What We’re Reading: January 21, 2010 Edition

Ben Fry visualization of Darwin's On the Origin of SpeciesIt’s been a few weeks since a regular What We’re Reading post has gone up, due to the schedule around the recent 2010 annual meeting. But we’re back, with a number of links collected throughout this month. We start with some newsy items, including coverage of the participation of historians George Chauncey and Nancy Cott in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial, a look at Haiti’s tumultuous history, the opening of a history center at the Decatur House, and a look at “How to Teach the Writing of History” in this month’s issue of Historically Speaking. Then, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, this past Monday, we have two links: an EDSITEment feature and the discovery of a long lost recording. Read on for more articles on the sub-fields of history (military history and the history of religion), history and new media, textbook revision and digitization, and history throughout the states.

News

Martin Luther King Jr.

Sub-fields of History

  • Why Military History Matters: Another Perspective
    Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh, on the U.S. Naval Academy, offers a compelling case that military history needs to remain “a distinct sub-field, with its own distinctive body of knowledge and methods to master, because war itself represents a peculiar and distinctive form of human activity.”
  • Religion and the historical profession
    The Social Science Research Council offers a very interesting forum about the recent AHA study on the rising interest in the history of religion. The historians commenting on the report includes AHA members John Butler, David A. Hollinger, Jonathan Sheehan, and Grant Wacker.

New Media

Textbooks

  • California Law Encourages Digital Textbooks by 2020
    The Chronicle’s Wired Campus blog reports on Senate Bill 48 just passed in California that requires, beginning January 1, 2020, “all textbooks used in public and private postsecondary institutions be made available in electronic form.”
  • Revisionaries: How a group of Texas conservatives is rewriting your kids’ textbooks
    A perhaps controversial article on the fear that Texas is having an outsized influence on textbook standards.  Because the Texas decides what textbooks to use on a statewide basis, rather than local school districts, publishers try their hardest to get their books used in Texas, because it means big money. However, if partisanship comes into play, this could be problematic for the teaching of history.

History by States

  • Virginia’s Heaven for History Lovers
    Rick Rogers of the Oklahoma newspaper, NewsOK, explains why Virginia’s slogan should read, “Virginia is for History Lovers” after his visit to Prince William County.
  • Saving Texas Dance Halls, One Two-Step at a Time
    During the golden era of the 1920s and 30s, dance halls peppered much of central Texas, most of which have fallen into disrepair over the years. However, Texans are now trying to renovate and reopen these historic gems, which were originally built by “Czechs and Germans who migrated to Texas from the 1830s through the end of the 19th century, looking for freedom and cheap farmland.” Listen to the story from NPR’s Morning Edition.
  • Civil War History in Oklahoma
    If you ever find yourself in Oklahoma, make sure to visit one of its numerous Civil War sites.
  • Be surrounded by history of freedom
    Rochester, New York is chock-full of history and home to some of the country’s most famous emancipators: Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, and Austin Steward. Be sure to check out one of the many historic sites located in the northern-most part of the state.

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

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