January 9, 2014, 2:03 pm

Downton Abbey — With Job Candidates

Mr. Carson

Mr. Carson; photo credit

John Hodgman’s spoof, “Downton Abbey — With Cats,” (The New Yorker, January 13 2014), has it exactly right. The season premiere of this popular, snooze-inducing update of Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-1975) has finally been reduced to its essence: clothing, manners, food and estate management. There is no longer a plot, nor is there really much of a script. It is not possible, for example, to issue spoiler alerts, as nothing happened in the premiere to season 4 that aired on Sunday. Nothing. You can watch it and go to bed with nothing on your mind.

This does not mean that we learn nothing from Downton, however, even though you would become a great deal more educated about the cultural history of post-war England from Bertie and Jeeves. For example, unless you have taken Modern British…

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January 4, 2014, 7:37 pm

AHA Day 3: Remember the Women

marriedPartly because I was blogging yesterday’s panel and doing a lot of important business, I missed the morning digital history panels I had planned to attend. I then blew off the afternoon DH panel to go to Generations of Women’s History, which was pretty full. Of women. The one I was sitting next to whispered “I have counted about ten men here.” (Um -HMMM. And three of them were gay.)

As you can see from my Storified account below, I did have a few problems with the panel (see tweets below about the dominance of a heteronormative trajectory in some of the reflections.) I actually was called on, and did ask the question, about how the panel might have looked different had it included a lesbian, but it didn’t gain much traction.

That said, the panel had many high points. Darlene Clark Hine and Crystal Feimster were fantastic on the project of contemporary African-American women’s…

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January 4, 2014, 10:30 am

AHA Day 2: Fun With The Humanities

Elephant SittingYesterday morning I tweeted a terrific session sponsored by the NEH, hung out with a Colorado group clustered around blog pal Historiann, went to the business meeting of the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History, went to lunch with an old friend I met years ago at Nancy Cott’s Schlesinger Library Summer Camp, and then attended the CLGBTH evening reception. 

After the helper-skelter of the fall on the Internet Highway, the American Historical Association Annual Meeting is downright soothing. Lots of coffee, conversations, and evening drinks, dropping into great panels and spontaneous meetings with old friends are reminding me why a conference is fun. The big work on Day 2 was a panel on the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Report on the Humanities and Social Sciences, with Earl Lewis, Susan Griffin, Anthony Grafton, James Grossman, Estevan Rael-Galvez a…

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January 2, 2014, 3:07 pm

AHA Day 1: Digital History Workshopalooza

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We’ve come a long way, baby.

After breakfast with #Graftonliner Surekha Davies, and a surprise encounter with Tony Grafton himself, I beetled off to “Getting Started in Digital History.” If you go to the #dhist #AHA2014 hashtags on Twitter, you can pick up a crowd sourced account of the first hour (it was also live blogged here: anybody want to Storify it for extra credit?)

As someone who is not a beginner, but who still has big holes in her DH education, I thought the new guy at the AHA, Director of Scholarly Communications Seth Denbo, working with Kalani Craig and Jennifer Serventi, did a great job kicking off the morning with the basics of what it means to do digital history in 2014. I would be interested to hear if it worked well for newcomers, but I thought it mapped the field well and was relatively…

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January 1, 2014, 11:06 am

What to Pack — And What Not To Pack — For #AHA2014

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For some of you it is just New Year’s Day, but for those of us with workshops and panels tomorrow, Day 1 of the American Historical Association Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., it’s travel day. After hemming and hawing about the wisdom of getting up at 4 a.m. tomorrow to catch a shuttle, I capitulated and made plane reservations for late this afternoon. Bad news? Missing a long, leisurely day at home filing the rest of my health care receipts for 2013, finishing up the hardback book that is too heavy to carry, and watching football. Good news? Not being exhausted in my morning workshop, and not worrying that this incoming weather system is going to lock me down in New York so long that I miss my second panel too. (Bonus points for flying in and out of handy Reagan National which is usually clogged with Congressmen and lobbyists.)

Fans of both the Radical and my blogpal

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December 26, 2013, 2:23 pm

Click (Dis)Like: Why Social Media Use Is Now A Professional Issue

computerIn my continuing study of Internet rage, I stumbled across this commentary on the Justine Sacco affair. Sacco, you may recall, was the communications director for InterActiveCorp, who tweeted “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” before getting on a flight to South Africa.

Upon arrival (the trip takes around 12 hours, an eternity on the web), Sacco found, among other things, that she had lost her job. An initially puzzled discussion about whether she had been hacked resolved itself into a collective belief that the offensive tweet had precedents, and must be genuine. While Sacco had been in the air, as Nick Bilton wrote on December 24 2013, “the Internet turned into a voracious and vengeful mob….people threatened to rape, shoot, kill and torture her. The mob found her Facebook and Instagram accounts and began threatening the same perils on…

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December 23, 2013, 12:19 pm

Job Market Rage Redux

Caution-Drama-Queen-Just-AheadThis gem is making the rounds of the interwebs: UC-Riverside’s English department plans to let semi-finalists for its job in American Literature know five days in advance if they are to be interviewed at the Modern Language Association meeting. Rebecca Schuman, a writer for Slate and The Chronicle of Higher Education has outed them on her blog, pan kisses kafka. After years of winning prizes, Schuman went through four job seasons without being offered a job. She quit to become an education journalist. “These days,” she writes in her profile, “I can’t believe I ever wanted to be a full-time professor, given how much more fun it is to be able to say whatever the fuck I want to and get paid for it.”

I can’t believe that she isn’t a little more cautious about attacking people in public without getting their side of the story, given that she is a professional journalist. And yes, it…

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December 21, 2013, 4:01 pm

Give It Up: A Few Suggestions for Holiday Giving

Alfred_E_Neuman_as_Santa_by_ZigZag123Finished your holiday shopping? Sick of materialism and the constant prodding to buy more and more stuff? I get that way too sometimes. That’s when it’s time to ask yourself: Have I given away enough money this year? So we at Tenured Radical are going to take a short station break from debating the future of the American Studies Association to play my favorite holiday game:

Where Is Tenured Radical Giving Money This Year? (An Annotated List)

Queers for Economic Justice. This organization is, unfortunately, defunct, due to the fact that we, as a community,  didn’t give enough money before now — or maybe because so few people care about the projects promoting economic justice right outside their door. This New York based nonprofit was only twelve years old, and a shining light in a GLBT politics that has increasingly pushed racism class analysis to the margins of its concerns. QEJ…

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December 18, 2013, 10:53 am

Blogging Across the Water: A Response to David Hirsh About the ASA Resolution

harvey-milk-us-postage-stampDear David,

Thank you for your civil and knowledgeable open letter of December 17, and the links you have shared. I hope you like the stamp I chose for my response: Harvey is one of my heroes, both for his belief that democracy can come to all of us and for his belief in moral persuasion.

You are right: I am new to the global debates over the BDS boycott, having been engaged in reading and conversation for only a year. And yet people have to make decisions at political moments, and for a variety of reasons I was faced with one this fall when I chose to come out against the ASA boycott resolution and then came to believe I needed to re-think and change my position. Part of what makes it difficult to engage this debate is that the two sides tend to use the same rhetorical strategies: the extremists yell and name call, the more moderate voices suggest that you don’t know what you are…

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December 17, 2013, 12:33 pm

The Education of Henry Adams: A Review

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Henry and his book in fall, 2013 (Photo credit: Rachel Adams)

Rachel Adams, Raising Henry: A Memoir of Motherhood, Disability and Discovery (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013). 272 pp. $17.95.

Raising Henry begins with two images. The first is the photograph of author Rachel Adams and her son Henry on the front of the book. It is, Adams tells us, one of the few photographs of them together, since she is usually the one behind the camera. The second image is one she only describes in the opening paragraphs of the book: a cherished photograph of her mother, already dying of cancer in Rachel’s childhood.

These images combine to ask the reader: what does it mean, not only to focus on the disabled subject, but to expand our view and allow a disabled child’s mother, father or siblings to be “in the picture”…

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