The Generation Game

The AHA recently announced the formation of an ad hoc committee to produce standard guidelines for evaluating digital scholarship. It is hoped that the guidelines will allow professional recognition of new scholarship in a way that can become codified within the tenure process. The committee is a veritable who’s who of digital humanities worthies—all with an excellent track record of traditional peer-reviewed scholarship and engagement with a variety of digital media. When this committee speaks, it will command attention.

This is an important step forward for the profession; having a rigorous set of guidelines for evaluation will serve as an important starting point for encouraging recalcitrant colleagues and administrators to take digital scholarship seriously. But there is one thing that is also notable about the committee—not to put too fine a point on it, it is rather old. All the scholars are safely tenured. Where are the voices of the new generation, of the digital natives? Continue reading

The Week in Early American History

TWEAHAre you looking for a break from a busy weekend of watching the NFL playoffs? Or maybe you need some light relief while finishing up your syllabi for the new semester? Never fear, The Week in Early American History is here!

(All I’ll say is that it’s not because I’m British that I’m angry at the Patriots this weekend.)

On with the links! Continue reading

On to Washington!

Happy New Year! Like the British Army two centuries ago, historians are descending on Washington this week in massive numbers (though likely with somewhat better results for the White House and Library of Congress) for the annual meeting of the American Historical Association. It’s an exciting time for the profession overall as discussions and meetings take place, and a harrowing time for those attending for job interviews. And apparently we’ll all get to see how badly the region handles winter weather.[1]

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The Week in Early American History

TWEAH

I may be imagining things, but it seems that every time I take a turn with TWEAH there’s a major weather event going on outside my window. That may not be the case, but this edition comes to you with the first New England snow of the season. So if you’re stuck inside this morning, or just back from shoveling, take a few minutes to make a hot drink and see where The Junto may lead you.

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A PhD Student’s Case for Embargoes

Note: I welcome this opportunity to expound more fully on a few quotes from me in a New York Times piece about the AHA statement. You can find my Storify of the debates on Twitter and in the blogosphere related to the statement here. It is also worth reminding readers that the opinions in our pieces are those of the author and not of the blog as a whole.

A recent policy recommendation by the AHA on the embargoing of dissertations—i.e., limiting online access and distribution for a specified period of time—has created quite a stir in the blogosphere and on Twitter. Many are criticizing the AHA for a reactionary policy that concedes the status quo, i.e., the undue influence and interest of university presses in hiring and tenure decisions and the profession’s overall laxity in adapting to the digital revolution.

Let me be clear from the outset: I am not defending the AHA’s statement, per se. It does indeed ignore the broader issue of what the AHA intends to do about the long-term, systemic problem of the undue influence and interest of university press publishers in the profession and the profession’s transition into the digital era, more generally. I am, however, going to defend the policy of allowing students the option to embargo. Continue reading

The Week in Early American History

TWEAHLast week, we heard the news that Mitch Daniels, formerly governor of Indiana and now president of Purdue University, apparently tried to keep “terrible anti-American academic” Howard Zinn’s People’s History out of Indiana’s schools and universities. This week, Indiana University’s Carl Weinberg revealed how he actually used Zinn’s text in a training course for Indiana high school teachers. Continue reading

Teaching Narrative in Graduate School

Word Cloud of Cronon's 2013 Presidential Address

This past Monday I turned in my final paper in a graduate seminar given by John Demos entitled, “Narrative and Other Histories.” I initially registered for the class not long after watching Bill Cronon’s Presidential Address at this year’s AHA Annual Meeting and engaging in conversation about it on Twitter as well as in a piece for The Junto. With all the focus on “storytelling” and narrative as a means for carving out a twenty-first-century model of the historical profession, the course offering appeared quite timely. Continue reading