Author Archives: Guest Blogger

The Cold War Never Ended: Historical Roots of the Current North Korea Crisis

By Suzy Kim

With tensions at an all-time high between the United States and North Korea, the New York Times headlined its recent digital newsletter with Lies Your High School History Teacher Told You About Nukes. The basic point was to debunk the theory of “mutually assured destruction” that is often used to explain why the Cold War remained cold and did not result in a nuclear holocaust. The article argues that despite possessing a nuclear arsenal that guaranteed “mutually assured destruction,” both the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a costly arms race that attempted to outmaneuver the other with more numerous and powerful warheads, delivered with more precise and faster missiles.

When Historians Collaborate, Scholarship Benefits

By Christine Saidi, Catherine Cymone Fourshey, and Rhonda M. Gonzales

We are three historians who’ve collaborated in a variety of ways on several historical projects over the course of seven years. In the process, our intellectual work has taken turns we never envisioned. We hope that our discussions and approaches can push us all as historians to think about what collaboration looks like in our field, the expansive kind of work it can produce, and how we might infuse worth into undervalued aspects of collaboration. 

“They Are Coming for Us”: Conversion Therapy, Now and Then

By Christopher M. Babits

On a warm autumn night, at an Olive Garden outside Dallas, I prayed with a psychiatric doctor and his wife. We had met a year earlier at the same conference we were at now—the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (ATCSI). This annual meeting brings together people who practice and support sexual orientation change and gender identity therapies, and me—a historian of religion, gender, and sexuality in modern America. In between bites of breadsticks and chicken parmigiana, I asked the couple about their support for what’s often called “conversion therapy.” 

Liberty’s Legacies: Philadelphia’s New Museum of the American Revolution

By Anna Leigh Todd

In 1818, John Adams reflected on the founding of the nation, asking, “But what do We mean by the American Revolution? Do We mean the American War?” His response signaled otherwise: “The Revolution was in the Minds and Hearts of the People.” According to Adams, the people put aside their natural allegiance to Britain once it was clear that their liberties were under attack. “This radical Change in the Principles, Opinions Sentiments and Affection of the People,” affirmed Adams, “was the real American Revolution.” 

Preparing Students for Career Diversity: What Role Should History Departments Play?

By Kristina Markman and Michael A. Ryan

Last year, we participated in a panel on “Career Diversity for the Medievalist” at the 51st annual meeting of the International Congress on Medieval Studies (ICMS). The ICMS is a premier academic conference in the field of medieval studies that draws over 3,000 specialists in all aspects of the medieval past from around the world to bucolic Kalamazoo for four days of scholarship and conviviality. As we both come from institutions whose history departments received the AHA’s Career Diversity for Historians Departmental Grants to reevaluate the training of historians for a variety of careers within and outside of academia, we intended to center this panel on the question of how medievalists can use their specific skill sets for many careers.

From Museums to Corporate History: My Unpredictable, but Exciting Career as a Historian

By Mark Speltz

Twenty-five years have passed since I chose to pursue a history degree. Amazingly, it is one decision I have never regretted or second guessed. Yet it would be a lie to suggest to prospective history majors or young historians that I knew just where my degree would take me. Being personable, intellectually curious, and open to new opportunities has served me and my history degree well.

Writing the Cold War Back In: How History Influences Chinese Foreign Policy

By Gregg A. Brazinsky

As Sino-American relations have emerged as a critical foreign policy issue in the Trump administration, public discourse has been awash with many all too familiar and ill-informed narratives about China and its global objectives. Often, these narratives are derived from overly simplistic views of how China’s past affects the present. Policymakers and journalists have been obsessed with the idea that the People’s Republic of China is trying to reconstruct the “tributary system” or “Sinocentric order” that governed its relations with its neighbors before the 19th century.

History in Harmony: How I Apply My Historical Training to Music Criticism

By David Allen

Whether critics are interested in painting, sculpture, jazz, fiction, or any other art, they are, or at least can be, engaged in historical work. They root descriptions of, and judgments about, contemporary art in an understanding of the past. They might be more prone than professional historians to treating the past on the terms of the present, granted, but they do work that engages history all the same.