January 17, 2008
It’s a touchy subject and also the focus of the first half of this week’s “What We’re Reading” post: the history job market and the AHA’s role. We point to four articles, and the comments that go with them, to explore a range of views on the subject. Following that is a selection of announcements (including new projects, new award recipients, and new books), links to an excellent series of posts on the digital humanities, and details on how Lincoln’s cottage is going green.
Perspectives on the job market
- Disciplinary Associations Should Start Treating Job Seekers With Respect
Michael Bowen at Inside Higher Ed gives a no holds barred critique of the AHA’s part in both reporting history job market statistics and facilitating the interview process. He then suggests four ways the AHA can reform. See the comments at the end of the article where readers debate Bowen’s points and address the challenges search committees experience as well.
- The War Between the States (of unemployment)
Blogger Historiann responds to the Inside Higher Ed article, noted above, embracing some of Bowen’s ideals while disputing others. Historiann goes on to discuss how new technology has helped lead to some of the problems job seekers experience today.
- Good Prospects Don’t Equal Confidence for History Job Seekers
Continuing with the topic of the AHA and the job market, this Chronicle of Higher Ed article tells the story of Babette Faehmel, a graduate student in history at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Faehmel came to this past annual meeting with no interviews lined up, but had one by the end and called her whole experience “worthwhile.” But the article also emphasized the stress of the history job hunt, and many historians’ frustration with the “mystery” that surrounds the whole process. Note: Next week (and on) you can read this article here, though it requires a Chronicle subscription.
- Some Myths about the Job Market
Finally, Sterling Fluharty, at PhDinHistory, posted an article earlier this month in response to Robert Townsend’s article in the January issue of Perspectives on History. In the post, Fluharty dispels “myths” about the job market and offers his conclusions and suggestions for improving it.
What Else We’re Reading
- Digital Humanities in 2007
Lisa Spiro, director of the Digital Media Center at Rice University’s Fondren Library, wraps up 2007 with a look at “significant goings-on” in the digital humanities. She has broken this up into three posts, explained like so: “Post 1 will focus specifically on digital humanities initiatives; post 2 on mass digitization, reading, and scholarly communications; and post 3 will examine databases, virtual reality, social networking, and ‘green’ digital humanities.”
- AHA Constitutional Revisions: What Say You?
Jeremy Young at Progressive Historians explains why he voted “no” on the AHA’s recent constitutional changes. His post sparked a lively debate in the comments sections that even led to Robert Townsend, the AHA’s assistant director of research and publications, weighing in.
- Battle Pieces
Eric Foner’s review in The Nation of Drew Gilpin Faust’s book, This Republic of Suffering. Foner calls the book "a work by turns fascinating, innovative and obsessively morbid," and in which "Faust returns to the task of stripping from war any lingering romanticism, nobility or social purpose."
- New Directions for the Old Retreat
In this article from the National Trust’s Preservation magazine, Kim A. O’Connell details the restoration of President Lincoln’s cottage home, and the efforts of the National Trust to apply a “sustainable design.” Also see O’Connell’s interview with National Trust President Richard Moe, who received the AHA’s 2007 Roosevelt-Wilson award at the 122nd Annual Meeting at the beginning of this month.
- Where Have All the Soldiers Gone?
Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post reviews former-AHA president James Sheehan’s new book Where Have All the Soldiers Gone? The Transformation of Modern Europe, calling it a “timely, first-rate book”.
- Is human subjects review sometimes contrary to academic freedom?
At BlogHer, an online community for women who blog, Leslie Madsen-Brooks continues the discussion on institutional review blogs, questioning its place in the social sciences.
- 2007 Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients Named by the Mellon Foundation
Two of the three scholars selected for 2007 Distinguished Achievement Awards from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation are history professors: William V. Harris, William R. Shepherd Professor of History at Columbia University, and Thomas W. Laqueur, Helen Fawcett Professor of History at the University of California at Berkeley.
- GovDocs Announcement
There is an interesting new joint project bringing together Public.Resource.Org, the Internet Archive, and the Boston Public Library that "aims to create a comprehensive digital archive of 60 million pages of government documents," according to their press release. They are still seeking funding, but this certainly sounds like a project worth keeping an eye on.
- Nancy Hewitt dishes on “The Leaky Pipeline”
The blog Historiann takes a look at professor of history and women’s studies at Rutgers University Nancy Hewitt’s part in the Annual Meeting session “The Leaky Pipeline: Issues of Promotion, Retention, and Quality of Life Issues for Women in the Historical Profession.”
- Library of Congress, Microsoft Announce Agreement to Support New Interactive Experience for Visitors
The Library of Congress has announced, through a press release on their web site, their new partnership with Microsoft to present their holdings to visitors in a whole new way. The agreement is meant to produce “unparalleled and immersive interactive experiences that will bring the institution’s vast historical collections and exhibits to life–on-site and online…”
Contributors: Elisabeth Grant, Pillarisetti Sudhir, and Robert Townsend