More Noted Things ...
Feuding Neighbors: Mary Battiata,"Blood Feud," Washington Post, 22 May, seemed to resonate with historians. Rebecca Goetz at (a)musings of a grad student and Sharon Howard at Early Modern Notes explore comparable blood feuds found in their research in early Virginia and early modern Welsh sources.
History and Community:"Joint History Textbook," Korea Times, 27 May, reports on a history textbook produced by Chinese, Japanese, and Korean historians. The work was done in response to failures of a Japanese text to accept responsibility for the use of forced labor in World War II. In praising the text as the first ever produced by cooperating scholars from non-European three countries, the Korea Times article may exaggerate its potential for creating a northeast Asian community of nations. Thanks to Moby Lives for the tip.
History Scandals: At Easily Distracted, Tim Burke reviews Jon Weiner's Historians in Trouble. Tim's one of my friends on the academic left who've been reading Jon's book. It's a pretty good source for academic gossip (a form I'm more inclined to indulge in than Tim would be), but really it's a very wrong-headed reading of the history scandals. It just isn't the case that right-wing scholars have committed their offenses and survived unscathed, while lefty scholars have been savaged. Did Ann Lane survive? Is Ward Churchill still drawing a handsome paycheck? As I've said before, Peter Charles Hoffer's Past Imperfect is a book with its own imperfections, but it's a whole lot more illuminating about the history scandals than Weiner's Historians in Trouble.
Lobbying Washington: Scott McLemee's"Show Clio the Money!" Inside Higher Ed, 31 May, looks at our professional lobbying in Washington. So, we're pragmatists and, so, we get funding for certain kinds of projects and hope that other kinds of projects benefit from the left-overs.
Recommendations: eb at No Great Matter has been consulting such venerable authorities as Invisible Adjunct and Edmund Wilson about what to read on the Enlightenment and the emergence of social history as a field of study. Hume, Michelet, Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Vico, yes; but do you have additional recommendations? They're all welcome.
Memorial Day: Even it cannot pass without controversy. How do you honor those who died in lost or, worse, bad causes? At The Weblog, Adam Kotsko argues that American men and women have not died in a good cause since World War II. Kieran Healy at Crooked Timber and Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy cross swords over whether it is appropriate on Memorial Day to distinguish service in honorable causes and in ill-conceived ones. Of the lot, I recommend Margaret Soltan's Memorial Day tribute to Marc Bloch and Caleb McDaniel's"On Memorial Day" at Mode for Caleb. The Scope's Evan and I read such work and can only say:"Amen."
Octagon Houses: If you like to think about the construction of space, as I do, here is a fairly comprehensive index of 19th century octagonal, hexagonal, and round houses in the United States, with many photographs. There are lots of quirky features, like the lovely central octagonal fireplace in an octagonal livingroom in an octagonal house. Thanks to Cranky Professor for the tip.
Teaching Writing: Stanley Fish says we don't do it. His"Devoid of Content," New York Times, 31 May, is the provocative Fish at his best. Thanks to Manan Ahmed for the tip.
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Van L. Hayhow - 5/31/2005
I sometimes teach writing classes which are combined with research courses. I constantly run into students who feel that the substance is all that matters, even though they haven't even expressed their content clearly or convincingly. Since I often teach students who will work in law offices, the ability to be persuasive is key. Yet that requires that they ignore to some extent the content (which is a given in the assignments anyway) and pay attention to the expression. One way I do this is by assigning the "side" the students take. I wonder what Fish uses for a text, if anything. Any ideas?
Michael Meo - 5/31/2005
Perhaps Dean Fish's dorm-room discussions were more edifying than my own, but to my recollection I learned a lot more about marshaling evidence and argument from my history classes than anywhere else.
Jonathan Dresner - 5/31/2005
Honestly, I'm not sure. For one thing, though he doesn't admit it, not all languages draw the distinctions that he insists are fundamental (I'm thinking of Japanese and the lack of plurals, for example), so he loses points for linguistics.
He is misrepresenting Communications/Writing pedagogy considerably, of course: the "magic" of transfering content to skills is a gross misstatement of the idea that students will be more receptive to skills work -- and that is most of what goes on in the classroom and in instructor feedback -- if they are pursuing what they see as a useful purpose. (and just selling skills to students doesn't work so well, these days) It's entirely possible, to my mind, that a student passing through Fish's linguistic wringer would come out with a great deal of knowledge of linguistics, possibly even English linguistics, but I don't know that it would translate to writing and analysis skills any more than working on the same concepts through the lens of political problem-solving or cultural literacy.
Van L. Hayhow - 5/31/2005
Now there is a course I would like to take.
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