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Sep 8, 2004 3:50 pm

The Blogging Graduate Student and Young Historian ...

Senior historians may have been slower to take up the blogging life than economists, lawyers, philosophers, or social scientists, but there is now a rich variety of blogs by younger historians and graduate students in history. I want to showcase some of them at the opening of the new academic year

Some of the best of the new history blogs are associated with us at Cliopatria. Manan Ahmed blogs at Chapati Mystery. A graduate student in South Asian history at the University of Chicago, Manan comments regularly on South Asian affairs and other matters of interest. Sharon Howard, who completed her graduate work at the University of Wales, posts at Early Modern Notes. It is associated with the rich site, Early Modern Resources, which Dr. Howard has maintained for four years. Like Chapati Mystery and Early Modern Notes, Nathanael Robinson's The Rhine River is both visually attractive and thoughtful. A student at Brandeis, Robinson reflects his wide-ranging interest in regional studies on his blog.

In addition to the blogs currently associated with Cliopatria, we are proud of two history group blogs which it had some role in birthing. There is blogenealogy: Rebunk is out of Cliopatria and Big Tent. Two young conservative American historians from Ohio University, Tom Bruscino and Stephen Tootle, who blog at Big Tent, joined their friend, Derek Catsam, a liberal American historian who blogged at Cliopatria, to create Rebunk. It is noted for lively debate, though I see that, when such debates occur at Cliopatria, Bruscino calls them"snarky and cranky arguments." There is also bloganalogy: Time Travel Is Easy was conceived by Claire H. L. George and Konrad Lawson as"a sort of Cliopatria for the teen-age set." It was a remarkably 21st century creation because George otherwise blogs from England at 17th Century and Lawson was blogging from Japan at Munnin. Six months later, Lawson has begun graduate study in East Asian history at Harvard.

My colleague, Tim Burke, blogs – not only at Cliopatria – but primarily at Easily Distracted. I know of two blogs by young historians who are his former students, though I seem to recall his mentioning other former students who are also bloggers. Ed Cohn, who has a gift for excellent names for blogs, is now a graduate student at the University of Chicago in Russian and Soviet history. Laying aside his initial work at Mildly Malevolent, Cohn now blogs with two other Chicagoans at Gnostical Turpitude. As I recall, a more recent Swarthmore graduate, Danny Loss, who blogs at No Loss for Words, is planning to begin graduate study in England soon.

That only begins to showcase the many blogs by younger historians. Josh Marshall, who has finished his dissertation in American history at Brown, is in a class all his own. His Talking Points Memo is one of the most widely read blogs in the net and points to a very promising career in American journalism. Like the work of others mentioned here, it will be journalism honed with a keen sense of history. Kirk Johnson at American Amnesia is a Chicago graduate in Near Eastern Studies and has done further study at the American University in Cairo, the University of Damascus, and Al-Azhar University. Like Marshall, Johnson has many talents and interests, making documentaries and, currently, running a campaign blog for his uncle, who is a candidate for Congress from Iowa. Brian Ulrich of Brian's Study Breaks and the University of Wisconsin shares Johnson's interest in the Middle East. Via his fine blog, we followed Brian's travels in Morocco this summer.

Despite his youth, or maybe because of it, Kevin C. Murphy, a graduate student in American history at Columbia, may be the elder statesman among history bloggers. His Ghost in the Machine has been"haunting the net since 1999." A graduate student in American history at Johns Hopkins, Caleb McDaniel joined the net only recently at Mode for Caleb. McDaniel's style of blogging is in distinct contrast with Murphy's. Murphy is given to the brief, pungent entry. McDaniel is more likely to post a short, thoughtful essay. David Nishimura who blogs at Cronaca is a doctoral candidate in art history at NYU's Institute of Fine Arts. He follows news of historical interest very closely. A native of Norway, Kristine Brorson is a graduate student in Modern History at the University of St. Andrews. She blogs at Historiological Notes.

There must be others that I've missed and I apologize for that, but this should give you a sense of what is being done by younger historians. Somehow it seemed appropriate to end with Sara Dougherty's experience at the University of Rochester. She is one of Robert Westbrook's students in American history. Her initial blog for U of R graduate students in history was called The Journal of Pissing and Moaning. That seemed appropriate enough for the experience of many grad students (and check out that web address), but she's had second thoughts. Graduate students in history at U of R can now stay current at Past and Future History.

Update: Thanks to Kevin Murphy and Caleb McDaniel, add the following history graduate student blogs to those I've mentioned above: Jason Kuznecki, a graduate student in American history at Johns Hopkins, blogs at Positive Liberty and Linus Kafka, a graduate student in American history at UCLA, blogs at Snoblog. In addition to Murphy, Columbia history graduate students blog at Baldanders Simplicius Simplicissimus, The Naked Tree, Peasants Under Glass, and Pickle in the City.

Further Update: I don't do this ordinarily, but if I were a very smart, single, young Jewish guy, I'd go over to Naomi Chana's Baraita and introduce myself.

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Dokemion Camins - 4/6/2010

Thanks for this post.. It help a lot!

School Scholarships

Derek Charles Catsam - 9/7/2004

Ralph --
On Rebunk, "snarky" and "cranky" are both honarary terms only applied to a few. We yearn to be considered snarky and cranky. (And Tom would be happy to be called "handsome" and "clever," but let's walk before we run.) In any case, yes, thanks for this impressive list.

Kevin C. Murphy - 9/7/2004

Thanks much for the kind referral! ;)

W. Caleb McDaniel - 9/7/2004

Thanks for the list! I should also mention a fellow graduate student of mine at Hopkins, Jason Kuznicki, who blogs at Positive Liberty. Reading Jason's blog helped me think about why I should blog, and what my blog should be like.

Tom Bruscino - 9/7/2004

I swear, the "snarky and cranky" thing was a compliment. You guys just had a more recent lively debate that involved lots of people and talked about historiography than we did, so I linked it. Heck, Rebunk could probably be called "Snark and Crank," but we would probably get in some trouble.

Thanks for the list.