What We’re Reading: November 5, 2009 Edition

Native American Heritage MonthNovember is National Native American Heritage Month and in this What We’re Reading we bring you three sites with information on events, activities, lesson plans, and resources on various topics pertaining to Native Americans. From the National Coalition for History read up on all the budget updates, new commissions, and nomination progress happening in Washington. Two articles focus on assessments and suggestions: the first on PhD programs, and the second on natural-history museums. Finally, learn more about photographer Roy DeCarava, look back at Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation: A Personal View, consider hiking the Ridgeway National Trail.

Native American Heritage Month

News

Assessments and Suggestions

  • The PhD Problem
    Louis Menand offers a sobering assessment of the self-replicating nature of many PhD programs in the humanities, and asks whether we have been looking to the wrong solution to the imbalance between academic jobs and PhDs. He observes that “Possibly the story has a different moral, which is that there should be a lot more PhDs, and they should be much easier to get.”
  • Preserving the Future of Natural-History Museums
    William Pannapacker (under the pen name Thomas H. Benton), an associate professor of English at Hope College, “humbly submit[s]” a list of suggestions to natural-history museums.  The first recommendation being, “Do not sacrifice the history of your museum for the sake of being up-to-date everywhere you look.”

Assorted Articles

  • DeCarava’s Photos Improvised The Music Of Life
    Roy DeCarava, the first black photographer to win a Guggenheim, had an eye for capturing life in Harlem, “a mix of quiet, ordinary moments, everyday struggles, tiny triumphs.”
  • Forty Years of ‘Civilisation’  
    In our culture of 30-minute sitcoms devoid of much meaning (if any at all), the thought of watching a thirteen-part TV series seems inconceivable. In 1970, however, Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation: A Personal View was a hit, as he journeyed through thousands of years of cultural history. Although Clark died in 1983, his words still ring true today: "It’s worth trying . . . to make people realize how fragile civilisation is and how easily it might slip from our grasp."
  • Hiking History: England’s Ancient Ridgeway Trail
    The Ridgeway National Trail in southern England “takes you past some of the best Neolithic monuments on earth, and through ancient landscapes.”

Contributors: Elisabeth Grant, Jessica Pritchard, and Robert B. Townsend

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