July 11, 2012, 4:06 pm
This past quarter, I did something different with my upper-division course on America in Prosperity, Depression, and War, 1917 to 1945. Because the course usually has more than 100 students and no teaching assistant (welcome to the University of California), I have never assigned a research paper before. It’s just too hard to mentor and police that many research projects. But this year, I decided to ask the students to research and write on a New Deal project for one of their papers.
I suggested that the students start by looking at Gray Brechin’s terrific site, and then gave them the following prompt:
Write a history of something – a bridge, dam, road, mural, school, public building, sculpture, park, photograph – that was created or built with federal government money during the years 1933 to 1943. In your paper, consider these questions:
- Which government agencies …
July 9, 2012, 3:29 pm
The Chronicle has an article by Paul Hockenos about the forthcoming annotated edition of Mein Kampf, the first edition to be (legally) published in Germany since the end of World War II. It sounds from the interviews as though the annotators want their scholarly apparatus to go beyond the usual service of providing helpful points of reference to the reader, and actually to argue against Hitler – “Mein Kampf is like a rusty old grenade. We want to remove its detonator … We intend to defuse the book. This way it will lose its symbolic value and become what it really is: a piece of historical evidence—nothing more” – although it’s hard to tell, inasmuch as there are no examples, just comments from people involved or interested in the project.
But suppose it were so: is there another example of a book that could or should get a sort of scholarly fisking edition, pointing out that the…
April 13, 2012, 6:06 am
When you teach a survey course, you make choices about what to emphasize, what to leave out and what your narrative or analytical through-line for the course will be. For example, for the introduction to US history since 1865, I emphasize the relation between sectionalism and the growth of federal power.
But for lecture you can’t just do a piece of that analytical narrative every time – that would be monotonous. So to change pace and liven things up, you have certain stories you like to tell, even if they slow the insistent forward motion of survey lectures. You say, maybe, here’s a story that helps to illustrate the themes I’ve been laying out; something with a little finer grain to let us see how these issues play out in individual lives.
For example, I use the murder of William McKinley (not surprising, I suppose), the Warren Court and the Brown case; Robert F. Kennedy’s appearance…
January 15, 2012, 7:16 am
Received in the mail on Friday, by a fellow EotAW blogger-person:
Required for my spring course on “Conspiracy theories in American History.”
January 8, 2012, 11:32 am
Ira Katznelson’s When Affirmative Action was White shows how government social programs of the New Deal and immediately afterward skewed heavily toward white people – and, as the title indicates, this early “affirmative action” occasioned no objection from the paler members of the citizenry. It was only later, when government programs aimed to help Americans with darker skins, that principled libertarian objections became so popular among white folks.
November 1, 2011, 10:23 am
This advice on business writing, although pitched against academic writing, actually seems like pretty sound advice for academics, except maybe for the advice to use “I” and “you”. But: don’t assume a captive audience, get to the point, cut, especially cut fancy words, and it’s okay to begin sentences with conjunctions—all of that sounds pretty good.
October 28, 2011, 11:28 am
I’m having an unusually difficult time this quarter convincing the students in one of my courses that I really do want them to be quiet while I teach. As always, I began the quarter by mentioning that I have very few pet peeves, but people who chat while I’m lecturing are near the top of that short list. I mean, people who kick kittens and/or puppies are far worse than incessant talkers. But I don’t encounter kitten- and puppy-kickers all that often, at least not while I teach, so they’re not a real-world pedagogical concern of mine.
That said, for some reason the initial no-talking PSA didn’t seem to take this go round, so I decided to mention it again. Adopting my very best insouciant manner (because I wanted to make sure that everybody understood that the talkers weren’t getting under my skin), I stopped class a couple of weeks ago and said, to nobody in particular (because I…
October 25, 2011, 6:35 pm
Among the many things we don’t teach our graduate students — not just here but anywhere that I can think of — is how to referee a manuscript. There are many reasons why this skill isn’t taught: methods aren’t universal, time is short, most people suck at it. There are others, too, I’m sure. That said, this is a really useful guide. Useful enough that I’m just going to paste it in its entirety below the fold.
May 23, 2010, 6:54 am
In comments andrew patiently reminds us he has previously pointed to Andrew Cayton’s lament that historians “leave the world of emotion to novelists, poets, and filmmakers.”1 While this is perhaps true, it is not only historians who have made this shift to bloodlessness. This discussion began with an example from the 1960s. Here are a few more, which I use in lectures.
May 20, 2010, 8:39 pm
Students Frequently Ask this Question: when did the major US parties switch places, and why? Which is to say, when and why did the Democrats, who had been the party of limited federal government, begin to favor expanding Washington’s power? When and why did the Republicans, who had favored so strong a central government in Washington that they would accept a civil war rather than see its power curbed, become the party rhetorically committed to curbing its power?
When is easier to answer than why, though there’s no single date. (It would be nicer, though, if in one presidential election, say, the two candidates had done a partial do-si-do and ended up in each other’s places.) But we can pretty easily bracket the era of change.
At the beginning, we can put the Civil War. During the 1860s, the Republicans favored an expansion of federal power and passed over Democratic opposition a set…
May 17, 2010, 8:17 pm
Ari and I are again teaching the core graduate seminar in history this fall. Below is our reading list, by topic, for your delectation.
November 9, 2009, 1:05 pm
Edward M. Bernstein, the man who supposedly added the words “and Development” to “International Bank for Reconstruction and Development,” talking to an interviewer, Stanley Black, about his good fortune in life; he got hired right out of graduate school to tenure at North Carolina State in 1930, the midst of the Great Depression.
Bernstein: No, I didn’t start at the bottom. To tell you the truth, although my wife doesn’t like me to say it, all my life I’ve been overappreciated, overhonored, and overpaid. Everywhere I went I got to the top of the scale very fast.
S.B.: It helps to have the talent with words, and writing.
Bernstein: Maybe, oh yes, there’s nothing like being able to write. Being able to write is a remarkable gift. There’s none better, if you can also think.
I really like that caveat. Though the exchange is also nice for Black’s Steve-Martinish interposition.
October 20, 2009, 2:14 pm
Ari and I are teaching the methods and philosophy seminar for incoming graduate students, all fields of history. If you’re interested, please have a look below the fold to see what we’ve assigned.