But to me, at least — and, yes, I acknowledge I’m at the age where I’m losing the battle to keep up with technology — the negatives outweigh the positives. So much on Twitter is frivolous or self-promotional. It can bury you in information. Because people often use Twitter to react to events instantly, they can say some awfully stupid things, as Roddy White, the Atlanta Falcons receiver, did after the George Zimmerman verdict, suggesting in a tweet that the jurors “should go home and kill themselves.”
With its 140-character limit, Twitter exacerbates our society-wide attention deficit disorder: Nothing can be allowed to take more than a few seconds to write or read. [Paul] Kedrosky may prefer Twitter, but I really miss his thoughtful blog. I recently heard Dick Costolo, Twitter’s chief executive, bragging that the pope now has a Twitter account. Once, popes wrote encyclicals; now they tweet.
What I object to most of all is that, like other forms of social media, Twitter can be so hateful. It can bring out the worst in people, giving them license to tweet things they would never say in real life. Continue Reading »
Anna North nails it in this admirably brief but accurate analysis of the “women’s stories” peddled by the mainstream media:
These stories, in mainstream American media, tend to fall into certain categories. There are the ones about when women should get married. There are the ones about how women balance work and their children, told with no discussion of these women’s race or class, and with a strange disregard for the possibility that said children might also have fathers. And then there are the ones about hookup culture.
Hookup culture stories are extremely popular. The latest, Kate Taylor’s “Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too” sits as of this writing at the top of the New York Times’ most-emailed list. It is about women at Penn, but it is essentially the same story as this one about women at UNC, and though less overtly polemical, it is also essentially the same story as this and this and this. It’s not hard to see why these stories succeed: They are about very young women having lots of sex with multiple partners. They’re a lot like porn, except that instead of an orgasm you get a vague sense of free-floating anxiety. Continue Reading »
In a review of two recent novels that feature professor-student affairs, reviewer Michelle Dean asks where is the frank discussion of power? She writes,
The professor-student romance debate similarly breaks down, for the most part, to two opposing views. In one corner you have your Roiphes and your Paglias, who style themselves as revolutionaries for celebrating the power dynamics of the status quo. In the other you have feminists more aligned with Andrea Dworkin who seem to believe one can remove power from relationships entirely.
(Presumably, she meant to write instead “feminists more aligned with Andrea Dworkin who seem to believe one can’t remove power from relationships entirely. At least, I’ve never read a word of Dworkin to mean that there was any such thing as sexuality without power. This is a woman who was closely aligned with Catherine Mackinnon, the woman who wrote “man f^(ks woman, subject verb object.”)
So what do these new novelistic treatments of professor-student sexual relationships have to say about them? Continue Reading »
Thanks to your many fantastic suggestions way back at the beginning of the summer, I’ve finally made some decisions (and perhaps more importantly, submitted my book orders) for my fall 2013 Introduction to Historical Practice, which all of our incoming M.A. students must take. Here’s the book list I’ve settled on for my focus on “history scandals:”
- Michael Bellesiles, Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture (2000), either the Knopf original hardcover or paper editions or the 2003 Soft Skull Press edition.
- Contesting Archives: Finding Women in the Sources, eds. Nupur Chaudhuri, Sherry J. Katz, and Mary Elizabeth Perry (2010)
- Shelley Ruth Butler, Contested Representations: Revisiting Into the Heart of Africa (1999; 2007)
- Anthony Grafton, The Footnote: A Curious History (1997)
- Saidiya Hartman. Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (2008)
- Peter Hoffer, Past Imperfect: Facts, Fiction, Fraud—American History from Bancroft and Parkman to Ambrose, Bellesiles, Ellis, and Goodwin (2004)
- NEW–Ari Kelman, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek (2013)
- Bonnie G. Smith, The Gender of History: Men, Women, & Historical Practice, 2nd edition (2000)
- Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1997)
- Deborah Gray White, Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower (2008) Continue Reading »
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 »
I’ve just driven 2,615 miles over eight days, from Potterville to Minnesota and Wisconsin and back, and I have been wondering about the function of the insult “flat” that’s leveled against much, if not most, of the interior of the United States. After having driven across the prairie states of Nebraska (two different ways), Iowa, Minnesota (two different ways), Wisconsin (two different ways), South Dakota, and tagging Wyoming on the way back home, very little of the land we traversed could accurately be described as “flat.”
I once had a roommate in college who referred to me as a “flatlander” because I was a native of Ohio, one state west of us in Pennsylvania. Most of Ohio is, however, luxuriously green, lush, and hilly, sited as it is on the Ohio River and neighbor to the Appalachian Mountains. I started to wonder more about this descriptor “flat” as I drove from Ohio to Colorado on I-70 nearly a dozen years ago. I had dreaded the drive across Kansas especially because everyone in Ohio had sympathized with me about enduring “flat” Kansas. “It’s so flat,” they all said. But I-70 across Kansas in August, I found, was mostly lovely rolling green hills dotted with round hay bales and sunflower fields worthy of a Vincent VanGogh painting. Continue Reading »
The Assistant to the Associate Provost for Educational Attainment is a high-level, limited-term administrative assistant position that offers an opportunity for the right person to play an essential role in supporting educational innovation. The ideal candidate will value this unique opportunity for professional growth and development within a dynamic time and context, as the University focuses on student success initiatives and serves as the host campus for the Reinvention Center, a national consortium of research universities focused on supporting excellence and innovation in higher education.
Translation, anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Continue Reading »
File this post under reader and commenter Indyanna‘s notion that effective teaching can only be measured in the obituaries of our students. Via Echidne, we learn that in 1961, Phyllis Richman, writer and longtime restaurant critic at the Washington Post, applied to the graduate program in City and Regional Planning at Harvard’s School of Design . She received the following letter from Assistant Professor William A. Doebele, Jr., which read in part:
[O]ur experience, even with brilliant students, has been that married women find it difficult to carry out worthwhile careers in planning, and hence have a feeling of waste about the time and effort spent in professional education. (This is, of course, true of almost all graduate professional studies.)
Therefore, for your own benefit, and to aid us in coming to a decision [on your application], could you kindly write a page or two at your earliest convenience indicating specifically how you might plan to combine a professional life in city planning with your responsibilities to your husband and a possible future family?
I’m sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your letter from June 1961. As you predicted, I have been very busy. Recently, as I was cleaning out boxes of mementos, I came across your letter and realized that, even though we discussed it in person 52 years ago, I had never responded in writing.
In 1961 your letter left me down but not out. While women of my era had significant careers, many of them had to break through barriers to do so. Before your letter, it hadn’t occurred to me that marriage could hinder my acceptance at Harvard or my career. I was so discouraged by it that I don’t think I ever completed the application, yet I was too intimidated to contradict you when we met face to face.
At the time, I didn’t know how to begin writing the essay you requested. But now, two marriages, three children and a successful writing career allow me to, as you put it, “speak directly” to the concerns in your letter. Continue Reading »