Author Archives: Guest Blogger

Teaching Decolonization Resources: Women and the Algerian War of Independence

By Annabel LaBrecque

Central to the plot of Gillo Pontecorvo’s gripping docudrama The Battle of Algiers (1966) are three Algerian women—Djamila, Zohra, and Hassiba—who carry out a series of bombings against French colonists in the European quarter of Algiers. In depicting Algerian women as agents capable of organizing and executing violent acts, Pontecorvo broke with many of his European contemporaries. In French films like Le Petit Soldat (1963) and L’insoumis (1964), Algerian women were portrayed as passive damsels awaiting salvation from the terrors of their own nation.

Class Warfare: Changes to the AP World History Course

By Matt Drwenski and Dave Eaton

In late May, College Board decided to completely reshape its AP World History (APWH) course. Announced with little fanfare, the proposed revisions halve the historical content, eliminating everything prior to 1450 CE (formerly Periods 1-3) while leaving Periods 4-6 intact. These earlier periods are relegated to a pre-AP World History and Geography course. Since this expensive pre-AP course will not be tested, students cannot receive college credit for it, and even those on the Test Development Committee acknowledge it is unlikely to be popular.

Cultivating Mentoring Relationships in Grad School

By Sarah Mellors

Mentoring relationships in graduate school—be it a master’s or a doctoral program—are critical for success and yet are often difficult to navigate. While we’ve all heard horror stories about “bad” advisers, students have more agency than they realize. During my five years as a doctoral student at the University of California, Irvine, I’ve developed mentoring relationships that have not only enabled me to overcome myriad obstacles, but that will also guide me in the coming years as I transition into a faculty position.

Were Soviet Tanks Deployed in Egypt 50 Years Ago? On the Front Lines of Historical Forensics

By Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez

On February 3, 2018, Russian Air Force Maj. Roman Filipov’s jet was shot down while attacking rebel positions in Syria. Filipov bailed out and, after a shootout with “terrorists,” blew himself up with a grenade rather than be captured. By the time of Filipov’s funeral, President Vladimir Putin had decorated him as a Hero of the Russian Federation. The incident highlights the depth of present-day Russia’s military involvement in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Digging through the Hillary Clinton Email Archive: Using Voyant Tools in the Classroom

By Max Kemman

Politicians’ emails provide historians an exciting window into the fast-paced, formal and informal, and sometimes chaotic world of politics. The sheer number of emails, however, can prove challenging for historians, as archives routinely contain tens of thousands of messages with different recipients. Researchers need months or even years to study such a large number of records, but I give my students only 14 weeks to study over 30,000 emails. They are able to accomplish this feat by employing Voyant Tools.

A Career in Corporate Finance: How My History Degree Helped Me Get There

By Cliff Manko

When I interviewed for a job in corporate finance at Houghton Mifflin in 1992, the publishing firm’s CEO was far more interested in my history degree than my CPA. He grilled me about what I’d studied and how the history courses I’d taken had been taught. To this day, I believe that my passion for what I’d studied in college was the tipping point in getting what I consider to be the most important job in my life.

Demolishing “Participatory Dictatorship”: Leipzig in 1968

By Andrew Demshuk

In a rambling speech to colleagues on Hitler’s birthday in 1963, district party secretary Paul Fröhlich insisted upon the proposed demolition of Leipzig’s fully intact Gothic University Church: “I recommend that, when deciding this question, we proceed on the basis of the Politburo resolution. The people can certainly express their opinion about it, but we must be sovereign to decide for ourselves.” Massive public opposition had arisen to block the unthinkable outcome—how could the regime tear down the historic campus that had been the center of intellectual exchange since the University of Leipzig (in communist times Karl Marx University) had grown out of a Dominican cloister in the 15th century to become the oldest university in East Germany?

History Education in Finland: Some Impressions

By Darcy R. Fryer

Journalists can’t stop talking about Finnish education. Finland has won kudos both for its consistently strong performance on the PISA—an international survey that evaluates education systems worldwide—and for its success in promoting broad equality of opportunity, a healthy work-life balance, and a high degree of autonomy by highly educated teachers. My attention was riveted, but soon frustrated, because so much of what has been written about Finnish education focuses on the elementary years, and especially on math.