Cross-post from History of Knowledge In my initial academic encounters with Germany in the late 1980s and early 1990s, one of the things that impressed me was the availability of… Read more Organizing and Communicating Historical Knowledge: Some Personal Observations →
We tried something new in connection with a conference called Learning by the Book. The conveners asked participants to submit a blog post to History of Knowledge in lieu of… Read more Blogging before Conferencing →
…The iterative practice of regular blogging has its own set of joys. For me, writing begets writing. The blog doesn’t distract from my formal academic or scholarly work. It feeds it. It becomes a form of discipline, like doing sit-ups every morning, a practice I long ago abandoned. My abdominal muscles are flabby, but when I sit down to write, whatever the context, I feel strong.
“With any luck at all, the best teachers … are the ones who aren’t done learning how to teach.”
Interesting comment today by Cameron Blevins:
History and its Limits under Trump
Being a historian right now feels like being kept awake through brain surgery.
—Elizabeth Catte on Twitter, January 28, 2017
New Yorker cartoon whose premise is that historians matter.
My initial personal takeaway from tonight’s lecture on digital mapping: It looks useful as an analytical tool, and for presentation, but in the end we still have to write narratives. Historians have to make choices, not present facts that merely speak for themselves. During the question and answer period, the story-telling aspect of such enterprises became clearer. Apparently a kind of directed narrative is the idea. Unfortunately, that got lost in the presentation of tools aimed at the already initiated. An inordinate amount of space was given to talking about… Read more Tonight’s Lecture →
In most of today’s university disciplines, professional training serves to distance an individual from the public, to refine them into an ‘expert’ whose speech and writing are marked by incomprehensible formulae and keywords. But history-telling came out of an age before the era of experts, and its form is inherently democratic.
—Jo Guldi and David Armitage, The History Manifesto (2014; Cambridge UP, 2015), 56.
At the end of his English-language review of Anne Sudrow’s long book (in German) about the shoe in National Socialism, Neil Gregor has some choice remarks about German academic publishing, particularly dissertations and the second advanced dissertation (Habilitation) that would-be professors in Germany have to write.1 Of course, he does not mean all or even most scholarly books in Germany, but as an editor and historian, I do have to deal with the tendency he describes rather a lot. I’m sure translators will feel Gregor’s pain too. Inevitably, there are… Read more German Scholarly Monographs →
I went to the annual meeting of the Society of Military History this year, because it was in the DC area, if way out in Crystal City. It was good to see and talk with people, especially a particular outside reader of my dissertation, who I was glad to run into. The book display was also interesting, because I discovered titles that the same publishers had not shown at the AHA meeting in January. Less interesting were the panels, which are actually the main event of conferences. The problem was… Read more Military History Conference →
Uploading one’s dissertation to the Internet Archive is certainly not for everybody, because publishers will not want to publish something that one can get elsewhere for free. Nonetheless, I took… Read more Dissertation on Internet Archive →
Teaching undergraduate students forces me to deliver narratives and explanations to people who do not share my professional assumptions about how the world works and the way history should be told. It challenges me to think about how I can retell old stories with a different vocabulary. In the process I might even learn something. This is especially likely to happen when students ask me questions or express strong feelings about a major event. I last noticed this phenomenon in the fall, when I had my students visit the Holocaust… Read more When Experts Are Forced to Talk to Outsiders →
Producing Knowledge Mills Kelly of Edwired responds to the notion that the historical profession is about writing and therefore about publishing in traditional academic print media: It seems to me that the essence of scholarship is the circulation of knowledge and the discussion of that knowledge among both peers and other interested parties. How is knowledge circulated? Print, the Internet, a museum exhibit, film, radio, are all methods for circulating knowledge and all of them require some sort of writing–even if that writing doesn’t result in yet another monograph or… Read more Historians Speak about the Profession →
Yesterday I wrote about the present in this blog about my work with the past. What possible justification could I have for doing that? (I mean besides the obvious point that this is my blog.) I wrote about outsourcing military functions in Iraq not because I possess special knowledge of the subject, but because my expertise in history makes me frame the issue in ways that are different from what I find in the media. I do not possess any special insight into what we should do about the Iraq… Read more Historians and Politics →