We continue our roundtable on “How NOT To Write Your Second Book” with a post by Kathleen DuVal, Gray Distinguished Term Professor at the University of North Carolina and author of Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution.
If you are reading this, you probably have a goal for yourself that in a certain number of years from now—say ten—you won’t be saying to yourself or others, “I don’t feel any closer to finishing my second book than I was ten years ago.” But you probably also don’t want to be saying, “All I have done for most of my adult life is to try to work on a book every spare minute, or feel guilty about not working on a book.”
In hopes of keeping either of those from happening, I suggest thinking of the second book as a job. I mean that in two ways. First, (if you really do want to write a second book) researching and writing it should feel like work that is part of your job, work that you have to do. But second, this book should feel like part of your job in that your job is just part of your life, alongside the other important pieces of your particular life. Continue reading →
I teach at a small liberal arts college in Kentucky. Like many academics, I spend most of my time teaching, thinking about teaching, and mentoring. I genuinely enjoy my students; they are smart, thoughtful, engaged, and generally eager to learn new things. And while the past year has been an interesting one to spend on a college campus, my students haven’t seemed remotely surprised about the political, racial, and class tensions that have occasionally swept across campus.
The following post has been cross-posted from an ongoing series about diet and nutrition over at Nursing Clio. I am grateful for permission to re-post it here; if you have time, definitely go read the other blog posts!
In August 2015, Oxford Dictionaries declared that the word “hangry” had entered our common vocabulary. Surely most people living in the twenty-first century have experienced the sense of being simultaneously hungry and angry. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, hunger was also everywhere. A recent NPR essay examines how slaveholders withheld food from enslaved people, such as Frederick Douglass, because hunger gave them greater control over people of African descent. Historian Alan Taylor has written about periods of famine after the American Revolution. During some of these years of food shortages that Taylor describes, Iroquois clan mothers pressured other Native Americans into ceding land because they wanted “peace and food relief,” as they did in 1785 at Fort Herkimer. Hunger has been, and continues to be, a key facet of power relations. Continue reading →
In their introduction to Slavery’s Capitalism, Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman write that the accumulation of scholarship about early American economic development necessitates “a fundamental rethinking of American history itself” (2). And, for someone who works on the seventeenth-century Caribbean, those words nonetheless resonated with debates very current in my own field of research. In 2011 – the same year that the conference that resulted in Slavery’s Capitalism was held – Latin Americanist John Tutino declared that, “We face a fundamental rethinking of the rise of capitalism” in response to the work of individuals like Dennis Flynn, Arturo Giráldez, and Kenneth Pomeranz. For Tutino, a global perspective on the development of capitalism amends the “enduring presumptions … that capitalism was Europe’s gift to the world,” and “historically antithetical” to places like Spanish America and the Caribbean. Beckert and Rockman recognize in their description of Dale Tomich’s “Second Slavery” the importance of new scholarship in “weaving together transnational and imperial frameworks, the history of capitalism, and the study of slavery as a profit-seeking enterprise” (11). Continue reading →
In a certain village of vast early America, whose name I do not recall, a book fell open. Then another. And another. By 1860, many generations’ worth of American readers had imbibed the two-volume work of Spain’s early modern master, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra: Don Quixote, or, El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de La Mancha (1605). Cervantes’ metafiction of a mad knight-errant, often hailed as the first Western novel, bustled and blistered with originality. Continue reading →
The NEH Doing Digital History Institute took place at the George Mason University School of Law, over two weeks in July. The primary instructors, Sharon Leon and Sheila Brennan conceptualized the Institute as a means to aide mid-career scholars to learn digital tools both to serve as “ambassadors” for DH, and also because digital tools can allow historians to ask new research questions of sources.  This Institute in part, answers calls made by William Cronon, Cameron Blevins, and others. Even as the interest in Digital History grows, there still remains the challenge of accessing digital history training for those outside of elite research universities. There is also a need to expand the number of historians who are qualified to peer review digital projects and to assess them in tenure portfolios.  Continue reading →
Last week, in the first part of this post, I argued that we tend to justify the liberal arts in two potentially contradictory ways. First, we assert that the liberal arts offer tools for citizenship. Second, we claim they point our way to human values that transcend any community. I argued that both of these justifications or approaches are necessary. I also suggested that early Americanists have not found it easy to explain what we contribute to the second approach.
Today, therefore, I am taking up the question I posed last week. Does early American scholarship offer anything distinctive to the liberal arts as a way of understanding humanity at large? Continue reading →