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Housekeeping And Some Blatant Self-Promotion—And Criticism

January 16, 2008

H&E’s Blogroll

Since American Heritage has stopped adding to their weblog, I’m removing it from the blogroll. In its place I’m adding a weblog based on a book, How the University Works by Marc Bousquet. I scanned Bousquet’s weblog yesterday and liked what I saw. Let’s hope that Professor Bousquet keeps up the good work.

I’m also adding Ambrose Mensch’s Apocaloopsis. This weblog is dedicated to liberal education topics in general. There also seems to be a consistent great books theme.

Kennesaw State University history professor David Parker’s Another History Blog first attracted me by virtue of its name: I love it. But he’s shown an interest in a few of my posts, so I plan to monitor his work for awhile.

Spinning Clio has attracted by attention on more than one occasion. My first memory of him commenting at H&E was with Christopher’s Historians for Obama post. Spinning Clio’s author, Marc (that’s all I know), has been blogging for about six years. He describes himself an open-minded conservative. We’ll see! I’m game.

Blatant Self-Promotion—And a Little Self-Criticism

About a month ago I posted a review here of William Chace’s 100 Semesters. While the review received no public comments, about a week after posting Professor Chace wrote me a short reply, on the side. He called my assessment “thoughtful and fully engaged,” as well as “thorough and balanced.” Since my review contained real criticism of his book, can you ask for a better reaction?

The online Columbia Journal of American Studies finally posted my review of James T. Patterson’s Grand Expectations. I first wrote the piece in March 2006, and submitted it to CJAS in April. Since I hadn’t read the piece in quite some time, I worried that I might not like it in the bright lights. I’m happy to report that I (at least) fancy it now more than when I submitted it. Thus far it’s received no comment.

I can’t say the same thing about this piece. Although I’m quite please to have an article published by the AHA’s Perspectives on History (formerly just Perspectives), and I like the idea behind my piece (restructuring the AHA), rereading it left me disappointed. As with the Patterson piece, both gestated with editors for quite awhile. But seeing two uses of the word “enjoy” in the first paragraph, as well as some other awkward sentences, in the AHA piece caused me to wish it hidden beneath a sheet. What can you do? I wouldn’t be surprised if this returns, in terms of comments, only the sounds of silence. – TL


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  1. Marc permalink

    Hey, thanks for the mention!


  2. Tim,

    I enjoyed your review of Grand Expectations. I missed the stuff you pointed out about the second half of the book when I read it many years ago. Did you have another (more recent?) book in mind as you critiqued the absence of social justice analysis in Grand Expectations?

    I also read your article in Perspectives. I was intriguing, but I wonder where your ideas will go. I also wasn't sure if comparing history with the ALA was warranted. It would would be nice to save money, as you pointed out, but I wondered who would pay for the production of the all the journals put out the many different historical associations. I also wonder what would happen if virtually all history professors had to attend the big conference at the same time. Would they all have to cancel their classes because nobody would be left to cover for them?


  3. Dear Sterling,

    I heard, in an aside from a prominent Chicago-area historian who reviewed another of Patterson's books, that Godfrey Hodgson's work provides a better analytical framework for discussing the late 20th century. I have not personally read anything from Hodgson, however.

    On the Perspectives idea, well, practically speaking the conference would be held in a period when classes are at a minimum, just as the AHA does right now (i.e. btween terms). As for journals, it seems that there are plenty of outlets for literary work despite the fact that the MLA is constructed in a federal fashion.

    My point with the piece was to broach a BIG idea for change. All the AHA seems inclined to do is to change the fringes. Although historians are purported, or seem, to be liberal in their politics, they're quite conservative when it comes to tweaking the profession overall. In sum I doubt my proposal will go anywhere—unless someone, or a group, with a lot of power in the organization takes up my idea.

    – TL


  4. Tim,

    I will have to check out _America in Our Time_ by Hodgson. I was unsure about it at first since it was initially published more than 30 years ago.

    Thanks for answering my questions on your conference proposal. The more I think about your idea, the more promising it sounds. One group that you could probably count on for support is people who work in public history. Their travel funds are often quite limited.

    Somebody just left a comment on my blog that reminded of your conference proposal: “I wonder if we don't need some kind of standardized calendar for hiring, on the order of the graduate admissions calendar, in which departments and candidates agree to make their decisions by certain common dates.” Do you think that expanding the number of job search interviews at the annual federation convention would be a major selling point?


  5. Sterling,

    Hodgson's More Equal Than Others (2004) is more recent, but covers events from Nixon to about 2000, making it more comparable to Patterson's Restless Giant. Perhaps my friend meant that the more recent work provided a better framework for thinking about the late 20th century U.S.

    On the federation proposal, yes, I do think that the AHA would then be a more common destination point. I understand the fragility of cross-discipline comparisons, but the MLA's hiring process does seem more all-inclusive than AHA's.

    – TL


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