A Student of History

June 12, 2007

Why are so many praising Drew Gilpin Faust?

Filed under: The Academy — John Maass @ 8:51 am

In the Boston press there’s a very interesting piece on DGF, now president of Harvard. It casts some doubt on her ideas as an historian, which so many “gushers” have been quick to overlook.   Like when she said women of the South caused the Confederacy’s defeat.  Here is more:

Faust’s distinguished career as a historian suggests a temperament quite different from that of her reputation as a consensus builder. Although as an administrator she has by all accounts been a smooth inside operator, as a thinker and writer Faust has displayed a taste for shaking things up.

“Her historical work has certainly not been that of a ‘safe’ thinker,” says James McPherson, an emeritus professor at Princeton and leading Civil War historian. On the contrary, he says, her reputation among historians is as a “bold” scholar.

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1 Comment »

  1. Er–exactly how does this article cast doubt on her historical ideas? Sure, they’re not above criticism–simply because she tackles big and complicated issues to which no answer can be complete. Her argument that the disillusionment of elite women with the Confederate cause had something to do with Confederate defeat [She never says it “caused” it] isn’t a complete explanation, and would certainly be faulted by someone like McPherson, who has his own axes to grind. But it’s frankly news to me that willingness to go beyond the safe explanation is a “fault.”

    Comment by David — July 16, 2007 @ 9:35 am | Reply


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