What We’re Reading: July 14, 2011 Edition

This week we start off with a look at the new Alt-Academy careers website, Android apps for academics, and an oral history tool. Then, from the news, an attempted historical document theft, possible cuts in the Census budget, and a rethinking of Robert F. Kennedy’s papers in the JFK Library. We also link to articles on the role of community colleges in humanities teaching, further thoughts on Google’s failed newspaper digitization project, and the movement (or lack thereof) of senior faculty. Then we turn to good old-fashioned books, with thoughts on how technology is changing their form, what scholars can learn from novelists, a small furor over a book review in the AHR, and some dismal new numbers on printed book sales. Finally, just for fun, read about the history of the hot dog and the pizza box.

Alt Academy
Digital

News

Insights

  • Community Colleges and the Humanities
    Rob Jenkins offers an excellent take on the role of community colleges in the larger ecology of humanities teaching (and employment) in higher ed.
  • Google Fail: Digitizing Newspapers
    Historian Richard Salvucci charges “Google Disrespected Mexican History” in its newspaper digitization project a few years ago, and warns that “what Google giveth, Google taketh away. Without notice. Without warning. And without explanation.”
  • Faculty Immobility in the New Economy
    Noting that “senior-faculty movement has dropped along with every other figure in today’s employment market,” Leonard Cassuto at the Chronicle of Higher Education ponders what the end of the academic star system might mean for the rest of academia.

Books

  • How the IT Revolution is Changing Books
    Robert McCrum in the Observer argues that “there’s hardly a mainstream genre (fiction, history, children’s books, poetry) that’s not undergoing significant change, attributable to the liberation of the new technology,” and urges readers, writers, and publishers to consider the “potentially positive aspects of this historic paradigm shift.”
  • Adam Hochschild talk

  • Scholar vs. Novelist
    Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost and winner of the AHA’s Roosevelt-Wilson Prize, discusses “what scholars can learn from novelists—and journalists—about storytelling.” See also part 2 of this talk and the video version.
  • Leon Trotsky Biography
    Scott McLemee notices a review of a recent biography of Leon Trotsky in the latest issue of the American Historical Review and predicts that it “will earn a place in the annals of the scholarly take-down.”
  • 10% Drop in Print Book Sales
    Publishers Weekly reports more bad news for the printed book industry—a 10 percent decline in sales in just the first six months of the year.

Food

  • History of the Hot Dog
    NPR looks into the history, and the myths, of the origins of the hot dog.
  • History of the Pizza Box
    From copper containers to the current day cardboard carrier, learn about the history of the pizza box at the Serious Eats: Slice blog.

Contributors: Elisabeth Grant, Jim Grossman, Vernon Horn, and Robert B. Townsend

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