O March! You herald spring and blooms and sun!
But lest you fear a change too swift to speak,
I now present our tidings of the week. Continue reading
That moment in the semester had arrived. You know the one: the point at which, having received their grades from the first assignment of the term, students were beginning to panic about their final writing tasks. Even though I, as a historian, write quite a bit, I sometimes find it hard to teach writing because it’s difficult to articulate the rules I inherently know. I also think that it can be tricky to teach in an engaging way. Because I can be a competitive person, I decided to teach my first-year students about writing through a contest of sorts. Continue reading
I am currently in the midst of grading midterms and the process, as well as a recent piece by Marc Bousquet at CHE, has gotten me thinking about undergraduate writing and the debate of its value kicked off by Rebecca Schuman’s piece, “The End of the College Essay,” in Slate back in December. I want to use my post today to lay out some thoughts I have been having about undergraduate writing in lieu of the debate these articles have occasioned. Continue reading
I don’t know about you, but my Twitter and Facebook feeds are overflowing with updates on how many schools, universities, and day care centers are closed today as the latest round of winter weather works its way up the East Coast. But some are open, with professors in the classroom trying to make headway on syllabi that are rapidly becoming useless as guides.
We at The Junto are very excited to announce the birth of a new podcast. “The History Carousel” will connect the past with the present, and will feature a rotating cast of Junto members and guests. It’s part of our equally-new podcast network, which is going to allow for all sorts of podcasting shenanigans—many thanks to Michael Hattem for helping to set it up. Continue reading
Here are your early American history headlines… Continue reading
“Without Contraries there is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion,
Reason and Energy, Love and Hate are necessary to Human existence.
From these contraries spring what the religious call Good & Evil.
Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing
from Energy. Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell.”
-William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
I doubt that the mercurial poet William Blake had American historiography on his mind when he penned these famous lines from his most famous poem, but I am going to use them for such a purpose anyhow. And who knows—Blake was indeed known as a visionary. Continue reading
Primary sources form an important part of the assignments for any of my undergraduate classes. As with any set readings, some of these sources work more successfully than others. One source that has proven reliably successful is Henry Drax’s instructions on running a sugar plantation in seventeenth-century Barbados. Back in my graduate student days, I prepared an initial transcription of the instructions as a research assistant. Thankfully, my students don’t have to grapple with some of the more eccentric approaches to handwriting in the original copy, and can instead read the 2009 William and Mary Quarterly ”Sources and Interpretations” piece written by Peter Thompson. 
This week Framingham State University held its annual faculty professional development day (known on campus by its chronological moniker, January Day). As part of the day, I and a colleague in the English department put together a session on using social media in the classroom. What follows is an approximation of my half of the discussion, which focused on using blogs in a classroom setting. With the semester looming for almost everyone (though not, apparently, Rachel), it’s a good time to think about course syllabi, readings, and assignments. These sessions are aimed broadly at generating discussion among the faculty across disciplines about pedagogy, so I tried less to talk about how innovative I am (in some ways, not in others) but rather to provide a narrative of my experiences and raise a few questions.