Where Did August Go?

Some of you may be wondering why I haven’t posted in over a month.  Don’t worry fans, I’ve just been on vacation (in the French Haute Pyrenees, where I did loads of cycling which unfortunately was off-set by a lot of great food and wine at the pension where I stayed.  Either that or I gained five pounds of muscle.  Oh well!)

Now I’m up to my ears getting ready to teach the graduate digital history course (hence my tweet about needing some help from my fellow #twitterstorians), as well as a new undergraduate public history course that I didn’t design but I agreed to teach because no one else was available.  I’m also going through the second most stressful life event on the Holmes and Rahne stress scale.  So, it’s no wonder this month has flown by!

Coverage, Uncoverage, and the purpose of Graduate History Courses

The last couple of days I’ve been in knots because my new graduate history seminar on Sexuality, Gender, and Health in Modern U.S. has only seven students in it — I need a minimum of nine for it to run.  I’ve sent out appeals to colleagues to encourage students to sign up for the course.  The reactions have been so far have been:  our students aren’t interested in gender history; our students are uncomfortable about taking courses with “sexuality” in the title; most of our students are public school teachers who want stuff that’s “relevant”to what they do in their jobs — i.e. teach about presidents, war, and other “traditional” stuff.  They don’t want to learn about gender and sexuality because they don’t teach it in their classrooms. (actually I have a student who teaches at a local high school who is developing a women’s studies course — and he’s a natural born guy.)  This led to a protracted email exchange about what we should be offering for our graduate students.  One of my female colleagues said it best — we shouldn’t just give students what they want or expect.  We should challenge them to take something that is unfamiliar and perhaps even uncomfortable.  [last semester she taught a seminar on the history of religion in colonial New England — which also made students uncomfortable although one would think that this is about as traditional as one could get!]

Historiann brings up some similar issues in her blog entry, “A Manifesto against ‘coverage.'”  I agree with her entirely that “coverage” is an “unimaginative” way to organize a history course.  This is why we did away with chronological surveys in our upper-level U.S. history courses.  It seems some of my colleagues are still hung-up on “coverage” in the graduate level courses, though.  Teach a course on the Great Depression/New Deal, Heather.  That will get the students to register!  Maybe I will do it, again.  I actually inherited such a course from a retired faculty member, taught it several times, then let it fall off the books so I could teach something closer to my research interests.

Ph.D. granting institutions are also wrestling with the purpose of graduate history course work.  Some are requiring students to take courses on how to teach college-level history courses.  Others are trying to find new ways to get students to do more than just tear apart books in class.  What we’re aiming to do is to get students to think and write like professional historians.  I think Lisa Lindsay’s suggestions about how to teach students to read and assimilate material quickly will be especially useful this semester.  I also agree with George Trumbull that broad, thematic courses are a good way to get students to think about how they can make contributions to the field.

Interview Horror Stories

Just read some hair-raising tales about job interviews at Historiann and  Squadratomagico, so I thought I would add a few of my own — all true.

Interviewers:  Don’t schedule interviews every fifteen minutes and then fall so hopelessly behind that you have several candidates in the “pit” waiting area at the same time.

Interviewees:  Please recognize that your interviewers have other appointments to keep. So, if they start winding down the interview, please don’t say “I’m  not done yet” and continue to blather on ad infinitum.  Under no circumstances follow your interviewer to the rest room so you can squeeze in more interview time.

Interviewers:  The candidate’s job talk is not the time to open your mail, read the newspaper, or grade exams.  If you can’t be bothered to pay attention to what the candidate has to say, don’t bother showing up at all.

Interviewees:  If you don’t get the job, and then see one of your interviewers at a future conference, please don’t come over to hir restaurant table and drunkenly ask hir why you didn’t get the job.

Interviewers:  Don’t complain about the boorish behavior of retired faculty members, no matter how much they disgust you.  This is especially important when you’re interviewing that person’s replacement.

Interviewees:   Don’t ignore the female faculty during dinner — this is especially important if one of them is chair of the department.

I’m sure there are others just as frightening but I’ve managed to repress them for now.  Feel free to add some of your own in the comments section.

Happy New Year

Hi Readers,

I thought I was only kidding a few posts ago when I said this was a slow blog, but somehow the rest of December got away from me!  Now that the holidays, grading, and an awesome trip to Ireland are now past,  I plan to have more regular posts, at least until the next semester starts again.

As to New Year’s itself, we proved to be our usual old-fart selves and had an early night since we had to be up before dawn to get our flight back to the U.S.A.   I’ll be posting more trip details and photos soon.

Post Thanksgiving Food Meme

Courtesy of Pennamite.  Put “foods I’ve tried” in bold. Put “foods I would like to try” in italics. Then tally your score. Mine is 64%.  Bon appetit!

1.  Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81.  Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers (Nasturtiums, roses, artichokes, lavender)
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Mohawk Thanksgiving Address

Courtesy of Tuscarora and Six Nations Website:

The following version of the Thanksgiving Address
was sent by the Mohawk Nation and the Haudenosaunee Grand Council
via Chief Jake Swamp to the Fourth Russell Tribunal,
Rotterdam, The Netherlands, November, 1980.


We who have gathered together are responsible that our cycle continues. We have been given the duty to live in harmony with one another and other living things. We give greetings that our people still share the knowledge of our culture and ceremonies and are able to pass it on. We have our elders here and also the new faces yet to be born, which is the cycle of our families___for this we give thanks and greetings. Now our minds are one.


We give greetings and thanks to our Mother the Earth___she gives us that which makes us strong and healthy. We are grateful that she continues to perform her duties as she was instructed. The women and Mother Earth are one___givers of life. We are her color, her flesh and her roots. Now our minds are one.


We greet and thank the medicine plants of the earth. They have been instructed by the Creator to cure our diseases and sicknesses. Our people will always know their native names. They come in many forms and have many duties. Through the ones who have been vested with knowledge of the medicine plants, we give thanks. Now our minds are one.

We give greetings and thanks to the plant life. Within the plants is the force of substance that sustains many life forms. From the time of the creation we have seen the various forms of plant life work many wonders. We hope that we will continue to see plant life for the generations to come. Now our minds are one.

We give a greetings and thanks to the strawberry plants. We see them when the wind becomes warm again on the earth; the strawberries are indeed hanging there. And it is also true that we use them, that we drink the (straw)berry water. Now our minds are one.


We have been given three main foods from the plant world___they are the corn, beans, and squash___the Three Sisters. For this we give thanks and greetings in the hope that they too will continue to replenish Mother Earth with the necessities of the life cycle. Now our minds are one.


We give thanks to the spirit of waters for our strength of well being. The waters of the world have provided many things___they quench our thirst, provide food for the plant life, and are the source of strength for the medicines we need. Now our minds are one.


We give thanks and greetings to the animal life. They are still living in the forests and other places. They provide us with food and this gives us peace of mind knowing that they are still carrying out their instructions as given by the Creator. We therefore give greetings and thanks to our animal brothers. Now our minds are one.


We acknowledge and give greetings to the trees of the world. They too continue to perform the instructions which they were given. The maple trees are the symbols as the head of the trees. It is the maple trees that provide us with sap for our syrup and is the first sign of the rebirth of spring. The trees provide us with shelter, shade, and fruits. Long ago our people were given a way of peace and strength and this way is symbolized by the everlasting tree of peace. Now our minds are one.


We now turn our thoughts toward the winged creatures. They have songs which they sing to help us appreciate our own purpose in life. We are reminded to enjoy our life cycle. Some of the winged are available to us as food and they too are carrying out their responsibilities. To us the eagle is the symbol of strength. It is said that they fly the highest and can see the creation. We show our gratitude for the fulfillment of his duties. Now our minds are one.


We listen and hear the voices of the four winds. We are assured that they are following the instructions of the Creator. They bring us strength. They come from the four directions. For this we give greetings and thanks. Now our minds are one.


To the Thunderers we call our Grandfathers we give greetings and thanks. You have also been given certain responsibilities by the Creator. We see you roaming the sky carrying with you water to renew life. Your loud voices are heard from time to time and for the protection and medicine you give, we offer our thanksgiving. Now our minds are one.


Our thoughts now turn to the sky. We see the sun, the source of life. We are instructed to call him our Eldest Brother. With the sun we can see the perfect gifts for which we are grateful. Our Brother sun nourishes Mother Earth and is the source of light and warmth. Our Brothers is the source of all fires of life. With every new sunrise is a new miracle. Now our minds are one.


During the night time we see the moon. We have been instructed to address her as our Grandmother. In her cycle she makes her face new in harmony with other female life. Our Grandmother Moon still follows the instructions of the Creator. Within these are the natural cycles of women. She determines the arrival of children, causes the tides of the oceans and she also helps us measure time. Our Grandmother continues to lead us. We are grateful and express our thanksgiving. Now our minds are one.


The Stars are the helpers of Grandmother Moon. They have spread themselves all across the sky. Our people knew their names and their messages of future happenings even to helping to mold individual character of mankind. The Stars provide us with guidance and they bring the dew to the plant life. As we view the beauty of the Stars we know that they too are following the instructions of the Creator. Now our minds are one.


The four powerful spirit beings who have been assigned by the Creator to guide us both by day and night are called the Sky Dwellers. Our Creator directed these helpers to assist him in dealing with us during our journey on Mother Earth. They know our every act and they guide us with the teachings that the Creator established. For the power of direction, we give greetings and thanks to the Sky Dwellers. Now our minds are one.


We now turn our thoughts to the Creator himself. We choose our finest words to give thanks and greetings to him. He has prepared all things on earth for our peace of mind. Then he said, “I will now prepare a place for myself where no one will know my face, but I will be listening and keeping watch on the people moving about the earth.” And indeed, we see that all things are faithful to their duties as he instructed them. We will therefore gather our minds into one and give thanks to the Creator. Now our minds are as one.

Drinking at UConn

I don’t subscribe to the Hartford Courant, so it was only by chance that I saw this article on drinking and Spring weekend at the University of Connecticut while I was getting my oil changed this morning.  I agree with the comments section — this really isn’t surprising.  What’s surprising is that college officials are surprised.  Many of the comments to the article come from alumni.  I especially like this one:

“The difference 25 years ago was that the main partying was confined to the dorms and the internal quads on campus. In general the state police were not involved and the Residence Hall staff could target the trouble makers so there was more control — most of the time.

When drinking got banned from organized UConn events it pushed the partying to less controlled neighborhood property and a greater number of students felt there was no consequences for their actions.”

The report mentions the Amethyst Initiative which suggests lowering the drinking age will combat the underground culture of binge drinking.  It remains to be seen whether UConn will adopt this or not.  I agree with the report that education about alcohol should begin early — but one would hope that the message would be that moderate alcohol consumption is the norm for the majority of adults.

Sometimes being a Pain gets results

A few posts ago I complained about the Chronicle of Higher Education ignoring messages from me and my editors about my new book.  After several more futile attempts to contact them, I finally posted my frustrations on the Chronicle’s online forum.  Within a few hours the scholarly book editor replied. Since the book has been out for a year though, it won’t get listed.

Now, the online publication, Inside Higher Education, was more on the ball — and published an interview with me in February 2008.  And folks wonder why print media is dying. . .

Added later:  So, here’s the full story.  Shortly after the book came in December 2007, the UMP marketing department sent a copy to the Chronicle, along with copies to other periodicals including IHE.  The first copy never got to the right person, so noticing that the book had not appeared in the list of scholarly books, we sent another copy  in August.  Still no listing.  No answers to my follow-up emails to the book editor (the excuse –the editor was out of the country.  Yeah, well so was I but I still managed to get back to people on my return!).  No response at all until I posted on the online forum.

So, the lesson here for other authors out there — be obnoxious proactive from the get go.  Call the editors the week after your press sends the book to make sure they received it.  Call every week until the book appears, and follow that up with an email so that you have a record.  Raise a stink until you get results.

All Together Now — Facebook App for WordPress

Hi folks,

This is a test post using the WordPress Facebook application, as suggested by the “All Together Now”: A 2.0 Learning Experience” on the School Library Journal blog. I signed up for this experience to see what they’re offering that would be useful for my digital history course this fall, but have mostly been lurking because of vacation, other commitments, and because I know much of this stuff already.

I think some of the Facebook applications are interesting — as you can see I’ve also added my Del.icio.us account to my profile — but other than providing a convenient location it’s not really an improvement on the apps themselves. I use Facebook mainly as a way to communicate with students and send out announcements for the WGSS program, but use the “old folks” method — i.e. email — for everything else.

In fact, I find the Facebook interface for my blog rather annoying because I can’t put in any links or pictures or get into the HTML editor. In short, future posts will be done the old fashioned way!

[P.S. added later in regular mode — this post from Libraryman pretty much confirms my thoughts on this issue]