This past weekend a panel discussion was held at the annual meeting of the OAH on whether blogging ought to be considered scholarship. I didn’t travel to the OAH this year and even if I did I likely would not have attended this particular session since I don’t work in academia and the question and broader topic is largely irrelevant to me. Still, I do interact on occasion with academics and once in a while I have to deal with their skepticism about blogging. Continue reading
First, a bit of good news. Today I learned that my essay, “Black Confederates Out of the Attic and Into the Mainstream” has been accepted for publication in The Journal of the Civil War Era. I suspect I will have to wait some time before I see it in print. I argue that as historians and teachers we need to be thinking harder about how the Internet has changed not only how history is written, but more importantly, how it is being consumed and shared. From the essay:
The success of the black Confederate phenomena can be traced directly to the expansion of the Internet, including access to rich databases of primary sources and the availability of digital tools such as blogs, wikis, and other platforms that allow practically anyone the opportunity to publish a website and engage and influence a wide readership. This has led to a sharp increase in the amount of history published online by individuals and organizations with little or no formal training in the field. As a result, the democratization of history through online publishing continues to blur the distinction between professional and popular historians and challenges any presumption of who has the right to research and publish history. While professional historians assume the responsibility of critically assessing the work of their peers they have yet to explore their role in responding to and evaluating online content. The black Confederate narrative provides academic and public historians with an opportunity to reflect on how they might engage history enthusiasts and the broader general public in an environment that promotes an unregulated marketplace of ideas.
Next week I am heading to Gettysburg College to take part in this year’s Civil War Institute. It’s always a blast and this year is extra special given that is the 150th anniversary of the battle. I hope to be able to soak up some of the sesquicentennial vibe without having to be there in the middle of all that craziness the following week. This year I am going to be working with a group of high school students, who will be taking part in the conference. It’s nice to have a chance to be filmed for C-SPAN, but I much prefer a classroom setting where I can interact with students.
I am going to use the opportunity to introduce students to the subject of Civil War memory by having them compare Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address with Woodrow Wilson’s 1914 address from the 50th anniversary. The text is below, but as you read it think about how you would introduce this speech to a group of students.
- What questions would you ask to frame the two documents?
- What sentences, phrases, or words stand out to you and why?
- What was Wilson’s goal in addressing his audience in 1914?
- What events would you reference to frame the historical context of this speech?
Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts. Continue reading
Just a quick note to let all of you know that I am no longer featuring advertisements on the blog. The two remaining ads on the sidebar will be allowed to expire over the next few months and that will be it. I want to take the design of the site in a different direction. Thanks to everyone who took out an ad over the past three years, especially the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, the University of North Carolina Press, Civil War Institute, Virginia Foundation For the Humanities and Civil War Trust. As far as I am concerned there was never a conflict of interest since I supported and used just about every product. The extra cash was a huge help, especially over the past two years as I transitioned to life here in Boston, but now that I’ve secured full-time employment for the coming school year that is no longer an immediate need. More on that later. Continue reading
Just arrived home from a wonderful 10-day trip to Germany. My wife and I spent time with family in Bremen before moving on to Bonn/Koenigswinter and Frankfurt. This was my first trip to Germany during Christmas and I have to say that this Jewish kid from New Jersey was impressed. There really is something special about the way Germans celebrate the season, from decorating their trees with real candles to meeting friends and family at the local Christmas market. It’s much less commercial and much more family oriented.
The food was simply amazing. I could easily hibernate for the rest of the winter on the amount of Bratkartoffeln and German meats that I ate during the week. And let’s not even go into the pastries, chocolates and cookies. Every morning started with a relaxing trip to the local cafe. No one bothers you with a check or with having to vacate your table. You can sit as long as you like. My kind of place. As always I am sad at having to return. I find Germany to be completely absorbing and I can even envision spending a year abroad if the opportunity ever presents itself.
On this 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation I want to wish all of you a Happy New Year. Let’s make it a good one.
For now it’s off to bed.
You will notice that I am giving the Disqus commenting platform another try. I’ve been using Disqus over at the Atlantic and I have not had any problems. In the past the biggest drawback was the speed with which comments loaded, but that does not seem to be any longer an issue. The interface has also been streamlined, which I like a lot. I recommend playing around a bit by leaving a comment or two on this post.
Some of you will notice that I removed the Recent Comments feature from the sidebar. The standard WordPress widget is not compatible and Disqus no longer supports their own, which I do not understand. I am looking into possible solutions, but for now I recommend subscribing to the comments for those posts that are of interest. You can subscribe via feed or email, which you will find at the end of the thread. Of course, I will monitor things from my end, but let me know if there are any problems and/or if this is going to seriously hamper your Civil War memory experience.