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 (∞)
Cross-posted from Blog Them Out of the Stone Age
Continued from Part 1
I assume that, in the AHA/AMI joint session, Arthur Ekirch and Tyson Wilson presented in the same order as the eventual versions that appeared in Military Affairs. If so, Ekirch went first.
Ekirch, be it remembered, had just published The Civilian and the Military, subtitled A History of the American Antimilitarist Tradition -- with which tradition Ekirch seemed wholly in sympathy and which he regarded as having been pretty much the norm for most of American history. Antimilitarism was not, of course, synonymous with pacifism. Session moderator Richard C. Brown had reviewed the book for Military Affairs -- it would appear almost simultaneously with the session -- and he wrote:
The author defines the antimilitarist as one who accepts war and armies as a sometimes necessary evil, but regards a large military establishment and conscript armies, even when needed, as a threat to the preservation of civil institutions of government. . . . He finds that some of our wars, notably the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, were unpopular with many Americans because of our antimilitarist tradition. Much resistance to the Union and Confederate governments during the Civil War was motivated, he believes, by the force of this tradition. Similarly, he shows that our antimilitarist traditions have been responsible for the rapid demobilization of our military establishments at the close of each of our wars. [Military Affairs 20, no. 4 (Winter 1956), 231.]
But with the advent of the Cold War and its attendant policy of military containment, Ekirch saw the twilight of these antimilitarist traditions, and that misgiving permeated his AHA/AMI presentation.
Ekirch began with the observation,"Military history is flourishing," and pointed to a number of indications that this was the case. But, he added, military historians nevertheless displayed"a strange feeling of dissatisfaction" -- which I guess goes to show that this may be a congenital condition among military historians which, since it so far lacks a clinical name, I propose to call Bruscino's Complaint. Bruscino's Complaint evidently went back at least to the 1940s, for Ekirch quoted Gordon A. Craig on the subject, and the quote was arresting enough that I looked it up for myself. It's from Craig's essay on Hans Delbruck in Makers of Modern Strategy (1943):
The military historian has generally been a kind of misfit, regarded with suspicion by both his professional colleagues and by the military men whose activities he seeks to portray.
Ekirch stopped there, but the lines that follow underscore the fact the Bruscino's Complaint is not of recent vintage:
The suspicion of the miliary is not difficult to explain. It springs in large part from the natural scorn of the professional for the amateur. But the distrust with which academicians have looked on the military historians in their midst has deeper roots. In democratic countries especially, it arises from the belief that war is an aberration in the historical process and that, consequently, the study of war is neither fruitful nor seemly. [This prejudice] was felt . . . keenly, throughout his life, by Hans Delbruck. When, as a relatively young man, he turned his talents to the study of military history, he found that the members of his craft too often regarded his specialty as one not worthy of the energy he expended upon it. . . . In his last years, long after he won a secure position in academic circles, he lashed out once again in the pages of his World History at those who persisted in believing"that battles and wars can be regarded as unimportant by-products of world history." (qtd. 282-283)
Bruscino's Complaint was really Delbruck's Complaint.
The total wars of the twentieth century, however, demonstrated to Ekirch that"war can no longer be compartmentalized and shunted off from the main track of normal peaceful society." Military history had become part of the"total historical process." Ekirch regarded this development with disquiet. Narrowly based drums-and-trumpets military history might display much militaristic cheer-leading, but compartmentalized in its hobbyist ghetto, it was unlikely to do much harm.
What worried him was that a number of serious military historians"have added their voices to the chorus calling for a type of military history that is broad in scope and all-inclusive." If heeded, it meant"turning over to them most of our historical writing." As military history broadened its scope, Ekirch thought it would become in effect imperialistic. The sort of military history I advocate in Blog Them Out of the Stone Age would have struck Ekirch not as a needed maturing of the subject as an academic field, but as a potential disaster, and I imagine that he regarded its failure to achieve full-fledged academic sophistication and status to be something of a mercy. This is the paragraph with which he concludes his presentation:
I should like to add that contemporary military history, no matter how honest or scholarly, involves the danger that its very bulk, running the gamut from technical treatise to popular tract, and covering in subject matter affairs far removed from combat or battle history, may result in our literature, as well as our society, being further militarized. . . ." (54)
It’s unsurprising, of course, that the AAUP, an academic union itself, favors establishing more academic unions. But claiming that NYU’s policy violates “academic freedom” stretches the concept beyond recognition, and calls into question whether Joan Scott isn’t the only AAUP officer who seems unclear on academic freedom’s meaning. The report’s reasoning does not befit the AAUP’s (rapidly eroding) status as the conscience of the academy.
The committee made five principal arguments to justify its position:
1.) NYU’s action violated the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, since “among the fundamental rights enshrined in that document was the right to unionize,” to wit, Article 23: “Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests." By this logic, if kindergarten students—who are, after all, a subset of “everyone”—voted to unionize, the local public school would be compelled to recognize the union.
2.) Graduate employee unions are “appropriate to the Academy,” given that the University of Wisconsin, the University of Michigan, Rutgers University, the University of Toronto, and the University of California system all have graduate student unions; and the AAUP supports their establishment. Hundreds of graduate programs exist in the country. And because a small fraction of these programs (none of which are at private schools) have unions, NYU should do so?
3.) NYU’s actions violated AAUP policies, chiefly the 1970 guidelines, which declares that"graduate student assistants are to be informed in writing of the terms and conditions of their appointment and, in the event of proposed dismissal, are to be afforded access to a duly constituted hearing committee”; and the 1940 Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure, which identifies procedures for"the dismissal for cause of a teacher previous to the expiration of a term appointment." (Quotes from the AAUP committee report.) Both of these clauses use the word “dismissal.” Even though many graduate students refused to teach during the fall 2005 term, none were “dismissed.” Quite the opposite: NYU continued to pay them for not working. True, those who would not promise to actually show up and teach their classes were not hired for the spring 2006 term—hardly an unreasonable position from the University’s standpoint. Not hiring someone, however, is not the same as “dismissing” them.
4.) A majority of NYU graduate students voted in favor of forming a union. If a majority of NYU graduate students voted in favor of abolishing the institution’s language requirement and NYU refused to do so, would the institution still be guilty of violating AAUP policies?
5.) “The Wagner Act of 1935 gave employees the right to bargain collectively through ‘representatives of their own choosing.’” I realize that the AAUP represents an academy that seems to believe it’s perfectly acceptable for today’s college students to receive no instruction in the political and institutional history of their own country from people trained in the field. But the last time I looked, the Wagner Act established the NLRB to adjudicate disputes under the measure, and in this case, the NLRB held in favor of NYU. The AAUP might not have liked the NLRB’s ruling, but it’s hard for me to see how an AAUP committee could claim with a straight face that the Wagner Act justifies the report’s conclusions.
R. I. Moore,"A New Framework for European History," TLS, 15 February, reviews Chris Wickham's Framing the Early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean, 400 to 800 and Julia M. H. Smith's Europe After Rome: A New Cultural History, 500 to 1000. Remarkable what's happened to the"dark ages" in the last thirty years. Thanks to Manan Ahmed for the tip.
"Scholars Rate Worst Presidential Errors," USA Today, 18 February, reports the results of a survey conducted for this past weekend's"Presidential Moments" conference at the University of Louisville. The 10 worst mistakes, according to the survey:
•1: James Buchanan's failure to act to prevent Southern states from seceding prior to Lincoln's inauguration.
•2: Andrew Johnson's approach to Reconstruction, which favored quick reintegration of Southern states in the Union and opposed reforms beyond abolition of slavery.
•3: Lyndon Johnson's escalation of the war in Viet Nam.
•4: Woodrow Wilson's refusal to compromise on the Treaty of Versailles after World War I.
•5: Richard Nixon's involvement in the Watergate cover-up.
•6: James Madison's failure to keep the United States out of the War of 1812 with Britain.
•7: Thomas Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807, a self-imposed prohibition on trade with Europe during the Napoleonic Wars.
•8: John F. Kennedy allowing the Bay of Pigs Invasion that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
•9: Ronald Reagan and the Iran-Contra Affair, the effort to sell arms to Iran and use the money to finance an armed anti-communist group in Nicaragua.
•10: Bill Clinton's rendezvous with Monica Lewinsky.
Thanks to my virtual son, Chris Richardson, for the tip. Chris offers an alternative list of 10 presidential errors, but I do not endorse the title of his post,"Historians on Crack." All historians on crack are expected to report it in comments here, but there's gotta be a better explanation for our fuddled behavior and opinions!
This month's publication of A Godly Hero, his biography of William Jennings Bryan, has kept Michael Kazin busy. In addition to his"A Difficult Marriage: American Protestants and American Politics," Dissent, Winter 2006, see: Kazin,"The Other Bryan," American Prospect, 5 January; a subsequent debate about it between Kevin Mattson and Kazin,"Life of Bryan," American Prospect, 25 January; and his interview on"The Diane Rehm Show," 15 February. Thanks to Russell Arben Fox at In Media Res and Hiram Hover for the tips.
In"Burn, Bébé, Burn," Dissent, Winter 2006, Penn's Thomas Sugrue sees significant parallels between France's urban upheavals and America's"long, not summers."
Francis Fukuyama,"After Neoconservatism," New York Times, 19 February, is essential reading for charting a future in foreign policy.
During my fieldwork in Northern Nigeria, I had a knack for missing such ugliness, leaving just before outbreaks or returning after things had returned to a degree of normality (I've been less successful in dodging riots in the south). With every year, however, the cities where I lived and worked (particularly Kano and Kaduana) seemed to build up an ever-increasing store of tension. I remember Kadunda in 1995 simply seething with a sense of mutual distrust.
Such conflicts in Nigeria, though often reported simply as"religious conflicts," also have deep roots in ethnicity, colonial divisions, and economic power. Further, there can be no doubt that contemporary global politics are playing out amongst Nigerian communities. In a way, I'm struck by the comparison to the Cold War, wherein the US and Soviet Union often fought via proxies in Africa (or elsewhere). However, rather unlike the Cold War, which tended to be a sort of top-down phenomenon with governments and rebel groups choosing sides, this conflict is playing out more at the individual and community level, which makes it all the more nasty.
Perhaps the best insight into the dynamic of violence in Northern Nigeria is Douglas Anthony's Poison and Medicine: Ethnicity, Power, and Violence in a Nigerian City, 1966 to 1986. Doug didn't have my luck in missing out on the violence of the early 1990's, and his research does a better job than anyone elses that I know in offering an understanding of how the tensions built up over time.
Richard McGregor,"China's Great Wall: A Symbolic Separator," Financial Times, 17 February, reviews Julia Lovell's The Great Wall: China Against the World: 1000 BC to 2000 AD.
Robert Hughes,"Connoisseur of the Ordinary," The Guardian, 11 February. On the 400th anniversary of his birth and the eve of a major exhibit of his work in Amsterdam, Rembrandt's artistic accomplishment is re-assessed.
Francine Du Plessix Gray,"Vanderbilt Family Values," New York Times, 19 February, reviews Amanda MacKenzie Stewart's new, trans-Atlantic dual biography, Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: The Story of a Daughter and a Mother in the Gilded Age.
Christopher Hitchens,"Robert Conquest's realities and delusions," TLS, 15 February, reviews Conquest's The Dragons of Expectation: Reality and Delusion in the Course of History.
According to both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, members of the Harvard Corporation are consulting with members of the University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences in regard to tensions with President Lawrence Summers. A second vote of no confidence in him is scheduled within the FAS for 28 February.
NB: A note from Harvard suggests that Crimson headlines may be misleading.
The AHA has sent letters of protest to the departments of State and Homeland Security to protest the delays of a visa to Waskar Ari, a Georgetown University Ph.D. who is a member of the Aymara people of Bolivia. He taught recently at Western Michigan and published well, but his inability to get a visa has made it impossible for him to take up an appointment at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. AHA officials reject the security claims that have prevented the issuance of his visa.
Emory's historian of the Holocaust, Deborah Lipstadt, has agreed to be a judge in Israeli cartoonist Amatai Sandy's contest for the best anti-Semitic cartoon by a Jewish cartoonist. Thanks to Daniel Drezner, who's also volunteered to be a judge, for the tip.
"Denny's Comment-Card Archive Offers Glimpse at Decades of Poor, Fair, and Excellent Service," The Onion, 15 February, mocks our foibles. Can you imagine that? Who? Us? Foibles? Fetishes? You gotta be kidding. Thanks to Rebecca Goetz for the tip.
Shooting executives department: On 11 July 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr shot and killed former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Less than two years later, on 30 May 1806, future President Andrew Jackson shot and killed Charles Dickinson in a duel over a gambling debt. Two hundred years later, shortly after the Vice President of the United States wounded a friend in a hunting accident, Dean Barnett's"Godfather of Democracy," Weekly Standard, 17 February, reviews H. W. Brands' new biography, Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times, and recommends Old Hickory to us as a model of national leadership.
Alternate History department: Kevin C. Murphy gives a thumbs-up to Spike Lee's and Kevin Wilmot's new satire documentary, C. S. A.: The Confederate States of America. Here's the trailer for it. By contrast, Murphy gives Philip Roth's The Plot Against Americaa thumbs down. In order to work, alternate histories have to walk a nimble line between what did happen and what might have happened. Roth stumbles, says Murphy, where Lee and Wilmot succeed.
Yale department: Yotam Barkai,"Search for Scholar Spotlights Politics in Classroom," Yale Herald, 17 February. A student weekly newspaper at Yale reports that Juan Cole of the University of Michigan is under consideration for an interdisciplinary appointment at the Yale Center for International and Area Studies.
Congratulations department: To Sharon Howard, whose Early Modern Notes has just been named Best Expert or Scholar Weblog in A Fistful of Euros' European Blog Awards! We already knew it was, but it's great to see other people recognizing that.
As Marty Peretz notes, the Perot phenomenon seems to benefit the GOP, but in Slate, Mickey Kaus proposes a Democratic alternative: run in 2008 on a campaign slogan of"Return to Normalcy." The central premise of the proposal:"Bush has stretched the military, the Constitution and the civility of our politics to the limit in reaction to the threat of future 9/11s."
Given the margin of victory enjoyed by the last candidate to run on such a slogan, Kaus might be onto something. There are some similarities between Bush and Wilson, in that both abused constitutional norms in pursuit of national security and governed in highly partisan fashions. One big difference, though: WW was repudiated by the Senate with the defeat of Versailles, but the Dems nonetheless nominated a strongly pro-Wilson ticket. Bush is unlikely to experience such a complete repudiation, nor is it clear that the GOP 2008 ticket will consist of Bush acolytes.
Friday is the 150th year of the death of Heinrich Heine. Perhaps the greatest German poet after Goethe, he died in exile in Paris. It was an inauspicious beginning to German nationalism's relationship with his legacy. Few were willing to embrace him as a poet of national import. He was seen as an outsider, who wrote beautifully in the Germany language (especially as the poet behind Robert Schumann's Dichterliebe), but no German. Even his hometown, Dusseldorf, took a long time before it embraced his legacy, and then with some embarrassment.
[Crossposted to The Rhine River.]
Heine (along with Rahel Varnhagen and Fanny Lewald) seemed to represent the ability of German Jews to cast off the burden of the Ancien Regime and move freely through civil society (whereas the truth was probably closer to Heine's friend Karl Marx.) Although he converted to Protestantism, Heine's literature reveals an ongoing affinity for Jewish traditions. Indeed, he contributed to the translation of Jewish narratives into European literary conventions. Some would see his conversion (like so many others) as more of a ticket to social and political freedom rather than an expression of conviction.
Heine was also a German nationalist--at least the idealist type that abounded during"Springtime of Peoples." The striving of the people for liberty, not the hegemony of states, would bring about Germany. Because of his political idealism, he was forced into exile in France, wherefrom he continued his literary career. The poetic cycle, Deutschland, was a return trip to Hamburg, and along the way he witnesses the stifling of German creativity and universal rights under Prussian authority.
His vision of Germany conflicted with those who saw unification as a valorization of ethnicity and power. When he was censored by the federal council of the German Confederation, he wrote a short extract positioning Junge Deutschland (Young Germany) against the hegemony of the state:
"Allow me to point out to you, that you either know what Junge Deutschland is, or you know what the Hegelian school is."
In the same work he wrote something curious. Addressing a charge made by critics, he said,
He claims that we are all Jews, even if no one from Junge Deutschland is acquainted with the Cult of Moses and also no one, with the exception of your obedient servant, carries a drop of this glorious blood ... .
Without shame for his heritage, Heine acknowledged the problem of ethnicity and nationality as nationalism evolved. (Quotes are translated, poorly, by me.) But what he said boldly turned into an apology for his participation in discussion about German nationalism. After the unification of Germany in the kleindeutsch model and the National Liberals conversion to Bismarckian notions of statecraft, Heine (and people who thought like him) became decidely un-German. As Jost Hermand has put it,
The post-1871 German nationalists saw in Heine only an immoral wag, a spineless scribbler without any sense of German nationalist virtues, virtues easily summed up in terms such as homeland, the German temperment, depth of soul, inwardness, a sense of community, comradeship, solidarity. For them, Heine was mrerely an exponent of Western liberalism, a doctine that in their eyes was based on vices of egoism, sensualism, and gossip mongering.
It's not surprising that after WWII, Germans would grasp at Heine as they searched for democratic roots on which to rebuild their society. But the tension between ethnicity and nationality still exists. It is difficult for Turks, for instance, to speak about social and cultural problems without referencing their exteriority. The expression of identity can still be an acknowledgement of having an uncertain position in society.Blog posts on Heine
- History of Heinrich Heine
- 150 Years without Heinrich Heine (in German)
- On the Bebelplatz Portal in Berlin, which bears a Heine quote as an insciption:"He who burns books, will burn people in the end."
- Er ist eine matte Fliege und besingt Maikäfer (on Heine's misrepresentation of Karl Mayer, in Die Welt)
- Kulturkampfe mit Heine (great article on using Heine on whether Germans can be patriotic, in the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger)
- Wikipedia bio
- Jewish Encyclopedia bio
- Literary Encyclopedia bio
- Heinrich Heine Portal (University of Trier)
On March 23, 2004, a young historian announced that she would take down her blog, Invisible Adjunct."Gentle Readers," she explained,A few months ago, I made a vow to myself that this would be my last semester as an invisible adjunct. Since I've failed to secure a full-time position in my final attempt at the academic job market, what this means, of course, is that I made a vow to leave the academy. Six more weeks of teaching, and I head for the nearest exit.
Many readers greeted this decision with dismay. Invisible Adjunct had won a wide readership with entries couched in precise and elegant prose, discussions conducted with a high degree of civility, a sense of humor that no experience, however depressing, could quite extinguish—and a sharp eye for the foibles and vanities of established historians.
In her mirror, I felt, I saw myself and other senior scholars from a new angle—and one I didn't like very much. For Invisible Adjunct devoted much of her space to arguing that senior historians have played an academic con game with their best students. They—we—portray history to vulnerable undergraduates as an intense, engrossing discipline. They—we—encourage particularly bright and engaged students to study for doctorates. Then they—we—fail, as we knew we would, to find tenure-track jobs for most of them, leaving them to scramble for adjunct positions in which they became, as she explained, largely invisible to colleagues and staff, even when students depended on them. The doctoral degree in history, as Invisible Adjunct and some of her favorite fellow bloggers, like Erin O'Connor and Timothy Burke, portrayed it, seems less a form of higher education than an attractive nuisance, an intellectual Greenland.
The substance of Grafton's article is a call for graduate programs in history to offer prospective students specific data about the progress of their doctoral students toward the degree and the job placement of their young historians. Then, he reviews the websites of over three dozen graduate programs in history, with an eye to the degree to which they forewarn prospective students about what has happened with recent graduate students in their departments. It's good to know that Invisible Adjunct's voice is heard in high offices at the AHA.
There are now about 167 doctoral programs in history in the United States. If history were a more disciplined field of study ..., if there weren't reasons, apart from vocational choice, for studying it ..., if there weren't opportunities outside of teaching at collegiate levels and teaching altogether ..., there's a good case to be made that the United States ought not have more than 50 doctoral programs in history and another 100 or so master's degree programs. But none of those provisos prevail. Given all of that, it's imperative that graduate programs in history be fully candid with prospective students and that those students be well informed. Let the buyer beware.
So far the religious blogosphere has treated these matters as essentially political in nature: on the one hand, a Republican vendetta against the Pasadena church; on the other, mere"sour grapes" on the part of liberal churches not in sympathy with the goals of the conservative evangelical churches.
But as an historian, I'm curious to know about the origins of the prohibition on electioneering activity by non-profit organizations (I have read that it came at the initiative of Sen. Lyndon Johnson in the mid-1950s, but have not confirmed that). I'm also curious to know whether, during the Civil Rights era, instances arose in which the non-profit status of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and various anti-segregation churches was challenged because of voter registration drives. If similar guidelines existed in the 1960s, were civil rights-oriented churches careful to observe them, and/or did segregationists level charges of non-compliance as a cudgel with which to beat them?
Any information and insights would be appreciated. You'll find several posts on the Ohio clergy's IRS complaint at my kinder, gentler--and certainly not military--blog, Radical Civility.
UPDATE, February 16, 11:39 p.m. From the OMB Watch (that is, Office of Management and Budget Watch) web site:
Religious, charitable, educational and scientific organizations have been tax-exempt since 1913, although no political activity parameters were included in the first exemption statues. In 1954, however, Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson (D-TX) added the"express prohibition" on political campaign activity—without the benefit of hearings, testimony, or comment from affected organizations during Senate floor debate on the Internal Revenue Code. The amendment prohibits 501(c)(3) organizations from"participat[ing] in, or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office." The law was eventually applied to churches and now includes all 501(c)(3) organizations.
The genesis of Johnson's desire to reduce 501(c)(3) participation in elections reportedly stems from the great effect nonprofits had in campaigning against him,"by producing Red-baiting radio shows, television programs and millions of pieces of literature”; however, committee records demonstrate a general congressional mood towards increased regulation of nonprofit speech.
Many of the Renaissance printers who played an important role in the advance of printing were also accomplished musicians, composers and arrangers, and used the new printing process developed by Gutenberg and others to publish and distribute music. This was the first stages of music being made widely available to the public.
The spread of instrumental and vocal music during the Renaissance was in large part due to a number of enterprising music printers, many of whom were active musicians and composers and played a direct role in arranging the pieces which they published.
There's an interesting excerpt,"Sense and Segregation," in the current Chronicle of Higher Education from the new book, How Race is Made: Slavery, Segregation, and the Senses, by the University of South Carolina's Mark M. Smith. He argues that race was constructed in America by sensory perceptions. We thought we could know racial differences by sight, smell, sound, and touch.
Jean Baudrillard,"The Pyres of Autumn," New Left Review, January/February 2006, argues that the disintegration of France and of Europe is palpable. Thanks to Matt Christy at Pas-au-dela and Nathanael Robinson at Rhine River for the tip.
Mark Benjamin,"The Abu Ghraib Files," Salon, 16 February, presents additional newly released photographs of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. Warning: viewer discretion is advised. The images are offensive.
George Will,"No Checks, Many Imbalances," Washington Post, 16 February, makes palpable the conservatives' argument against the Bush administration's interpretation of its war powers.
Despite copious rhetoric about promoting “excellence” and “quality” in providing a “21st century” education, the AAC&U made perfectly clear its intended audience: at a conference with dozens of sessions, panelists from three low-quality but AAC&U-oriented schools (Evergreen State, Cal. St.-Monterey Bay, and IUPUI) more than doubled the combined number of presenters from the eight Ivy League institutions, Cal.-Berkeley, Stanford, and the University of Chicago. (Two-thirds of those from the latter group came from Columbia’s Teachers’ College.) The AAC&U’s fundamental agenda—shifting the emphases of a college education away from instruction in the traditional disciplines of the liberal arts toward a focus on “skills,” and infusing the resulting courses with content designed to purge lower- and middle-class (white) students of their allegedly intrinsic racism and sexism—has no chance of adoption by any school in which parents or alumni play an active role. So the group targets middle and lower-tier, mostly public, colleges and universities. To date, around 20 colleges follow most of the AAC&U line, while the organization has some influence over the policies of perhaps 30 or 40 more schools.
Around a third of the conference panels (such as important one, by several people from CUNY, on how the “integrated university” concept has improved the opportunity for all CUNY students to receive a quality general education) represent the type of fare you would expect at any conference of a major higher education organization. The remainder, however, dealt with themes more central to the AAC&U’s approach.
The group’s elitism occasionally yielded unintentionally hilarious proposals. One of this year’s sessions, for instance, described “nutrition”(!) as among the “topics that often divide us.” Panelists intoned that all colleges must explore the nutrition issue, along with questions such as religion, philosophy, and human rights, because “nothing less than global dignity is the natural and logical end of liberal education.” Another panel urged abandoning the “variations on the teacher/scholar theme” seen in “visions of excellence emerging from ancient Athens and late 19th century Berlin.” To where should the academy look for a new conception of quality? Los Angeles!! (Or"L.A.," as the session description coolly notes.) With such an approach, attendees learned, “new, more capacious visions of scholarly excellence will be required.” Right.
Most of the sessions, however, were far less amusing. The AAC&U has consistently sought to blur the line between the faculty and support and co-curricular staff. And so a panel entitled “Collaborating for Excellence” discussed achieving “transformative learning” by creating “intentional partnerships” between the faculty and offices of student life/affairs. Any quick glance through Kors and Silverglate’s Shadow University will reveal the one-sided, heavily ideological orientation of student life offices. Giving such bodies any curricular role—much less a significant one—is deeply dangerous. Along similar lines, the AAC&U regularly promotes “service learning,” which one conference panel termed critical to fostering among students “essential dispositions, ways of thinking, and skills.” “Dispositions,” of course, is an important code word in itself, and while volunteer work is wonderful, surely course credits are more important. The recommendation of yet another panel that service learning become “a defining characteristic of higher education’s mission” represents a step in the wrong direction.
A second AAC&U focus is a war on the culture of academic research. The 2004 conference devoted a session to strategies for administrators in dealing with those tenured faculty members who defined academic merit through demonstrated skills as researchers or lecturers. Such a demand, one session noted, presented “barriers to realizing the benefits of inclusive excellence.” The theme received prominent play this year as well. One session worried about a personnel system that “rewards individual faculty performance” in research, rather than professors’ ability to structure courses “which are more collaboratively designed.” Another panel advocated “new pathways to tenure,” moving beyond evaluations based on “research, teaching, and service.” To what? Collegiality?
Third, AAC&U programs have consistently implied that “diversity” is incompatible with U.S. democracy as traditionally defined. (Association publications always describe as their goal fostering a “diverse democracy,” rather than a democracy; one session at this year’s conference suggested that the contemporary United States was a “would-be democracy.”) Along these lines, the organization urges colleges to foster not American but “global” civic ideals—such as combating the “continuing Eurocentric intellectual tradition,” or redefining globalization to support “empowering individuals, especially those who are non-western and non-white.” Public universities still rely on some taxpayer funds. Does anyone believe that even one state legislature appropriates moneys under the belief that their state’s colleges and universities will adopt such goals as central?
Fourth, along the lines of the ABA diversity resolution passed last weekend, the AAC&U has been at the forefront of efforts to blur the distinction Justice O’Connor made in the 2003 Michigan decisions—in which Gratz outlawed the use of racial quotas while Grutter upheld race-based admissions in the name of “diversity.” Groups such as the AAC&U have responded not by heeding O’Connor’s wish that higher education move beyond race-based admissions by 2028 but instead by attempting to institutionalize “diversity” as a central academic goal. (Indeed, AAC&U rhetoric strongly suggests that “diversity” should be the preeminent academic goal of colleges.) Such a strategy would require indefinitely retaining race-based admissions, since without them the rationale for a college education would vanish. One panel, which included Michigan’s senior vice-provost, urged AAC&U members to do more to “integrate diversity and quality initiatives on campus, so that diversity becomes an integral aspect of all students’ learning.” Another group, composed of several AAC&U senior officers, was even more blunt: in the “‘post-Michigan’ educational environment,” campuses should “connect their educational quality and inclusion efforts more fundamentally and comprehensively than ever before.” Therefore, colleges needed to show the courts how “diversity, as a component of academic excellence, is essential to higher education’s continuing relevance in the twenty-first century.”
In only one respect did the 2006 AAC&U conference depart from its customary pattern. In past years, the organization has been coy about overtly conceding its ideological motives, preferring to operate by stealth through coded phrases. Not so in 2006. Panel after panel demanded reorienting college curricula around promotion of “social justice”—an inherently political concept that has caused enormous problems when applied at Education schools. As applied at most of the two dozen or so institutions that have established programs in the field, “global studies” has been nothing more than a forum for professors to structure classes around their political beliefs. A session on the topic, entitled “The Politics of Interdisciplinary Engagement,” asked such loaded questions as, “Can or should faculty try to maintain political neutrality in the classroom? How can students learn what is involved in global citizenship without examining their geopolitical positions in the world?” A panel from the University of Southern Maine proclaimed that “neutrality's just another word,” since “advocacy and academic freedom” go hand-in-hand in the classroom at their institution, which defines its curricular goals as “an extended inquiry into democracy, sustainability, justice, and difference.” The panel asked, “Does the obligation to protect free and open debate demand a stance of neutrality? Or does it call us to model the passionate commitments and thoughtful engagement we hope to foster in our students?”
It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to determine which option conference attendees preferred. To borrow words from a perceptive movie review by Leon Wieseltier, the AAC&U “asks its questions in ways that make its preferred answers perfectly clear.”
The recent laments about the stepchild status of academic military history have spurred me toward a project I've had in the back of my mind for some time: an historiographical review of the field. Through the miracle of blogging, I'm not obliged to present this in linear order. Nevertheless, my point of departure occurs fairly early--almost fifty years ago in fact--when historians Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr. and Tyson Wilson squared off at a joint session of the American Historical Association and the American Military Institute (the forerunner of the Society for Military History). The session, entitled"Military History: Pro and Con," took place at the annual meeting of the AHA on December 30, 1956, somewhere in the bowels of the Hotel Sheraton-Jefferson in St. Louis, Missouri.
Thirty-seven year old Richard C. Brown served as chair. A professor at the State University of New York College For Teachers, Buffalo, he had recently produced a 61-page pamphlet, issued the Air University, entitled The Teaching of Military History in Colleges and Universities of the United States. He would eventually revise his 1951 University of Wisconsin doctoral dissertation into Social Attitudes of American Generals, 1898-1940 (Arno Press, 1979).
Ekirch, who passed away in February 2000, was in 1956 a forty-one professor at The American University in Washington, D.C., having studied at Columbia under the great intellectual-cultural historian Merle Curti. Ekirch was drafted during World War II but served out his enlistment in a camp for conscientious objectors. Lawrence S. Wittner, who wrote Ekirch's obituary for the AHA Perspectives, observed that Ekirch, far from home and compelled to perform hard labor," considered himself 'a political prisoner.' For the rest of his life, his personality and views were deeply marked by the experience."
At the time of the AHA/AMI session Ekirch had published three major works: The Idea of Progress in America, 1815-1860 (whose page proofs he corrected while in the camp for CO's), The Decline of American Liberalism (Longmans, Green, 1955) and The Civilian and the Military (Oxford University Press, 1956). A few years hence he would help found the Conference on Peace Research in History, nowadays called The Peace History Society.
Of Tyson Wilson I know much less, save that in 1956 he was on the faculty of the Virginia Military Institute and is today an Emeritus Professor of History with the rank of Colonel. At the time of the session he would have been four years beyond his B.S. from New York University; he would eventually receive an M.A. from Yale University in 1985.
The titles of the two presentations are suggestive:"Military History: A Civilian Caveat" (Ekirch) and"The Case for Military History and Research" (Wilson). Both were published by Military Affairs the following summer; I have supplied stable URLs to each, though you will need access to JSTOR in order to read them online. The traditional citations are:
Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr.,"Military History: A Civilian Caveat," Military Affairs, vol. 21, no. 2 (Summer 1957), 49-54.
Tyson Wilson,"The Case for Military History and Research," Military Affairs, vol. 21, no. 2 (Summer 1957), 54-60.
David Mendel,"2 Illini editors are suspended," Chicago Tribune, 15 February, indicates that two editors of the student newspaper at the University of Illinois have been suspended for publishing the offensive Danish editorial cartoons about Muhammad. The editor-in-chief indicates that he expects to be fired at the end of an internal investigation. Meanwhile, the editor-in-chief at the University of North Carolina's Daily Tarheel defends his decision to publish a similar cartoon. I've criticized the original publication of the cartoons as imprudent and I think it was. But student editors ought not face punishment, even for imprudent decisions, unless – you know – you want to teach them that there's no such thing as freedom of the press in the United States.
Mitchell Langbert,"Slush Money in the Groves of Academe," Front Page Rag, 15 February. As the attribution suggests, I take a backseat to no one in my contempt for David Horowitz's e-rag, but Mitchell Langbert's article is a good reminder of why my colleague, KC Johnson, is one of my heroes.
Sebnem Arsu,"The World's Oldest Line," NY Times, 14 February, discusses a 4000 year old Sumerian tablet, now in the Istanbul Museum of the Ancient Orient. On it is inscribed the world's oldest love poem. A 93 year old historian, Muazzez Hilmiye Cig, is one of the few people who can read it.
William Grimes,"In the Red Army: Called, Trained, Killed," NY Times reviews Catherine Merridale, Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945.
The National Journal article on Guantanamo detainees that has drawn considerable attention across the net is actually a part of this series: Corine Hegland,"Empty Evidence," 3 February; Hegland,"Guantanamo's Grip," 3 February; and Hegland,"Who is at Guantanamo Bay," 3 February.
David Mehegan at the Boston Globe has a series of articles on Wikipedia:"Bias, sabotage haunt Wikipedia's free world," 12 February;"The idealists, the optimists, and the world they share," 13 February; and"Many contributors, common cause," 13 February. Thanks to Nathanael Robinson at Rhine River for the tip.
William Loizeaux,"In Memoirs, Varieties of Truth," Christian Science Monitor, 8 February, comments on the controversy over the memoir as a genre.
Archaeologists are reporting the discovery of a massive tomb in Pella, the birthplace of Alexander the Great and capital of ancient Macedonia.
Der Spiegal recommends UCLA's"Hypermedia Berlin," by which you can do virtual tours of the city, choosing from interactive maps that span the years from 1237 to 2003. Thanks to Dale Light of Light Seeking Light for the tip.
Sarah Baxter and Michael Smith,"CIA Chief Sacked for Opposing Torture," Times Online, 12 February.* Is there no bottom to what the administration does? Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the tip.
*But, see also: Larry Johnson,"House Cleaning at CIA?" TPM Cafe, 7 February.
Well, for what it's worth (and that's obviously not much), here's the list of historians who made the cut for David's list:
Baylor University: Marc Ellis
Boston University: Howard Zinn
Columbia University: Hamid Dabashi
________________: Eric Foner
________________: Manning Marable
________________: Joseph Massad
Georgetown University: Yvonne Haddad
University of California, Berkeley: Hamid Algar
University of California, Irvine: Mark Le Vine
University of California, Los Angeles: Vinay Lal
University of California, Santa Cruz: Bettina Aptheker
University of Colorado, Boulder: Ward Churchill ________________________: Emma Perez
University of Michigan: Juan Cole
University of Pennsylvania: Mary Francis Berry
Western Washington University: Larry J. Estrada
I've used a fairly expansive definition of who is a historian to create this list. I don't think Ward Churchill, for example, deserves the honor. Indeed, the list includes people like him who received academic appointments despite being unwelcome in history departments. The list is a peculiar one, even if you excluded such people from it. How do you account for it putting a serious scholar like Eric Foner shoulder-to-shoulder with a serious fruit loop like Peter N. Kirstein? Indeed, it's remarkable how few on the list are, like Foner and Juan Cole, seriously influential among other historians.
The larger list is a mirror of the fevered brain of David Horowitz. Sociologists, gender and ethnic studies people were more likely to make the list than historians. People on the Left, certainly, but also people of Middle Eastern and Latin American descent were more likely to find themselves there than others of us. It's a hodge-podge of confused conspiratology.
Bruscino was prompted to write in response to two H-LatAm list-serv requests by Victor Macias Gonzalez, a professor at Wisconsin-LaCrosse. “I'm a fish out of water . . . help!,” he wrote. “I am teaching my historiography seminar, and two of my 8 students want to work on Military History. My knee-jerk reaction, of course, was to object, but I want the students to work on topics that are close and dear to their hearts . . . any suggestions for germinal works on military history?” “Dare I think,” Macias Gonzalez continued, “there may be something in U.S. military history similar to what we have witnessed in our own field over the last 15-20 years with the influence of cultural history and gender?”
Bruscino, quite correctly, asked his readers to imagine a comparable request from another perspective:
Say I were to have a job interview for a position teaching American history with a focus on women's history, and I had to give a lecture on the passage of the 19th Amendment. I would go to women's historians for help. I would not say,"I've been asked to give a lecture on the 19th Amendment. My knee-jerk reaction, of course, was to object, but I want departments to teach subjects that are near and dear to their hearts. Is there a historiography on women's history that goes beyond burning bras?" I would not make unsubstantiated implications about the field. No, I would go hat-in-hand, honestly announcing my own ignorance, and assuming that there was a well-developed and serious academic literature.
It’s hard not to sense a bit of Mark Bauerlein’s “groupthink” effect in Macias Gonzalez’s comments, especially since none of the responders on H-LatAm seemed to consider the remarks unusual at all.
I was curious, however, as to why Macias Gonzalez felt necessary to make a public request. Wisconsin-LaCrosse isn’t a huge history department, but it does have nine full-time historians on staff. Moreover, its mission statement promises “a balanced world history curriculum, strengthened by faculty specialties in a wide range of time periods, cultures, geographical areas, and thematic approaches.” (emphasis added)
It turns out that the “range” in Lacrosse’s “thematic approaches” isn’t too wide at all. The department has an ancient historian, a Medievalist, and a historian of comparative religion (whose research focuses on mysticism). Apart from Macias Gonzalez, whose website describes his interests as “Hispanic Cultural Studies, particularly areas of Gender, Sexuality, Class, Masculinity in the Long Nineteenth Century, the Mexican Aristocracy, and Mexican Letters and Fine Arts," the department's other five professors have self-described interests in “comparative world history, visual culture, radical politics, cultural studies, historiography, critical theory”; US social history, focused on the 19th century; US women’s/social/cultural history, focused on the 20th century; Japanese history, with a research emphasis on the sex trade in postwar Japan; and a fifth whose website describes her interests as “Modern France, Chinese History, War and Society, War and Memory, War and Propaganda, Peace Movements.” One would think that this latter colleague would have satisfied Macias Gonzalez’s desire to see an approach to “U.S. military history similar to what we have witnessed in our own field over the last 15-20 years with the influence of cultural history and gender," as her interests are war memorials and"How to Create a 'Feminine Hero' in War." But, as his request implicitly conceded, such topics, whatever their intrinsic merit, are not military history at all.
So—all six of the department’s full-time historians who deal with the world since 1800 focus on themes of social or cultural history. Indeed, they seem to fit Macias Gonzalez’s conception of the historical ideal perfectly, demonstrating not only “the influence of cultural history and gender” in their work, but the hegemony of such concepts. Students wanting instruction in more traditional subfields in the discipline are, apparently, left to the mercy of H-net list-servs. At the very least, the department should change its mission statement to reflect the true “range” of its “thematic approaches.”