Inside Higher Ed
Originally published 07/22/2013
The American Historical Association on Friday released a statement criticizing the way Mitch Daniels (when he governor of Indiana, prior to becoming president of Purdue University) exchanged e-mail messages with staff members criticizing the work of the late Howard Zinn. "Whatever the strengths or weaknesses of Howard Zinn’s text, and whatever the criticisms that have been made of it, we believe that the open discussion of controversial books benefits students, historians, and the general public alike. Attempts to single out particular texts for suppression from a school or university curriculum have no place in a democratic society," said the statement....
Originally published 06/03/2013
A federal appeals court on Friday handed an important victory to scholars -- especially those who engage in or rely on oral history -- by reducing from 85 to 11 the number of oral history interviews Boston College must provide to British authorities.In doing so, the appeals court rejected (as it did in an earlier review of the case) the idea that confidential materials collected for scholarship were entitled to a heightened level of protection from outside subpoenas than would be most other documents. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit said that some "balancing" of conflicting rights could still be in order, and rejected the U.S. government's contention that there was no need for a court review of the appropriateness of the the subpoenas."[W]e rule that the enforcement of subpoenas is an inherent judicial function which, by virtue of the doctrine of separation of powers, cannot be constitutionally divested from the courts of the United States," said the ruling....
- Originally published 02/21/2013
Originally published 02/04/2013
The historical enterprise -- that is, the work of historians, in any sphere -- has become too divided, even splintered, Robert Townsend believes. While the American Historical Association was founded with the intent of bringing together "professors, teachers, specialists, and others" (according to its original call, in 1884), today the profession of history is seen as synonymous with the work of professors at research universities -- to the detriment of the discipline as a whole.Townsend ought to know whereof he speaks: he is the deputy director of the AHA, where he has worked for over 20 years; he is also the author of numerous studies on the state of the historical profession.In his new book, History's Babel: Scholarship, Professionalization, and the Historical Enterprise in the United States, 1880-1940 (University of Chicago Press), Townsend traces the beginnings and growth of what he calls the "professional shift," in which historical work splintered into separate professions: academic research, teaching, and public history....
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