To begin this week we point to a number of articles that feature historians talking about the history profession and historians themselves. Then, sit in on a class led by James Sheehan when you watch the podcast of “History of the International System.” This past weekend the Smithsonian announced their new secretary is Georgia Tech’s current president; we link to three sites’ coverage on the news. Also, hear from Stan Katz on liberal education and the history major, read a critique of the new John Adams series on HBO, and check out a webcast of oral histories. And finally, checkout what we’re reading offline, with History News from the AASLH.
Historians on historians
- Historians Studying Historians
Rachel Leow, a “fledgling historian” writes about her research in the papers of George McTurnan Kahin.
- Sunset for Ideology, Sunrise for Methodology?
Tom Scheinfeldt asks whether looking to the past of the profession will help us understand some of the fundamental ways new media can change the way we do history.
- Just the Facts, Ma’Am
Jill Lepore explores the relationship between historical fact and fiction in an article in the New Yorker.
What Else We’re Reading
- History, Power, and our Global Society
Open Culture, a site that gathers free online cultural and educational media, recently posted a podcast by former AHA president James Sheehan on the “History of the International System.” Also check out Open Culture’s past history related posts.
- Georgia Tech’s President Appointed to Lead Smithsonian Institution
The Chronicle’s News blog reports that G. Wayne Clough, Georgia Tech’s president, has been named Smithsonian Secretary. Also see the National Coalition for History’s coverage of this story, as well as the Washington Post’s.
- Liberal Education and the Major
Stan Katz writes, on the Chronicle’s Brainstorm blog, about his involvement with the National History Center’s task force investigating how undergraduate history departments “structure their curricula and relate to the larger liberal education efforts on their campus.”
- Reluctant Revolutionary
Also on the Chronicle’s Brainstorm blog, Marc Bousquet, associate professor of cultural studies and writing with new media at Santa Clara University, sums up and critiques the first two episodes of “John Adams,” a new series from HBO.
- National Visionary Leadership Project Showcase
The Library of Congress has posted a webcast of “a collection of oral life histories” that are part of the American Folklife Center’s National Visionary Leadership Project (NVLP) Collection.
- History News
The Winter 2008 edition of History News, published by the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), includes two interesting articles on the politics, history, and planning of commemorations:
1. “The Civil War Sesquicentennial: Seeking Common Ground,” by Beth Hager, summarizes discussions about the upcoming 150th anniversary of the American Civil War from the September 2007 AASLH meeting in Atlanta. The article explores how the desire for national unity obscured the role of slavery in the conflict during commemorations of the 50th, 75th, and 100th anniversaries of the war, and how plans for the 2011 sesquicentennial might avoid these pitfalls.
2. An AASLH Technical Leaflet on “Planning Commemorations” provides further readings on the history of commemoration as well as practical suggestions for historians and historical societies planning programs about important local, state, and national events.
While these articles are not available online, they can be purchased from the AASLH web site.
Contributors: Debbie Ann Doyle, Elisabeth Grant, and Robert Townsend