A Student of History

January 26, 2007

Military History at Wisconsin

Filed under: The Academy — John Maass @ 2:06 pm

From the National Review, John Miller reports on his blog there of the new position at U of Wisc. in military history.  The story behind this is quite long, and if you wish to learn the tale I’d suggest reading Mark Grimsley’s blog.  Its here.  In fact, I’d start here, in a posting called “Beyond the Culture of Complaint.”  Mark begins by saying that:

On September 26, 2006, National Review Online published an op/ed piece by John J. Miller entitled, “Sounding Taps: Why Military History is Being Retired.” It drew a picture of the field of military history having been hounded almost out of the academy by “tenured radicals.” Although highly tendentious in its portrayal, it drew strength from juicy quotes by a number of military historians, many of them quite distinguished, in support of its basic contention.

Anyway, John Miller at NR reports on the hiring eforts at UW:

This spring, the UW-Madison history department will welcome a new professor. The position is for U.S. military history, a professorship that has been open for 15 years and is being filled just six months after a conservative journal said: “Wisconsin doesn’t actually want a military historian on its faculty.”

The search officially began in November—­six weeks after “Sounding Taps: Why Military History is Being Retired” in the National Review Online claimed “tenured radicals” in departments across the country wanted to shut down military history programs. It also said UW-Madison’s department let the $1.2 million used to hire the professor remain stagnant.

UW-Madison history professor and chair of the hiring committee, John Cooper, was quoted in the article as saying the department had no immediate plans to hire such a professor.

“[The article was] the ill wind that blew some good because it challenged us,” Cooper told The Daily Cardinal last week. “We said, ‘You don’t think we’re serious about it?’”

History department Chair David McDonald said the fact the search was authorized just six weeks after the article is merely coincidence and that he “wouldn’t attribute [the article coming out] as a direct correlation. It focused on an ongoing discussion. There is an undeniable coincidence that these events occurred.”

The article in full is here.  Interestingly, the job in military history was posted at the assistant, associate or full prof level.

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