Titanic-mania

Posted under American history & European history & unhappy endings & weirdness

Does anyone else find the obsession with the sinking of the Titanic disturbing and distasteful?  Continue Reading »

29 Comments »

February 24th 2012
An artist, a neuroscientist, and a historian walk into a bar. . .

Posted under European history & the body

Or rather, they walk into a BBC interview studio–and they discuss the night from their different disciplinary perspectives.   Here are the results!

Do we manipulate the darkness, or does it manipulate us?

Oxford Professor of Circadian Neuroscience, Russell Foster, explains his research which shows how the blue-tinged sky of dusk is a trigger that tells our bodies it’s time to prepare for bed[, a]nd why it would be good for us to go back to rising with the dawn and going to bed at sundown.

Rut Blees Luxemburg finds surprising richness of night-time colours in her photographs, and historian Craig Koslofsky shows how early modern Europeans first colonised the night by introducing street lighting.

And most interstingly of all, Craig Koslofsky of the University of Illinois talks about his research for Evening’s Empire:  A History of the Night in Early Modern Europe.  If you just want to hear about the book, scroll ahead to about 32:15 in the podcast.  Continue Reading »

7 Comments »

February 23rd 2012
In which I explain my hairstyle to others on the basis of my submission to authority, or, let’s talk about hair and history.

Posted under American history & Bodily modification & European history & Gender & women's history

My hairstyle as worn by Jean Seberg

I’ve been thinking a lot about hair lately.  First, there was this comment from LouMac yesterday, in which she wrote (sarcastically, in a rant about “choice” feminism and the narrowness of straight women’s performance of gender) “Young white hetero women all have identical long straight hair because they choose it!”  Since most of you readers are affiliated with college and university campuses, you probably recognize this as the dominant hair aesthetic, too. 

I think there was a greater diversity of women’s hairstyles in Maoist China than there is among white college women today, but I have to admit that I went through my long-straight-hair phase too, in the early 1990s when I was poor and didn’t have money for luxuries like haircuts.  (The long-straight style has the virtue of being inexpensive to maintain if one has “good” hair.  African American women, some Jewish women, and others with curly or “bad” hair need at least regular blowouts, if not messy and dangerous hair-straightening perms too to achieve this look, so for some women it’s a very costly and time-consuming investment.)

Then back at Echidne, I found this link to something that she called Michelle Duggar’s “wifely tips for a happy marriage.”  Follow the links back that she provides, and eventually you’ll get to this PDF, “Seven Basic Needs of a Husband,” which includes a lengthy (and on the surface, strangely detailed) discussion of a wife’s hair and how it plays a primary role in a wife’s dutiful submission that is the foundation of all happy marriages, according to this document.  I’ve copied the document–with its strange quiz-like format as well as its odd typefaces, bolds, and use of ALL CAPS–as best I can here: Continue Reading »

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February 21st 2012
Great one-liners you’ll never see outside of the feminist blogosphere

Posted under American history & European history & Gender & wankers & weirdness

Echidne:  “Rick Santorum has the most open mind of the late twelfth century.”  Feel the Santormentum! 

I wish I were teaching the history of sexuality course this semester that I co-taught last semester.  I would really love to hear about my students’ reactions to fact that birth control has suddenly become a major campaign issue both in the Republican nomination fight and perhaps even in Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

I think it might underscore the argument I made to them towards the end of the class last term that my college years in the late 1980s and early 1990s were in fact a freer time sexually from a feminist standpoint than many young women today enjoy.  Continue Reading »

24 Comments »

January 13th 2012
The Tragical History Tour

Posted under art & European history & fluff

“It was not the strongest idea for a Rutles film: four Oxford History professors on a tour of tea shops in the Rutland area, and it was slammed mercilessly by the press.”


Source.

2 Comments »

December 16th 2011
It’s a Cold (War) Christmas

Posted under American history & art & European history & fluff

 

It’s a space race Cold War holiday season!  In Russian and English. Continue Reading »

21 Comments »

November 17th 2011
Francis Fukyuama: learns nothing, forgets nothing

Posted under American history & book reviews & European history & wankers & weirdness

Hey, kids:  don’t be Whig historians!  And especially avoid being Francis “The End of History” Fukuyama. 

Via RealClearBooks, we learned recently that he’s got a new book called The Origins of Political Order, and unsurprisingly, he is completely wrong again.  But you have to admit that it’s pretty cute that he has more in common with Karl Marx and with the first generation of Soviet historians than his modern peers because of his unshaken, dumba$$ theory of history’s inevitable destination.  Reviewer John Gray asks,

[H]ow could laws of history underpin human progress when views about what constitutes progress are so ephemeral and so divergent? Some human values are universal and enduring, but ideas of progress come and go like fashions in hats. Theories of convergence reflect disparate and incompatible ideals of human betterment. What all such theories have in common is that they have come to nothing. None of the regimes that was believed to be the near-inevitable end point of modern development has emerged anywhere in the world. 

Fukuyama shows no sign of being discouraged by this record of failure. Continue Reading »

14 Comments »

November 2nd 2011
An elegy for the apostrophe, and a defense thereof (in a manner of speakin’.)

Posted under American history & bad language & European history & jobs & students

Henry Hitchings suggests that my crusade to make students understand the correct use of the apostrophe may put me on the wrong side of history.  He says the apostrophe vexed printers and writers who were confused about its application almost from the time of its invention in the sixteenth century, through its proliferation in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century print culture:

[C]ontrary to what defenders of the apostrophe imagine, its status has long been moot.Before the seventeenth century the apostrophe was rare. The Parisian printer Geoffroy Tory promoted it in the 1520s, and it first appeared in an English text in 1559.

Initially the apostrophe was used to signify the omission of a sound. Gradually it came to signify possession. This possessive use was at first confined to the singular. However, writers were inconsistent in their placing of the punctuation mark, and in the eighteenth century, as print culture burgeoned, everything went haywire. Although it seemed natural to use an apostrophe in the possessive plural, authorities, such as the grammarian Robert Lowth, argued against this. In a volume entitled “Grammatical Institutes” (1760), John Ash went so far as to say that the possessive apostrophe “seems to have been introduced by mistake.”

By the time Ash was writing, the apostrophe was being used to form plurals.Among those who did this was the typographer Michael Mattaire. In a grammar he brought out in 1712 he suggested that the correct plural of species was species’s. Some rival grammarians could barely contain their rage in the face of such recommendations. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the experts (all self-appointed) urgently debated the mark’s correct application.

.       .       .       .       .       .

[H]ere’s the rub: say any of these names aloud and you’ll be struck by the fact that the apostrophe works on the eye rather than the ear. Simply put, we don’t hear apostrophes, and this is a significant factor accounting for the inconsistency with which they are used.  Continue Reading »

33 Comments »

October 12th 2011
Who’s killing the footnote?

Posted under American history & book reviews & European history & jobs & students & technoskepticism

Alexandra Horowitz blames e-books, but footnote-killing is a longstanding trend among non-virtual academic book publishers for at least twenty years.  Most university presses and tradey U-press lines use endnotes, period.  (And who other than university presses make such generous use of notes, anyway?  Nonfiction trade books usually offer the clumsy and much more paper-consumptive apparatus of citing sources by quoting the beginning of a sentence, followed by ellipses, and then listing the relevant sources.  Are tiny numbers on the page really all that distracting to the average reader?  Srsly?)   

My understanding was that the increase in paper costs nearly 20 years ago led most academic publishers to switch from footnotes (at the bottom of each page) to endnotes (at the back of the book.)  Somehow, I was informed, this saves paper.  I can remember the last time I read a book with footnotes–ironically, it was Anthony Grafton’s The Footnote:  A Curious History (1997), which I re-read with my graduate seminar a few weeks ago, and which for obvious reasons offers footnotes rather than endnotes.  (Horowitz’s exploration on the life and death of the footnote uses and cites Grafton generously, too.)  But I think when it was published 14 years ago, it was already exotic for having resisted a publisher’s insistence on endnotes.

My foremost concern about e-books–or perhaps more specifically with the Kindle, although I hope those of you in the know will inform me if this is true of other e-readers–is that it makes citations by students unnecessarily annoying.  Continue Reading »

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