What We’re Reading: February 7, 2013

In Today’s What We’re Reading, we feature readings related to Black History Month, an article from Ed Ayers on ways research and teaching can be brought together through digital technology, and a Downton Abbey plot line gets diagnosed.

What to Read for Black History Month: An Ongoing Reading Forum
Throughout the month of February we will be offering readings related to Black History Month and African American history. Have a link you want us to share? Provide it in the comments below or tweet us, and we will add it to next week’s list.

Amid the more general round up of Black History Month events, tributes, and calls to action that are published in February, there are a few voices of dissent on the purpose of evolution of Black History Month.

In Against Black History Month, Charles C.W. Cooke argues inNational Review Online that Black History Month should be abolished in favor of better integrating African American history into the curriculum. Over on the Huffington Post, Dion Rabouin thinks it focuses too much on slavery and should be more pan-African in its emphasis, and Al Jazeera is a streaming “Beyond a Black History Month,” a roundtable that includes Duke Professor Mark Anthony Neal and number of bloggers discussing whether Black History Month trivializes African American history.

History in the News
Cherry-Picking Our History
Historian Sean Wilentz reviews Oliver Stone’s The Untold History of the United States for the New York Review of Books.

A Conversation with the American Historical Association’s Jim Grossman
The History of Science Society newsletter reports on a talk with the AHA’s executive director.

History’s Babel
In addition to the Grossman interview, our own Deputy Director Robert Townsend gave an interview to Inside Higher Ed, in which he talks about his new book that traces the professional shift in the history discipline.

Visualizing Your Research: My Experience with Poster Sessions
Rebecca White, PhD candidate, describes her poster session at the annual meeting: “It is really your elevator speech, plus visuals, and that distillation, while at times painful, has been very useful to my entire dissertation process.”

A Noted Historian Bids Farewell to the Past
“In 2005 the prize-winning historian Nell Irvin Painter put down her pen and picked up a paintbrush,” and you can read more about this move in the Chronicle.

Historians Warn Minister: Hands Off Our Academic Freedoms
The open access debate heats up in the UK.

History and Digital Humanities
A More-Radical Online Revolution
Edward Ayers, a panelist in the 2013 annual meeting’s plenary session on the future of historical scholarship, suggests in the Chronicle how research and teaching can be brought together using digital technologies. One example is the History Harvest project, which was featured in the January issue of Perspectives.

MLA, AHA, and Aaron Swartz
In their latest podcast, Digital Campus contributors (Amanda French, Dan Cohen, Mills Kelly, and Tom Scheinfeldt) compare the AHA and MLA meetings, noting the integration of digital topics, as well as some “tensions” at the AHA meeting over open access.

Fun and Off-Beat
In light of the popularity of the PBS miniseries, Downton Abbey, the Washington Post delved into some medical history to make sense of the latest plot twist (Spoiler alert: do not click this link if you are a few weeks behind.) Speaking of historical investigation, Associated Press medical writer Lindsey Tanner also used medical history to diagnose a beloved television character in the article “Mary Ingall’s Blindness: Scarlet Fever Wasn’t the Cause of ‘Little House’ Sister’s Vision Loss.”

An Interactive Map of What New Yorkers Complain About, By Borough
A new interactive map gives a visual of New York City’s grievances. The top three complaints? Litter, graffiti, and noise.

Uncovering Clues in Frida Kahlo’s Private Wardrobe
Collector’s Weekly offers a new look at Frida Kahlo, through the lens of female empowerment and disability.

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