History Matters: Final Installment

The final installment of the discussion of History Matters featuring a reply by author Judith Bennett.  Now that I’ve (finally) finished the book I’ll admit I was a bit hasty in making my “golden age” comment.  Still, my overall reaction to the book was rather “meh.”  I learned a lot about medieval women’s history, but I think Bennett operates from a hegemonic view of feminism.  I also think she could more thoroughly consider how women of color have problematized the term “feminism.”

Overall this was a great way of engaging a group of women’s historians across various blogs.  I hope this will happen again next year.

Women’s History Book Club: History Matters Part II

bennetthistorymatters1-192x300 Part II of the discussion of Judith Bennett’s History Matters is now up at Historiann.  I’ve only read the first few chapters of the book, so don’t feel like I can comment on the work as a whole.  What I will say is that Bennett, while criticizing historians who presume a premodern “golden age” for women, seems to have constructed a “golden age” model of the development of women’s history as a discipline — i.e. she and her generation were more “authentic” and genuinely feminist than us youngins’.  My professors in graduate school (Cornell, late 1980s/early 1990s) came of age around the same time, but also pointed out the methodological flaws and lack of rigor in some of the earliest works in women’s history.

Look for next week’s installment at Tenured Radical, and the March 23 edition by Another Damned Medievalist at Blogenspiel!

Celebrate International Women’s Day


Today is International Women’s Day.  Here is the official website.  For more on the origins of IWD and National Women’s History Month, go to the National Women’s History Project.  They also have sent out the following proclamation from President Obama:

Presidential Proclamation on Women’s History Month
Obama pays tribute to women who helped preserve, protect the environment
Office of the Press Secretary
March 3, 2009


With passion and courage, women have taught us that when we band together to advocate for our highest ideals, we can advance our common well-being and strengthen the fabric of our Nation. Each year during Women’s History Month, we remember and celebrate women from all walks of life who have shaped this great Nation. This year, in accordance with the theme, “Women Taking the Lead to Save our Planet,” we pay particular tribute to the efforts of women in preserving and protecting the environment for present and future generations.

Ellen Swallow Richards is known to have been the first woman in the United States to be accepted at a scientific school. She graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1873 and went on to become a prominent chemist. In 1887, she conducted a survey of water quality in Massachusetts. This study, the first of its kind in America, led to the Nation’s first state water-quality standards.

Women have also taken the lead throughout our history in preserving our natural environment. In 1900,
Maria Sanford led the Minnesota Federation of Women’s Groups in their efforts to protect forestland near the Mississippi River, which eventually became the Chippewa National Forest, the first Congressionally mandated national forest.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas dedicated her life to protecting and restoring the Florida Everglades. Her book, The Everglades: Rivers of Grass, published in 1947, led to the preservation of the Everglades as a National Park. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1993.

Rachel Carson brought even greater attention to the environment by exposing the dangers of certain pesticides to the environment and to human health. Her landmark 1962 book, Silent Spring, was fiercely criticized for its unconventional perspective. As early as 1963, however, President Kennedy acknowledged its importance and appointed a panel to investigate the book’s findings. Silent Spring has emerged as a seminal work in environmental studies. Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1980.

Grace Thorpe, another leading environmental advocate, also connected environmental protection with human well-being by emphasizing the vulnerability of certain populations to environmental hazards. In 1992, she launched a successful campaign to organize Native Americans t o oppose the storage of nuclear waste on their reservations, which she said contradicted Native American principles of stewardship of the earth. She also proposed that America invest in alternative energy sources such as hydroelectricity, solar power, and wind power.

These women helped protect our environment and our people while challenging the status quo and breaking social barriers. Their achievements inspired generations of American women and men not only to save our planet, but also to overcome obstacles and pursue their interests and talents. They join a long and proud history of American women leaders, and this month we honor the contributions of all women to our Nation.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2009 as Women’s History Month. I call upon all our citizens to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that honor the history, accomplishments, and contributions of American women.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.


Women’s History Month Blogfest: Book Discussion of Judith Bennett’s History Matters

historymattersSeveral of my feminist blogger colleagues have decided to host a blog-based discussion of Judith Bennett’s book History Matters: Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006.) Each Monday in the month of March, one of them will write a post to her blog and each will comment on each others postings.  They invite others to join in on the fun.

The first post, by The Adventures of Notorious Ph.D., Girl Scholar, is Should politics be historical? Should history be political?

Speaking of women’s history and blogging, Tenured Radical announces that  The Journal of Women’s History will be hosting a round table on this subject.  Here is the call for proposals:

Call for Papers: Feminism, Blogging and the Historical Profession. The Journal of Women’s History invites submissions for a round table on the emergence of blogging as a location for critical thought among women in the historical profession; historians of women, gender and sexuality; and feminist scholars who may, or may not be, historians. Participants may wish to address one or more of the following questions in an abstract of no more than 250 words: What role does self-publishing on the internet play in a profession where merit is defined by scholarly review and a rigorous editorial process? What are the intellectual benefits, and/or costs, of blogging? What are the ethics and consequences of blogging under a pseudonym? What kinds of electronic acknowledgement already correlate with established scholarly practices; which can be discarded; and which need to be attended to, perhaps more rigorously than in printed publications? If many scholarly publications and organizations have already adopted blogs as a way of spreading news and inviting conversation, is blogging itself developing rules and practices that will inevitably produce intellectual and scholarly hierarchies similar to those that blogging seeks to dismantle? Does feminist blogging offer particular opportunities for enhanced conversation about race, sexuality, class and national paradigms, or does it tend to reproduce existing scholarly paradigms and silences within feminist scholarship? Finally, are new forms of colleagueship and scholarship emerging in the blogosphere?

The round table will consist of a short introduction, several essays of 2 – 3,000 words, and a concluding comment/response. Abstracts should arrive no later than July 15, 2009, and can be submitted electronically to Claire Potter at tenuredDOTradicalATgmail.com. Final submissions are due October 1. Pseudonymous bloggers may publish under their pseudonyms, but must be willing to reveal their identities to the editor of the round table and the commenter. Bloggers based outside the United States are particularly encouraged to contribute.

Black History Month (satire)

Edge of the American West referred me to  postbourgie’s satirical series for Black History Month, “Know Your History.”

Here is the entry for the sole female in the group, Whoopi Goldberg:


Born Caryn Elaine Johnson in 1955, Whoopi Goldberg rose to fame in the acting world, becoming the second black woman to win an Academy Award for her role in the 1975 blaxploitation film, Blackface Jones and the Temple of Jive. After beating pinkytoe cancer in 1963, Goldberg established Brows(e) for a Cure, an organization that encourages people to donate their eyebrows to make wigs for others battling the disease. She continues to donate to this day.”

Any women’s historians out there want to join me in coming up with similar entries for WHM? Historiann, are you game?  Or has this been done already and I missed it?

Why I’m not at the AHA

Both Historiann and Tenured Radical have posts about this weekend’s annual meeting of the American Historical Association.  Although the conference is practically next door in NYC, I’m not attending, for a number of reasons, including but not limited to the following:

1.  I just got back from a week in Ireland and am too tired and jetlagged.  Plus, that laundry won’t do itself!

2. No travel money — yes, I’ve spent it all already and then some, traveling to Glasgow earlier this year.

3.  I don’t really like this meeting — it’s too big, impersonal, and even if one is not on the job market oneself, the anxiety of job candidates is contagious. I’ve only attended if I’m on the program, interviewing candidates, or being interviewed myself (at my first AHA meeting in 1992).

4.  I can go to NYC anytime I want — and do things that are way more fun than attending conference sessions.

5.  I have a gig at church tomorrow.  Will post a link to the audio file once it’s up.

6.  I’ve got a backlog of Netflix stuff to watch, plus a baby blanket to finish.  So, I’ll be knitting and watching DVDs by the fire.

So, fellow historians — are you attending the AHA, or are you sitting this one out like me?

Taking the Piss?

Hi again folks.  Ortho over at Baudrillard’s Bastard has asked for help with the question, what’s with all the pissing dogs in various pro/anti Revolution images from the late 18th century.  I’ve used the engraving above several times in classes, but never noticed the dog was peeing.  Not being a colonial historian, my only guess is that this is a reference to the English slang term “taking the piss.”  Anyone else have any ideas?

Meanwhile this thread reminds me I have to go walk my doggie. . .