A Student of History

June 23, 2008

The fourth annual Virginia Forum (2009)

Filed under: The Academy — John Maass @ 9:44 am

The fourth annual Virginia Forum will meet at Longwood University in Farmville, located in Prince Edward County, Virginia, on April 24-25, 2009. The Virginia Forum offers an opportunity for exchanges of ideas among scholars, archivists, librarians, museum curators, K-12 teachers, and all those interested in Virginia history and culture. The Virginia Forum invites proposals for presentations on all topics in Virginia history and culture, but Prince Edward County’s involvement in both the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement offers a special opportunity to reflect on such themes as historical memory, the significance of place, and the meaning of freedom in Virginia history.Proposals from graduate and undergraduate students conducting research in Virginia history are also encouraged.

The Virginia Forum invites proposals for individual papers or complete panel sessions, roundtable discussions, workshops, poster sessions, or electronic/multimedia presentations. Proposals for individual papers, posters or electronic presentations should be no more than one page, single-spaced in standard font. The proposal should include a title, the name of the participant(s) and his/her affiliation, and an abstract of the presentation that discusses the sources used and the significance of the topic presented. Proposals for complete panel sessions, workshops, etc. should include a one-page description of the overall session, as well as a separate, one-page description for each individual presentation in the session.

E-mail proposals, along with a one-page vita for each of the presenters, go to Brent Tarter, co-chair of the 2009 Program Committee, at Brent.Tarter@lva.virginia.gov. Proposal Deadline: September 15, 2008.

June 11, 2008

Historian Sean Wilentz & the Clinton campaign

Filed under: The Academy,The world today — John Maass @ 8:29 am

Is Princeton historian Sean Wilentz a whore for the Clinton campaign?  Kevin Mattson sure thinks so, as noted in a lively exchange on HNN.  I think Wilentz’s response makes himself look worse than Mattson’s initial summary.  And see his Hillary puff piece at Salon.com.

My question is: how are we to take the “gratuitously patronizing” Wilentz’s new book on the Reagan years seriously as a piece of balanced, objective scholarship when his extreme partisanship is so well known now?  This is the guy, you should recall, who argues that W may be the “worst president in all of American history.” 

According to the Princeton University website, “Sean Wilentz studies U.S. social and political history, specializing in the early nation and Jacksonian democracy. He received his Ph.D. in history from Yale University (1980) after earning bachelor’s degrees from Columbia University (1972) and Balliol College, Oxford University (1974). Chants Democratic (1984), which won several national prizes, including the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association, shows how the working class emerged in New York City and examines the changes in politics and political thought that came with it. It has recently been republished with a new preface in a 20th-anniversary edition. In The Kingdom of Matthias (1994), Wilentz and coauthor Paul Johnson tell the story of a bizarre religious cult that sprang up in New York City in the 1830s, exploring in the process the darker corners of the 19th-century religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening. Professor Wilentz is also the coauthor and coeditor of The Key of Liberty (1993) and the editor of several other books, including Major Problems in the Early Republic (1992) and The Rose and the Briar (2004, Greil Marcus coeditor), a collection of historical essays and artistic creations inspired by American ballads. His most recent book is The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (2005). A contributing editor to the New Republic, Professor Wilentz lectures frequently and has written some two hundred articles, reviews, and op-ed pieces for publications such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books, the American Scholar, the Nation, Le Monde, and Salon. He is the Dayton-Stockton Professor of History and the director of the Program in American Studies.”

June 5, 2008

Academic v Popular History, again

Filed under: The Academy — John Maass @ 6:49 am

The new issue of Historically Speaking has an excellent article by Adam Hochschild about the need for academics to write for larger audiences.  He is correct.  John Demos (in a response) gives tepid support, while Joseph Ellis strongly endorses Hochschild’s conclusions.  And Joyce Seltzer doesn’t get it at all.

More silliness from the UK

Filed under: The Academy — John Maass @ 5:16 am

Do UK education officials dream up ways of screwing up their schools, or is this purely accidental bullshit?  The Telegraph tells us that a former government advisor argues that “the national curriculum should be more focused on the teaching of skills such as team building, public speaking and problem solving, rather than ‘an encyclopaedic knowledge’ of the world, he believes.”   The “subject approach” favors middle class students, so of course that must be “mean.” 

The expert, Prof (red flag) John White from the Institute of Education of London University, says “distinct lessons in English, maths, history, geography, science and foreign languages have traditionally been used to equip children with the skills needed to become a member of the middle classes. They have become a vehicle for entry to university, but this harmed poor pupils unable to get the top grades, he suggests.”  Duh! 


May 21, 2008

Military History in the Academy and in Public

Filed under: The Academy,Wars — John Maass @ 5:43 am


I am pleased to note that there is a very well-done piece by John Lynn at the NAS website, entitled “Breaching the Walls of Academe: The Purposes, Problems, and Prospects of Military History.”  Lynn is currently professor of history at the University of Illinois, Urbana.  He served as president of the United States Commission on Military History from 2003 to 2007 and as vice-president of the Society for Military History from 2005 to 2007. His latest book is Women, Armies, and Warfare in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

In the piece, Lynn considers “again the fate of military history in American academe.”

Very well worth reading…he does a nice job differentiating the (as he sees it) different genres of military history: popular, applied, and academic. 

March 6, 2008

In trouble for reading a book

Filed under: PC,The Academy — John Maass @ 8:28 am

Keith John Sampson never thought he could get in trouble for reading a book, especially not on a college campus. But that’s what happened.

And…it was a history book!

Read the rest here.

February 20, 2008


Filed under: Early America,The Academy — John Maass @ 10:10 am

Siena College announces a search for a Director of the College’s new Center for Revolutionary Era Studies. The mission of the Center is to foster greater appreciation, interest, and awareness of the events and ideals behind the struggle for American independence. Of special interest is exploration and understanding the Revolutionary Era in upstate New York. The Director will serve on a three-year renewable contract with renewal at the option of the College. The Director will hold a PhD in history with a specialty in the Revolutionary period. Academic rank is open but the position is not tenure track. The Director will be expected to have published in his/her field and will continue to do so. Since the Center is housed in the History Department, the Director will report to the Chair of the History Department. Responsibilities of the Director will be to direct the Center and teach two American history courses each semester at the discretion of the department Chair. The Director’s responsibilities for the Center include, but are not limited to; applying for grants and seeking donors, producing and coordinating events, conferences, and workshops, coordinating with the Chair of the History Department offerings for the Certificate for Revolutionary Era Studies, chairing the College Center committee and scheduling meetings with the community, overseeing a budget, and maintaining collaboration with Saratoga National Historical Park. The Mission Statement for the Center is available at http://www.Siena.eduHistory. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Duties to begin September 1, 2008. Please send a cover letter, CV, examples of scholarship, and names of three references in confidence to Chair, CRES Director Search, c/o Laurie Hempstead, School of Liberal Arts, Siena Hall Room 321, 515 Loudon Road, Loudonville, NY 12211-1462.

February 12, 2008

Early American Military History at the SMH 2008

Filed under: Early America,The Academy,Wars — John Maass @ 10:28 am


I was pleased to see the program of the 2008 meeting of the Society of Military History (in Ogden, Utah) will have several papers (mine too) on early military history, primarily in the 18th century.  Kinda breaks up all the “air war” and COIN papers!

Here are the titles and presenters: 

“The Critical Shift: Washington’s Fabian Strategy.” Donald Stoker, US Naval War College, Monterey Program

“Nathanael Greene’s Southern Strategy.” Michael W. Jones, US Naval War College, Monterey Program

“The Rise and Decline of the Theory and Practice of Partisan Warfare in Early Modern Europe,” George Satterfield, Hawaii Pacific University

“Using the Natives against the Natives: Indigenes as “Counterinsurgents” in the British Atlantic, 1500-1800,” Wayne E. Lee, UNC-Chapel Hill

“Exerting Limited Control with Limited Resources: Spanish Policy on the North American Frontier,” Irving Levinson, University of Texas, Pan-American

“The Politics and Philosophy in the Army of Eighteenth Century France,” Christy Pichichero, Stanford University

“For Cause and Family in the American Revolution,” Jason Palmer, United States Military Academy

“Morality and Captivity in Revolutionary South Carolina,” Paul Springer, United States Military Academy

“Troublesome Allies:  The Wabanaki in King William’s War,” Jenny Hale Pulsipher, Brigham Young University

“The Protestant Assault on New France: War, Religion, and the Origins of Empire in the Colonial North East,” Owen Stanwood, Catholic University

“Cultural Exchange on the Warpath: English-Indian Cooperation and Communication in the Pequot War,1636-1638,” William Stone, University of Kentucky

“Frontier Health:  British soldiers at Forts Niagara, Detroit and Michilimackinac during the American Revolution,” Tabitha Marshall, Memorial University of Newfoundland“Queen 

“Against Their Will? The Recruitment of the King’s German Subsidy Troops for North America, 1776-1783,” Daniel Krebs, University of Louisville

“Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave, When First We Practice to Recruit,” James R. McIntyre, Moraine Valley Community College

“’An Extreme Violent Spirit:’ War, Peace, and the Politics of Enmity in Revolutionary North Carolina,” John R. Maass, U.S. Army Center of Military History

“’The Virtue of Humanity was Totally Forgot’: How Britain Failed to Subdue the Southern Colonies,” Greg Brooking, Gordon College

The Loyalist Exodus of 1778: The Mass Escape of Southern Loyalists
To Florida and Its Consequences,” Jim Piecuch, Kennesaw State University

Culloden, 1746


January 22, 2008

Too many Ph.D.’s?

Filed under: The Academy — John Maass @ 10:59 am

An AP Story says:

College students are getting a raw deal, a recent New York report asserted. The problem is they’re taking too many classes from part-time, or adjunct, professors.  But that same report unwittingly revealed something about how higher education is more culpable than it likes to admit when it comes to creating the problem.

The issue is a huge one in higher education far beyond New York, with about half of the nation’s college faculty now on part-time contracts. Adjuncts are cheaper for colleges, but they often lack the time and resources for focused teaching, and research shows students’ performance suffers if they are taught by part-timers too often.

In its report last month, a 30-member commission called for New York’s state (SUNY) and city (CUNY) systems to alleviate the over reliance on adjuncts by hiring 2,000 more full-time faculty for their 87 campuses.

But just one page away, the report also called for adding at least 4,000 new doctoral students.  There’s a connection between those numbers that deserves more attention.

January 18, 2008

The Atlantic as a Theatre of War, 1500-1825

Filed under: Early America,The Academy,Wars — John Maass @ 7:37 am

Applications are invited for participation in the Seminar, to meet for approximately ten days at Harvard University in the first half of August 2008. Participants, for whom travel and accommodation will be provided, must be recent recipients of the Ph.D. or its equivalent or advanced doctoral students engaged in research on aspects of Atlantic history. Historians at the early stages of their careers in Latin America, Western Europe, and Africa are especially invited, to join scholars from the United States and Canada for presentation of work in progress and discussions of the theme of the Seminar. It is hoped that some of the expenses of the participants will be defrayed by their own universities.

Work in progress on the military and naval conflicts, whether officially sanctioned or not, among the European powers or their colonial proxies will be presented and discussed. Shifts in the modes of warfare, the recruitment and experiences of combatants, and the determinants and significance of success and failure will be especially important. Senior historians will chair the sessions on topics of special interest to them and join in the Seminar’s discussions.

The Seminar, under the auspices of the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History and supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is directed by Professor Bernard Bailyn. For application forms, to be returned by April 30, 2008, or information, please contact Pat Denault, Administrative Director, International Seminar, Emerson Hall 4th Floor, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138. Telephone: 617-496-3066; Fax: 617-496-8869; E-mail: pdenault@fas.harvard.edu. All application materials are also available on our Web site.

January 16, 2008

The Case for History and the Humanities

Filed under: The Academy — John Maass @ 12:14 pm

The latest edition of the AHA’s Perspectives includes an article by current AHA president Gabrielle M. Spiegel entitled “The Case for History and the Humanities.”  It is not available on line yet but should be in the next few months.  When it is I will provide a link.

December 20, 2007

A.H.A. Program 2008

Filed under: The Academy,Wars — John Maass @ 7:31 pm

This year, the American Historical Association’s annual meeting will be in Washington, D.C.  Their program includes a number of papers to be given on military history, which is encouraging.  Click here for the session titles.

One promising session is Beyond the “New Military History”: New Histories of the Military, Warfare, and Society, chaired by Richard Kohn of UNC.

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