Welcome to the History Carnival and to Civil War Memory. This month’s submissions – as usual – reflect a wide range of interests. As I made my way through the submissions I couldn’t help but notice the number of entries that ask the reader to rethink assumptions about a certain aspect of the past or to reconsider how history is presented in various public settings such as museums and the classroom. Such a theme resonates with me given the goal of my own blog which focuses specifically on uncovering the assumptions that guide and shape our thinking about the American Civil War that often go unnoticed and unchallenged. Perhaps the blogging format provides just the right setting for such an approach as authors are free to take chances in testing new ideas on a canvas that can be continually updated and revised. The results are often entertaining, original, occasionally brilliant and with just a hint of the subversive. So, without further delay I present this month’s crop of posts.
What better way to begin than with Charles Modiano’s History’s Hit Job on Thomas Paine posted at CLEAN OUR HOUSE! – Killing the Bigotry in all of US. Modiano suggests that Paine’s outspokenness on issues such as religion and slavery cost him a seat on the short list of American Revolutionary heroes.
In the spirit of James Loewen The Sapient Sutler explores Lies and the Lying Teachers Who Teach Them. The Sapient Sutler asks, “Would a teacher who taught the truth about Texan statehood or Lewis and Clark be reprimanded, or fired?” Read and find out.
Just down the hallway History Is Elementary reflects on the importance of storytelling in Oh, I Love to Tell the Story… Why are they so important?: “Teaching students to evaluate the actions of historical characters is just one step towards developing citizens that can analyze events as their life unfolds—events that effect taxes, waging war, and most importantly elections.”
Rob MacDougall analyzes Madness and Civilization III which is posted at Old is the New New. He argues that computer games are not effective tools for teaching history and then suggests how they could be. Along the way the reader learns that “Civilization’s game play erases its own historical content.”
For some reason I can’t get that last phrase out of my head.
Finally Mark A. Rayner at the skwib presents The Lost PowerPoint Slides (Storming the Bastille Edition). The PowerPoint is written as if it was being presented by Emmanuel Joseph “Radicabbot” Sieyes. I love it!
A number of entries reveal long-lost stories that provoke questions of memory/historical amnesia as well as curiosity. David Mills presents Attack of the GIANT NEGROES!! posted at Undercover Black Man. No, this is not the title of a low-budget movie, but a reference to numerous articles in the New York Times and other major newspapers which referenced the physical dimensions of African-American men in the reporting of various crimes. Strangely enough The Virtual Stoa posted a similar item on the physical measurements of prominent European leaders in European Head Lines: “As Europe drifted towards war in the Summer of 1939, the Chicago Sunday Tribune was asking the questions that matter: just how tall were the men guiding their nations’ destinies?” From the heights of men to a height of 30,000 feet we find Philobiblon’s Natalie Bennett and a review of Kathleen M. Barry’s book, Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants.
The recent passing of Lady Bird Johnson 1912-2007 provided an opportunity over at Al Wiesel’s Rebel Without a Cause – Live Fast, Die Young to examine the former first lady’s influence on her husband’s decision-making. According to Wiesel: “Walter Jenkins was one of Johnson’s closest aides and when he was arrested for a gay liaison in a YMCA bathroom on the eve of the 1964 election. Lyndon Johnson was afraid that it would have an impact on the campaign. Lady Bird was more concerned about doing the right thing.”
Oh how I yearn for those days when the biggest news coming out of the White House was a sex scandal.
Also in the remembrance category is Penny Richards who blogs at Disability Studies, Temple U. The occasion is the 140th anniversary of the birth of the music-hall entertainer, Harry Relph (1867-1928).
Check out Gordon Taylor’s “The Pasha and the Gypsy” by Gordon Taylor posted at ProgressiveHistorians – Front Page. This is a six-part series about the unlikely liaison between Zsa Zsa Gabor and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in the 1930′s. Taylor has “turned up some startling new information about the event.”
Alfa King presents Small Steps… Giant Leaps… « Alfa King Memories posted at Alfa King Memories. King remembers the July 20th anniversaries of both the birth of Sir Edmund Hillary who became the first person to climb Mount Everest and the 1969 moon landing. Speaking of moon landings Tour marm presents I Saw a Man Walk on the Moon posted at The Educational Tour Marm, which offers a very personal take on family and personal remembrance.
For those of you in need of a Victorian fix check out Kristan Tetens who presents Staying On Track posted at The Victorian Peeper, which looks at her favorite Victorian and railway guide compiler, George Bradshaw. Next, The Little Professor explores the physical nature of Victorian, and pre-Victorian fiction in The Material Interests of the Victorian Novel. Just in case you would like to know what is going on in the states at this time head on over to The Vapour Trail for Medicine Shows, or, the Promiscuity of Popular Theatrical Forms.
This month’s carnival includes a number of After-Action-type reports: We begin with Shimshon Ayzenberg who examines The Second Lebanon War: Lessons Learned the Hard Way over at Post-Blogity. Michael Aubrecht reflects on his visits to Civil War Battlefields in Then vs.. Now which can be found at Pinstripe Press. According to Michael “it is far too easy for us to become caught up in the romance of these picturesque landscapes and forget what horrible events transpired on them.” Indeed. Mark Grimsley shares a guest post by LTC Bob Bateman titled Mother and Motherf***er from Blog Them Out of the Stone Age. Last year Bateman reported on the brutal murder of Mayada Salihi, an Iraqi mother of two who worked as a translator for the U.S. Army and with whom he became friends during his tour in Baghdad. This is a reprint of that report which appeared in Altercations. Check out Investigation of a Dog’s use of Google Maps to locate where Lance Corporal William Wenham, 1/5th Lincolnshire Regiment, was wounded and captured by the Germans (77th Reserve Infantry Regiment) on 6th December 1916.
Tim Abbott presents a very different kind of After-Action report in “We’ve Got a Panic on Our Hands on the Fourth of July”: The New Jersey Shark Attacks of 1916 posted at Walking the Berkshires. Abbott recalls saying the Matawan Man-eater 91 years later. This is essential reading for those of you planning a last-minute summer vacation to the Jersey shore. It may have been 91 years ago, but I seem to recall in one of the Jaws movies that the sharks were motivated by revenge.
Four museums/history exhibits are reviewed this month. Sheila Scarborough presents George Washington Fought Here: Yorktown posted at Family Travel: See The World With Your Kids. I remember being dragged by my parents to the Yorktown Victory Center in Virginia when I was ten-years old. Now I can’t step foot on a battlefield without getting lost in thoughts about how it was commemorated and remembered. Steven Cartwright reviews the The Russian Air Force Museum at Monino (pt. 2) posted at Dictatorship of the Air. This is part of a series on the Russian Air Force Museum at Monino. It’s a “field guide” to the museum containing good photos, excellent background on some of the planes and up to date information on the Museum. If that doesn’t interest you than perhaps you should head on over to the Musee National du Moyen Age Exhibition and its Trésors de la Peste noire (Treasures of the Black Death) which is reviewed at My Paris, Your Paris. Finally, John Hawks points out a recent controversy at the Houston Museum of Natural History surrounding the politics of the “Lucy” Exhibit.
Kristan Tetens examines in Agony at Sea Simon Schama’s claim that JMW Turner’s Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On ) is the greatest painting of the nineteenth century. The painting is housed in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Our final category finds us at the intersection of history, the relevancy of that history to our lives, and current affairs. Laurie Bluedorn reviews the book, Ancient History from Primary Sources: A Literary Timeline in Trivium Pursuit » Blog Archive » Evaluating Ancient Authors. She breaks down the selections along the lines of appropriateness for children of various ages. Tim Lacy presents Follow-up: The Eastern Michigan University Rape And Murder Story posted at History and Education: Past and Present. Lacy examines the recent EMU rape/murder in addition to a bit of the recent history on the subject of campus security. David Derrick thoughtful analysis of the ways in which Sharia law absorbed and responded to various cultures during its earliest period of expansion is just the kind of insight we need in trying to understand the Islamic world. His post Stony ground: Roman law and Sharia can be found at The Toynbee convector.
Finally, just in case you are operating under the assumption that modern technology will preserve the historical record in ways that will render our lives more transparent to future generations of historians consider Timothy Burke’s Ubiquitous information and history which was posted at Cliopatria in response to Charles Stross. I leave you with some thoughts from Burke’s post which serves to remind us of just how difficult it is to do this thing we call history. Peter Novick summed it up when he suggested that it is like trying to “nail jelly to the wall.” According to Burke:
“It may be that 23rd Century historians of everyday life will be in a dramatically better situation when they study the 21st Century: they won’t have to guess about what we ate, about what our sex lives were like, about everything we did and thought. Or maybe not. Right now I know that many people watch “The Simpsons”. I can only guess about what they think about “The Simpsons” when they watch it, whether they get all the jokes that I get and in the ways in which I get them. Knowing what people do doesn’t relieve you of the extraordinary difficulties involved in knowing what it means that they do it. Even asking people directly, “What does that mean to you?” doesn’t relieve you of that burden, in part because meaning doesn’t have a final resolution. Consciousness is not part of the datasphere of the 21st Century, at least, not yet.”
That concludes this edition of the History Carnival. The next Carnival will be hosted by Timothy Abbott at Walking the Berkshires on or about September 1. Submit your blog article to the next edition of history carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.
Thanks for dropping by and I hope you enjoyed it.