Princeton history department responds to blogger's complaints of decline

Historians in the News

Jeremy Adelman, chair of the Princeton history department, responded to my request for a response to the charge that his program's"once great" American-history side has"fallen onto troubled times." The suggestion came from the deliciously named blogger Ambrose Hofstadter Bierce III, who, as I noted this week, is bidding to become the history profession's go-to source for informed, online gossip. Adelman says:

It's pretty funny when bloggers are out of date -- whoever posted this one is a few years off. We've hired several senior people: Julian Zelizer (20th US political), Tera Hunter (African-American), and Martha Sandweiss (US West/Material Culture), as well as 5 junior appointments across a variety of sub-fields in US history. So … I don't know what to say except that this"history" of the Department would get an F in my course. [Adelman's ellipsis]

Adelman also mentioned Emily Thompson, a senior historian of science and technology in the U.S., who arrived two years ago. (To be fair, Bierce did mention Hunter and Zelizer in his to-be-sure paragraph ["Princeton has not totally failed.…].")

Adelman dropped another piece of news that Bierce hinted at but said he was saving for his readers' future delectation: University officials are weighing the history department's recommendation to offer a tenured slot to Chandra Manning, a rising star in the history of the Civil War. Currently an assistant professor at Georgetown, Manning is a 2002 Harvard Ph.d., and did her undergraduate work at Mount Holyoke. In the lingo of The Broad-Gauge Gossip (Bierce's site), she's a one-book wonder:"What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War" (Knopf, 2007). She would more or less be replacing James McPherson, a major figure in Civil War studies, who recently retired.

Bierce, consider yourself scooped!

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