Cliopatria: A Group Blog
Aaron Bady (∞); Chris Bray (∞); Brett Holman (∞); Jonathan Jarrett (∞); Robert KC Johnson (∞); Rachel Leow (∞); Ralph E. Luker (∞); Scott McLemee (∞); Claire B. Potter (∞); Jonathan T. Reynolds (∞)
"Item testicles of a live, male weasel, castrated by a woman, and wrapped in the skin of a goose or similar, avoids conception" (p. 168)."The Professor wonders what woman has been so desperate for pregnancy-free sex," writes PB,"that she attempted the castration of a live weasel. He suspects that the weasel might not be cooperative." This is really Hugo's area of expertise, but I had some additional questions: Must it be the woman who does the castrating? How is that different from ordinary human experience? Has PB not known of men to be so desperate for sex that they would castrate a live weasel? Were we preventing conception of future weasels or of little people? Can the goose be dead when you skin it? If you skin a live goose does that prevent conception of future little geese? What does the woman actually do with weasel testicles wrapped in goose skin to prevent conception? Where does she put the little bundle?
Update: Like a great Prof. Blogger, Prof. Blogger responds to all my questions. Like a slow student, I'm still assimilating all of this.
Tim Burke's"Welcoming New Arrivals to the Sekrit Clubhouse," Easily Distracted, 25 May, responds to the comment thread at Eszter Hagarty's"Isolated Social Networkers," Crooked Timber, 19 May. The subject? Our attitude toward those who come late to a new theory or field of knowledge. Tim's post is a good example of his generosity of spirit that makes me one of his great admirers. Every time we have one of our periodic academic donnybrooks, I keep meaning to ask myself"What would Tim Burke do?" But I keep doing what Ralph Luker does. Didn't St. Paul say something like that?
Do not miss Scott McLemee's"Listening to the Witness," Inside Higher Ed, 26 May. It is the second part of his look back on the life and thought of Paul Ricoeur. It is a great testament to the meaning of being and of having been a teacher, a professor.
I recommend Crooked Timber's discussion of"Academic Bestsellers." It's encouraging to see many fine works of history on the lists. What academic books would you most highly recommend? On a related question, at Political Animal, Kevin Drum asks a question we explored at Cliopatria several months ago: Excluding textbooks, what one volume history of the United States would you recommend? The question drew lots of interesting responses in discussion over there. Still, I gag at some of the suggestions (Schweikart and Allen's A Patriot's History of the United States or Wood's The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History) and turn up my nose at others (Johnson's A History of the American People and Zinn's A People's History of the United States). You may have other suggestions, but my own recommendation is: Hugh Brogan's The Penguin History of the United States of America. Other recommendations are welcomed in comments.
Scott Jaschik's"Academic Freedom or Intolerance of Faith?" Inside Higher Ed, 26 May, reports on the controversy over the chairman-elect of Brooklyn College's sociology department, which KC Johnson posted about here at Cliopatria.
Finally, I continue to be amazed at what some people will post on the net, even under cover of anonymity or pseudonymity. I got into trouble once for remarking about a female history blogger who posted photographs of herself hefting her bosoms at the camera's eye. In the last two months, we've had a similar situation of a young male history blogger. He speculated about the adequacy of his -- ah -- his male organ, complained about the lack of direction from his graduate school professors, and confessed to indiscretions with privileged information about his fellow graduate students. Such candor won him favor in some sectors of the blogosphere, but just within the last 24 hours acquaintances from his institution guessed his identity. Suddenly, his blog was no more.
[X-posted from The Little Professor, with a minor tweak.]
Remember, the History Carnival isn't just intended for academics; entries don't have to be particularly weighty or scholarly. But they should focus on things historical and employ reasonable standards of accuracy and fairness in the use of historical sources. (If you're uncertain, check out the carnival's homepage at the link above.)
The posts should have been published recently, certainly within the previous month, and preferably since the date of the last Carnival (15 May). You can submit multiple suggestions, but please try not to submit more than one post by any individual author for each Carnival (with the exception of multi-part posts on the same topic). You can submit your own work and/or that of other bloggers.
Email your nominations - your own blogwriting or that of other bloggers to me: sharon AT earlymodernweb DOT org DOT uk (replace AT with @, DOT with . and close up the spaces), by the end of Tuesday.
You should include in your email: the title and permalink URL of the blog post you wish to nominate and the author's name (or pseudonym) and the title of the blog.
2. You may also be interested in the Carnival of Bad History, which will be at Science and Politics on 31 May.
Have you seen lately an egregious example of miunderstanding or misuse of history? Was history botched in a movie or TV show you just saw? Was a book or article trying to rewrite history for artistic or political purposes? Does watching History Channel drive you crazy?
You have until 30 May to send submissions to: *coturnix1 AT aol DOT com* or *badhistory AT aol DOT com*.
And please pass on the word!
If you missed it over the weekend, both Rebecca Goetz and Stephen at Big Tent recommend"Blood Feud," Washington Post, 22 May. For Rebecca, the late 20th century story rang familiar with her 17th century research; and, yes, I've got a similar story to tell about Vernon Johns. Feuding over fences seems to have a long pedigree among Virginia farmers.
When my friend, Lauren Winner, the author of Girl Meets God, Mudhouse Sabbath, and Real Sex, comes under a severe attack like Astrid Storm's"Lauren Winner: Reformed Sinner or Canny Opportunist," at The Society of Mutual Autopsy, I'm happy to see my colleague, Hugo Schwyzer, coming to Lauren's defense. By the way, Lauren has recently launched her own contribution to the History Blogosphere.
One of the late effects of feminism has been renewed attention to the place of Mary in Christian theology. Recent discussions between Anglicans and Roman Catholics reached agreement that her immaculate conception and bodily ascension into heaven are not contrary to Scripture. Ted Olson's"Anglicans ‘Fudge' on Mary" at Christianity Today, 17 May, is consistent with Protestant insistence that doctrinal belief requires more than non-contradiction. Thanks to Manan Ahmed for the tip.
Finally, there are the first serious reflections on the death of Paul Ricoeur in Russell Arben Fox's"Thoughts on Ricoeur," In Media Res, 23 May; and Scott McLemee's"Remembering Paul Ricoeur," Inside Higher Ed, 24 May. There's also Nathanael Robinson's whimsical"A Ricoeurian License Plate," Rhine River, 22 May.
Interviews: Some people keep a sense of humor, even under pressures of the job market and a telephone interview. Another Damned Medievalist isn't sure that"I give good phone." Wolfangel suggests that she try not to giggle if she's naked during the telephone interview.
Tenure -- Con and Pro: Victor Davis Hanson,"Reconsidering Tenure," Private Papers, 16 May; and Thomas C. Reeves,"Why Conservatives Should Support Tenure," HNN, 23 May. Brother Reeves still hasn't learned to do links and even Victor Davis Hanson understands the interactive capacity of the net better than Reeves, but if you just want to see two old warhorses going at it as if no one else mattered, this is a debate for you.
- In the Face of History, the Search for a Just Memory (in French)
- A Supporter, an Inspiration (in French)
- Biography and Reaction (in French)
- Daniel Riot links to one of his last interviews.
- Entries from Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- Liberation looks at Ricoeur's accomplishments -- thanks, Ralph. (In French)
- Brandon at Siris points to this on-line chapter: "What Makes Us Think? A Neuroscientist and a Philosopher Argue about Ethics, Human Nature, and the Brain" by Changeux and Ricoeur. (Finally, something in English)
Added Monday, May 23:
- Mainstream Baptist gives a brief look at Ricoeur's influence on his dissertation in theology.
- Fido the Yak links to Ricoeur's speech from when he accepted the John W. Kluge Prize: Asserting Personal Capacities and Pleading for Recognition.
- Le Figaro finally gives its obituary. They also account for his involvement in 1968 and gives an interview of one of his students, Olivier Abel.
Elisabeth Carnell at another boring academic has a blog calls our attention to this Guardian article on the unveiling of England's oldest alterpiece, the 750 year old Westminister Retable. After a painstaking 20 year restoration effort, it is now on display at the National Gallery.
At Blogging Them Out of the Stone Age [War Historian at our blogroll on the right], our colleague, Mark Grimsley, is developing a theme,"A Good Day to Die." It begins with the well known photograph of the sit-in by John Salter, Joan Trumpauer, and Ann Moody in Jackson, Mississippi. A crowd of hostile white people is taunting and abusing them. You can pick up and follow the sequence of Mark's postings here.
As post-modernists, the Cliopatriarchs seem to be fairly evenly divided between Revisionist Historians and Theory Sluts, so I offer the following reports without prejudice:
Christopher Hitchens gives theorists in our English departments a rather sound thrashing in"Transgressing the Boundaries," New York Times, 22 May. To my mind, it's well earned, but that's no gossipy reflection on my slutty colleagues.
After the death of Paul Ricoeur, our colleague, Nathanael Robinson offered us a convenient net-bibliography here at Cliopatria. At Rhine River, he gives us"A Ricoeurian License Plate," a meditation on French Canada and historical memory.
Congratulations to The Weblog's Adam Kotsko. His translation of Jacques Derrida's"Literature in Secret: An Impossible Filiation" has been accepted by the University of Chicago Press for inclusion in a new edition of Derrida's The Gift of Death. If you must begin a doctoral program in the humanities these days, a publication by University of Chicago Press is a great beginning.
Both stories are worth reading, especially Meyer's. The nuclear option fight was a needless one, indicative of Bill Frist's shortcomings as majority leader, and at this point, however it comes out, it will leave lasting damage to the institution.
Out of a sense of reponsibility to my students (we didn't have a lot of available seats this last semester), my colleagues (we all use the same textbooks for the World History courses, and I hadn't used this one yet; I wanted to use it before we revisited the textbook question in the Fall, but it turns out we've ditched it already), and my family (the money's good), I am teaching a section of World History Since 1500 in the interim -- i.e. short -- summer session. This is a new experience for me: I haven't taught a 2¼ hours per day, 18-day course in five years; the last time I did this, I taught Japanese Poetry through the Ages, and it worked pretty well, but Japanese poetry is both short and highly repetitive....
I'm not as afraid of the course as you might think, since I've been teaching this particular stretch of human history for a half-dozen years now in a variety of configurations. It's over 40 contact hours (over 48 of those 50-minute"hours" by which we count course credits), which is the same as the regular semester. But it's a very different style of cognition: we think of these courses as lapidary accumulations of knowlege, carefully and slowly built up; this is more like bricklaying....."drinking from the fire hose" comes to mind, too. My students don't have time to think about what I said and what they read: it has to make sense the first time. On the other hand, they don't have time to forget, either: I can be reasonably confident that by the Friday quiz the stuff we talked about on Monday will still be reasonably present in their heads (and yes, the first quiz seems to be bearing this out, more or less).
The pacing, though the days are long, doesn't feel that different to me. I'm covering the same topics in more or less the same depth; maybe a bit less detail, but then I feel like I'm hitting the important stuff harder and it's more clearly in context. When you cover the age of exploration, Columbian Exchange, Imperialism and mercantilism, Reformation, Scientific Revolution and rise of absolutist and constitutionalist states in one week (as we just did), you get less of that disconnect that I often feel: it's all happening at the same time, and it's all in your head together. Next week I get to cover the Islamic Empires and Africa in one day, Japan and China up through the 18th centuries in two days (I'm an Asianist, after all), and then the American and French Revolutions, Napoleon and counter-revolution in two days. It sounds horrible, but for the purposes of this course -- basic familiarity with history, some understanding of historical issues, grasping the interrelated and global nature of history -- it's really going to be easier to make some of the points I want to make.
It's a terrible burden on the students, of course: pretty heavy reading load, and I'm forcing them to hand in homework to make sure they keep up. But I admit it up front, and I've made a good case for the importance of the homework they're doing (again, the quizzes I'm grading bear that out pretty well) in relation to the goals and grades of the course. I can use the homework to keep them involved in the lectures, and they've been pretty willing to ask questions, even very basic ones, when they didn't get something.
All things considered, it's going better than I feared, and almost as well as I'd hoped. I'm even thinking there's some virtue to structuring the process this way, and I've said for years that I didn't think regular history courses could be taught this way. We'll see how I feel about it next week!
Cliopatria wishes a speedy recovery to Michael Berube, who had an emergency appendectomy on Thursday, the 19th.
If you have the stomach for it, you ought to read Tim Golden,"In U. S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths," New York Times, 20 May. This is behavior beyond disgraceful.
Warren Hoge,"Swedes Dispute Translation of a U. N. Legend's Book," New York Times, 22 May, reports that knowledgeable Swedes have long believed that W. H. Auden's translation, Markings, of Dag Hammarskjold's memoir seriously distorted the diplomat's intentions.
Both Daily Kos and Instapundit are recommending that you act now to contact the Federal Elections Commission to comment on its proposed regulations of internet communications. The FEC needs to receive all comments by 3 June.
When a reader of the private listserv, H-AmStdy, asked for a short list of famous lost things for an article he is preparing, the suggestions ranged from the obvious (the manuscript of Phillis Wheatley's second book, Robert E. Lee's Special Order 191, the golden tablets on which the Book of Mormon was said to be inscribed) to the shocking (King Philip's crippled hand that was displayed in a jar of brandy in New England bars, his jaw that Cotton Mather is said to have pulled from his head when it was impaled on a pole in Salem, and Nat Turner's scrotum, which was said to have been made into a coin purse and displayed in the ante-bellum South).
Although she makes the common error of confusing the Industrial Workers of the World with the International Workers of the World, Dr. History reminds us that this is the centennial year of both the Industrial Workers of the World and Rotary. They were both founded in Chicago in 1905. Shouldn't there be a comparative study of working class and middle class organization in that coincidence?
Whether you are a"Star Wars" geek or not, you can enjoy the"Grocery Store Wars." Thanks to Josh Chafetz at Oxblog for the tip. But, speaking of grocery store wars, how about this museum spoof over at Barista? While you're there, he's got a great shot of a beautiful old horse-drawn omnibus and some good ideas for promotingaudiences for blogs.
This morning, I noticed several "hits" to my own blogsite coming from Obscenity Crimes, the anti-pornography arm of the conservative Morality in Media organization. Specifically, an article by Sharon Secor entitled New Lows in Higher Education linked to this March post of mine where I debated whether or not to offer a course on pornography.
Secor, in breathless prose, reports that American college campuses are filled with the decadent young who produce their own pornography, mentioning in particular Boink Magazine (link may offend some readers) which has just seen its second issue produced by students at Boston University. Secor suggests that the students are only following their professors' encouragement:
"That students are willing to participate in the production of pornography shouldn’t be too surprising in light of both our culture and the types of accredited college courses that have sprung up on campuses from coast to coast. Recent years have seen such offerings as the Wesleyan University class –discontinued after a public outcry – in which the final project, according to a May 8, 1999, Hartford Courant story by Eric Rich, required students to create their own work of pornography. An October 2001, Accuracy in Academia article by Joe Jablonski described a San Francisco State University course “which seeks to introduce them to the world of the Internet's sexual underground. Students actually learn how to navigate the underworld of cybersex and get a guided tour through the world of porn sites.”
What Secor doesn't mention is that most college classes that focus on pornography and erotica don't focus on viewing and creating explicit material. Rather, they focus on critical analyses of the historic and contemporary role of pornography in human culture, focusing on (depending on the instructor) a variety of different perspectives (feminist, Marxist, film studies, etcetera.) Lots of folks who teach these classes use texts like Lynn Hunt's magisterial The Invention of Pornography, 1500-1800: Obscenity and the Origins of Modernity. The human libido expresses itself in many and varied ways, but I've read Hunt cover to cover and I challenge anyone to find anything remotely arousing within its 400 pages. Yes, it fits Secor's agenda to pretend that these courses are taught by the irresponsible, the libertine, and the lecherous to the immature, the impressionable, and the horny. Alas, Ms. Secor, a review of the syllabi of most courses on pornography at the college and university levels will reveal oodles of theory and precious few "dirty pictures"!
Secor's article also touches on the growing number of sex columns appearing in college newspapers nationwide. She decries columns like Heather Grantham's "Cornellingus" (not hard to guess the Ivy League university in whose paper that appears), and points out that dozens of other colleges have had explicit "sex columns" for years. I'm told that UCSB, where my father taught for more than three decades, was the pioneer in this field with its "Wednesday Hump" column. (If any readers have contrary information, please provide.) My own Pasadena City College has entered the sex advice world as well this semester, with our new "Sexpert". (This week's topic: straight men and anal sex; some readers of this blog may not wish to click the link.)
By mixing together three only marginally related developments (the academic study of porn, student involvement in producing amateur pornography, and graphic advice columns in campus newspapers), Secor is failing to make some vital distinctions. There's a difference between teaching courses to educate, producing porn to titillate, and writing columns to infuriate! Though I am not, for the reasons I've given before, ready at this time to teach a class on pornography, I do think it a subject very much worth the time and attention of the academy, particularly from those of us who teach and write from a feminist perspective. As far as the student production of porn (e.g. Boink Magazine) is concerned, I think there's an enormous difference between erotica that is student-produced and distributed and porn that is produced by off-campus commercial entities using students as actors and performers. Agency matters a great deal, and students are, I think, far less likely to be the victims of commercial exploitation when they are in charge of all the artistic and production decisions. Of course, I see no reason why those students who do not wish to subsidize the creation of campus erotica ought to have to subsidize it with their fees.
As for the columns themselves, from what I can tell, they are a mixed bag. Few are genuinely educational. Most, and I think this certainly describes our own rather feeble effort at PCC, seem to be written more to infuriate conservative readers than to enlighten curious members of the student body! Given the ubiquitousness of thoughtful, sound advice on the Internet about sex, it's not as if many of today's college students are likely to become better lovers as a consequence of reading these columns. The raison d'etre in all of this seems to be the delight in tweaking the blue noses of the likes of Sharon Secor and Morality in Media. Developmentally, that makes sense; I expect 20 year-olds to take genuine pleasure in horrifying their elders.
I'm convinced that porn studies, as a field, will continue to grow. As pornography, in all its many and varied forms, continues to exert a powerful influence upon our culture, examining it is worth our professional time and our intellectual energy. As we continue to talk more and more about the subject, some students might well be inspired to produce their own pornography; others might just as well be inspired to campaign against the commercial sex industry. If I ever do teach a course on porn, I'll be scrupulous about attempting to observe the distinction between education and titillation, recognizing that different folks will perceive different material in different ways. But if some students do seek to produce their own erotic material, as an amateur and authentic counterbalance to the glut of commercialized pornography, I'm not sure that's such a bad thing. And if some want to infuriate and exasperate their elders with graphic columns in campus papers, those of us old enough to know a little better ought not to take the bait.
But the hits they keep on coming.
Of course, the First Amendment protects Shortell’s right to make such utterances. Nonetheless, that a majority (albeit a bare one) of professors considered a figure with such views a suitable candidate to lead their department is shameful. Shortell's website lists this 1993 Ph.D. having one peer-reviewed article (and no books) published since his coming to Brooklyn in 1998, so it's not as if Sociology voted for someone with academic heft.
In the late 1980s, City College’s African-American Studies Department embarrassed the institution by re-electing as its chairman Leonard Jeffries, who regularly denounced Jews in anti-Semitic language. To avoid another Jeffries fiasco, CUNY’s bylaws were changed to give college presidents authority to act in the best interests of the university and remove department chairs. As we recently saw in the Ward Churchill case, colleges and universities have an obligation to act when department chairs make statements that transparently contradict the academic mission of the institution.
One can imagine the outcry had Brooklyn’s Sociology Department elected a new chairman who had expressed the opposite views of Shortell—say, deeming atheists and agnostics “moral retards”; or comparing Donna Brazile to Stalin; or saying that an unintended positive consequence of the war in Iraq has been that it’s increased the death rate among American youth, who are more culturally liberal. Of course, it’s inconceivable that a professor who expressed such views would ever have been elected a department chairman.
Preventing public relations damage was not the only reason for the post-Jeffries Bylaws change. Under Brooklyn’s governing structure, department chairs shape the college’s personnel policies. At the start of the tenure process, chairs prepare a confidential report on each junior faculty candidate from their department, a document widely considered the single most important one in a junior professor’s tenure bid. Moreover, the final faculty vote on tenure at Brooklyn comes not at the department level but from the Committee on Promotion and Tenure—which consists of the college’s 31 department chairs. This vote technically is advisory, with the President and the Board of Trustees having the final say. But to my knowledge, in the 5.5-year reign of Brooklyn’s current president, Christoph M. Kimmich, the vote of the P+T has been overturned only four times. (Two of those occasions involved my tenure and promotion case, and a third was a direct fallout of my case, in spring 2003, after a Philosophy professor who disagreed with his department chairman in a search was denied reappointment for"uncollegiality.") So, for all practical purposes, Brooklyn’s chairs decide who gets tenure and who gets fired.
Viewed in this context, the Shortell election is highly alarming. Can a figure who has written that religious people are “moral retards” fairly evaluate the tenure candidacy of an Orthodox Jew? Can someone who has compared the nation’s top GOP strategist to a Nazi war criminal fairly evaluate the tenure candidacy of a junior professor who has commented favorably on the GOP? Can someone who has deemed the United States a “fascist” country fairly evaluate the tenure candidacy of an untenured colleague who has editorialized in favor of the Patriot Act? The shrillness of Shortell’s comments suggest not. After all, I doubt that, whatever their political views, many professors around the country believe that “moral retards” should get tenure.
Shortell has been a strong supporter of the current Brooklyn administration, whose chief academic officer, Roberta Matthews, operates under the written mantra that “teaching is a political act." It therefore came as little surprise that the college’s public spokesperson implied to the Sun that Kimmich does not plan to set aside Sociology’s election. But while the president might feel comfortable with a figure like Shortell serving in an administrative post and voting on the tenure candidacies of every junior professor at Brooklyn for the next three years, it’s unclear that the courts will feel the same way. I wish the college the best of luck in trying to prove that Shortell’s prejudicial views—and the administration’s failure to take corrective measures to safeguard untenured faculty who disagreed with Shortell—did not affect future tenure denials to junior professors who are openly religious or who are considered centrist or conservative on campus.
On 19 May in the year 2005 of the common era, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts repealed a law adopted in 1675 that banned the entry of native Americans into the city of Boston.
Sheila Brennan, who is an expert on museums and the internet, recommends this guide to 478 historical museums throughout the United States. Often, she says, the most important museums have a limited presence on the net. Here, she recommends seven on-line exhibits that are rich in content, interactive, user friendly, and give visitors a unique experience.
Hiram Hover has been following the case of Nichole Krogman, a senior American Studies major at Wells College. Found guilty of journalistic plagiarism by a college court last fall, Krogman was ordered to take a non-credit independent study in journalistic ethics this spring. When she failed to complete work for it on time, Krogman was told that she would not be allowed to take"incompletes" in two classes she was taking for credit and was subject to a year's suspension. She then issued a press release, charging that she was being punished for being the most visible conservative student at Wells, and secured the assistance of a local Republican attorney. Krogman's case has subsequently been taken up by the wingers at Free Republic, David Horowitz's Students for Academic Freedom, Hannity & Colmes at Fox News, and Morton Blackwell of the"Leadership Institute". Without acknowledging the little matter of plagiarism that led to this, they are demanding that Krogman be allowed to graduate with her class on 28 May. Sounds like another good case of David Horowitz b**l s**t to me!
Databases and bibliographies. The most copious online database is the Project Historische Roman, which allows you to search over 6700 German novels by author, title, and/or year. Unfortunately, if you're studying nineteenth-century British historical fiction, the best you can do online is Jonathan Nield's Best Historical Novels and Tales, archived at Project Gutenberg and various other sites. (The best guide to nineteenth-century historical fiction proper: Ernest Baker's Guide to Historical Fiction.) That being said, one can learn quite a bit by poking around in such essential resources as British Fiction 1800-29 (which includes reviews and publication histories), Corvey Women Writers on the Web (which covers work published between 1796 and 1834), and the Literary Encyclopedia. While it doesn't have a search function, British Juvenile Story Papers and Pocket Libraries Index includes many authors of children's historical tales in its listings. If you desperately need to find a nineteenth-century historical novel about Rome, head to Fictional Rome. Soon Y. Choi has a good, albeit sporadically annotated, master list of historical novelists. For e-texts, try Project Gutenberg, A Celebration of Women Writers, and Blackmask.
- Grace Aguilar (Anglo-Jewish novelist & one of the first Jewish popular theologians)
- Deborah Alcock (staunchly evangelical Protestant novelist, still popular in some fundamentalist circles; site reprints Elizabeth Boyd Bayly's 1914 biography)
- Lydia Maria Child (American abolitionist and activist)
- James Fenimore Cooper
- Alexandre Dumas (bilingual)
- Erckmann-Chatrian (in French)
- George Eliot
- G. A. Henty (article in the Guardian)
- Victor Hugo
- Charles Lever (Irish novelist)
- Captain Frederick Marryat (nautical fiction)
- Karl May (German novelist heavily influenced by Cooper)
- John Mason Neale (Anglo-Catholic fiction)
- Charles Reade
- Walter Scott Digital Archive (superbly done)
- Catherine Maria Sedgwick (Unitarian novelist)
- Joseph Henry Shorthouse (another Anglo-Catholic)
- Stanley John Weyman (swashbucklers)
- Charlotte Mary Yonge (prolific High Church Anglican)
Keith Stewart Thomson,"Dinosaurs as a Cultural Phenomenon,"American Scientist, May-June, is a fascinating piece on the modern pre-occupation with the dinosaur. Thanks to Dale Light of Light Seeking Light for the tip.
History Week at Slate continues, but David Greenberg's"That Barnesand Noble Dream," which I rather liked, is taking hits left and right or Left and Right on the lit crit blogs. See: Edward Champion at Return of the Reluctant and Kevin at Collected Miscellany.
Congratulations to Rebecca Goetz on her first academic publication:"General Artemas Ward: An American Revolutionary Remembered and Reinvented, 1800-1938," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, vol. 113, no. 1 (2003)."Yes, it is backdated," she says,"don't ask." But it's backdated only two years. In 1989, I published an article in the volume of a journal that is dated 1984. Just call it being precocious. Anyway, at (a)musings of a graduate student, Rebecca has lots of intriguing posts up about things like inter-racial fornication and such like in the 17th century Chesapeake Bay. Speaking of fornication, Dr. History wishes"Happy 45th Birthday to the Birth Control Pill." This is all a little kinky for me, but if it doesn't slake your thirst, David Noon's Axis of Evel Knieval has become Google's #1 site for"Albino Fetish".
History Week continues at Slate.
Shouldn't we have anticipated this? John F. Burns and Eric Schmidt,"Generals Offer a Sober Outlook on Iraqi War," New York Times, 19 May, offers a grim prospect."In interviews and briefings this week," say Burns and Schmidt,"some of the generals pulled back from recent suggestions, some by the same officers, that positive trends in Iraq could allow a major drawdown in the 138,000 American troops late this year or early in 2006. One officer suggested Wednesday that American military involvement could last ‘many years.'"
Most commencement speeches are best forgotten. George Will's"The Oddness of Everything" Newsweek, 23 May, is one that is best read and contemplated."America is currently awash in an unpleasant surplus of clanging, clashing certitudes," says Will."That is why there is a rhetorical bitterness absurdly disproportionate to our real differences. It has been well said that the spirit of liberty is the spirit of not being too sure that you are right. One way to immunize ourselves against misplaced certitude is to contemplate — even to savor — the unfathomable strangeness of everything, including ourselves." Thanks to Greg Lukianoff at The Fire for the tip.
Finally, some days it just doesn't pay to go to work. O. K., so the fence painting job was in Bethlehem, West Virginia, but is that any reason to think that a 1,500 lb. camel is going to sit in you?
As I suspected, my dear friend and fellow historian, Randal Jelks, is at the bottom of all this. Here, George W. Bush, the President of the United States, condescends to come to a small, evangelical college in Michigan and this up-start history professor gets up a petition in protest! He reminds me of another history professor, 30 years ago, who was the only untenured faculty member to sign the petition protesting his Pennsylvania college's award of an honorary degree to G. H. W. Bush. Well, that was me and it was probably one of the reasons that I was denied tenure. But, let me tell you about Randal Jelks.* He's one of the most interesting people I know. Randal is an African American, of course, but that's only the beginning of it. Jelks grew up in New Orleans, but – get this – he grew up in the Lutheran Church. Now, that's already a fairly complicated picture: a black Lutheran in New Orleans. He did his undergraduate work at an evangelical college, went to seminary, and was ordained. He did his doctorate at Michigan State and, then, he got mixed up with those Calvinists at Calvin College.
The Times also points out that Calvin College has been attacked by other evangelicals for its"drift" to the Left on issues like creationism, feminism, and homosexuality. Some drift! In a 2001 poll of the college faculty, 25% described themselves as politically liberal, 45% identified themselves as centrists, and 28% identified themselves as conservatives. I'd say that is a pretty healthy distribution of faculty opinion. What is especially important about the protest of my friend, Randal Jelks, and his colleagues at Calvin College is that it isn't based on political ideology. Randal says it all in the Times:
"We are a serious theological and intellectual school, and we try to have our students informed by thoughtful reflection about the concerns," said history professor Randall Jelks, who is rounding up signatures for the ad."We are not Lynchburg," he said, referring to the more conservative Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell."We are not right wing; we're not left wing. We think our faith trumps political ideology."Now, those evangelicals at Calvin College have also been known to lift a cup of cheer now and again. So, on this commencement day, I'm lifting my cup of cheer to my good friend, Randal Jelks, and those other evangelical rabble rousers in Grand Rapids.
* Among other things, I owe Randal for saving me from a mob of enraged little old white ladies in tennis shoes at The Citadel Conference a couple of years ago. According to them, I had been insufficiently appreciative of their moderate white heroes in race relations. Yes, I'm afraid that I did quote Revelation:"I will spew you out of my mouth, saith the Lord."
Labeling karate a tradition relieves it of the obligations of a rigorous historicity; or rather, it establishes a distinct set of historical expectations. The relationship between tradition and history is problematic: by definition, every tradition needs a history, for legitimacy is founded in part on a recounting of origins, yet history is the description of change across time, which threatens the validity of a tradition.I deal with martial arts history all the time: students who are current practitioners, or just consumers of popular culture, want to write papers and ask questions about it all the time. The main problem, as Colbeck notes, is the really weak quality of the pre-modern sources, leaving us with un-falsifiable myths; Colbeck's litany of questions which aren't really worth his time to answer about Karate is by itself worth the price of admission. His main conclusion, if I can distill it down without doing it great violence, is that Karate is as much of a modern invention as any martial art, at least the Japanese ones, all of which really are late-19c/early-20c inventions. It's much more interesting that I make it sound, and anyone interested in cultural essentialism (nationalism, cultural uniqueness, insider/outsider narratives) should spend the time to read Colbeck.