What We’re Reading: June 18, 2009 Edition

Historic Newspapers from the Library of Congress - TaftA recent article in the New York Times on “traditional history courses” has created a bit of a stir in the blogosphere. We start off this post by linking to the article and some responses. Then, check out Michele Lamont’s view of the field of history, read about a new college for history only, and listen to a layman’s approach to historic preservation. And finally, see historic newspapers on the Library of Congress Flickr page, read a critique of Google Books, learn seven lesser-known Civil War stories, revisit a two-century-old mystery, and learn about the life of Gypsy Rose Lee.

  • Great Caesar’s Ghost! Are Traditional History Courses Vanishing?
    The New York Times notes that diplomatic history is disappearing and looks to the history profession’s future. The article has elicited a number of responses; see what Mary L. Dudziak at the Legal History blog has to say and visit the HNN Cliopatria blog for a roundup of more reactions. The AHA study used in the report is still available online here.
  • Evaluative cultures: History vs. Economics!
    While the New York Times focuses on divisions in the field of history, Michele Lamont emphasizes the larger "consensus" in the discipline. Drawing on the research for her new book on How Professors Think, she concludes that when it comes to the way evaluate scholarship in history “the disciplinary center holds.”
  • A College for History Only
    In an effort to “promote the study of history in a way that [is] affordable and might reach new groups of students,” the Massachusetts School of Law is opening the American College of History and Legal Studies, which will “offer only the junior and senior years of instruction” and only offer one major: history.
  • A Layman Looks at Historic Preservation
    Author and New Urbanist social critic James Howard Kunstler riffs on historic preservation in his latest podcast. Kunstler (The Geography of Nowhere and The Long Emergency) discusses issues such as adaptable reuse, preserving building façades, energy consumption, and why "we don’t make ‘em like we used to."
  • New Flickr Photo Set: Historic Newspapers
    The Library of Congress blog announced last week a new historic newspapers “photostream” on their Flickr page. This new photostream “is a series of 52 weekly supplements in the New-York Tribune, beginning 100 years ago in 1909.” The library plans to add more pages each month.
  • Google Books Mutilates the Printed Past
    Ron Musto, co-director of Humanities E-Book and a recipient of the AHA’s Marraro Prize, goes medieval on Google Books in "Google Books Mutilates the Printed Past."
  • Seven Civil War stories your teacher never told you
    Mental Floss, by way of CNN, shares Civil War stories (that you may have never heard) of Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Mark Twain, and more.
  • A Student Sleuth Haunts the Grounds Where a College Once Burned
    For her senior thesis, St. Mary’s College history and anthropology major Bonnie J. McCubbin may have solved a two-century-old mystery as to who burned Cokesbury College in Maryland.
  • Read ‘Em And Peep
    Noralee Frankel, the AHA’s assistant director for women, minorities, and teaching, received a nod in the Style section of the Washington Post this past weekend for her book Stripping Gypsy: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee.

Contributors: David Darlington, Elisabeth Grant, Vernon Horn, and Robert B. Townsend

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