- Stares at our flirts with other women while out with wife
- Compares wife unfavorably with mother or other wives (5)
- Publicly praises bachelor days and regrets having married
- Fails to bathe or change socks often enough
- Picks teeth, nose, or sucks on teeth when in public
- Blames wife for everything that goes wrong
- Angry if newspaper is disarranged
- Talks of efficiency of stenographer or other women
- Teases wife re fatness, slowness, etc.
- Too much a bookworm — doesn’t talk to wife enough
The Chronicle of Higher Education is running a point-counterpoint feature on the teaching of history. The occasion for such a feature is the recent report by the National Association of Scholars, “Recasting History: Are Race, Class, and Gender Dominating American History?”
If you are unfamiliar with all the hullabaloo surrounding this report you can get up to speed here. Basically, the “Recasting History” project concludes that college history courses in Texas (at the University of Texas and Texas A&M University) emphasize race, class, and gender at the expense of other types of history, such as military, diplomatic, or intellectual history.
Jim Grossman, the Executive Director of the American Historical Association, and Elaine Carey, the V.P. for the AHA’s Teaching Division, have used their space in The Chronicle to challenge “Recasting History.” It is a pretty damning critique. Here is just a taste:
Any historian who writes or teaches about the dynamics of power in a context that includes black people is understood by this report to be interested exclusively in “race,” American slavery being merely a “racial” topic with little of consequence for political, intellectual, religious, diplomatic, or military history.
The biography of a prominent Virginia planter is categorized solely under “race” and “class”—not political or intellectual history, fields supposedly underrepresented in syllabi. To study Abigail Adams is an exercise in gender history—never mind her writings about the political ramifications of the American Revolution (much less recognizing that any study of her husband and other founding fathers will be equally gender-related). A classic study of 17th-century Massachusetts—one that has taught two generations of students about Puritan notions of community, religion, and governance—is dismissed as “class” analysis, ducking the “big questions” of American history.
The Great Depression, too, falls into the “class” category, as any study of that period will by definition focus exclusively on workers and employers rather than on banking, politics, and diplomacy, not to mention the history of ideas or politics.
This all seemed at first glance odd, tendentious, and uninformed. Upon careful reading, it turned out to be that and worse
Despite its denunciation of “ideologically partisan approaches,” the report itself is based on an idiosyncratic and ideologically driven taxonomy of the books, articles, and syllabi of historians, compiled with little knowledge of the scholarly literature and even less inclination to engage historians in serious conversation about our work.
Although ostensibly analyzing how American history is taught at two universities, the authors neither attended classes nor spoke with instructors. They did not examine lectures, in-class activities, or audiovisual presentations; their report signals no knowledge of digital materials or discussions, assignments, or examinations. The document tells us little about teaching or learning; it merely surveys reading assignments, many of which the authors seem to have either not read or not understood. Moreover, they assume that to the extent that faculty members focus on so-called RCG subjects, they necessarily sacrifice coverage of broader themes in American history.
The counterpoint is written by Richard Pells, an emeritus professor at the University of Texas. He believes that the “Recasting History” report is correct. He chides the historical academy for it exclusive obsession with social history. Here is a taste:
Nevertheless, what has developed at the University of Texas over the past 20 years is an almost oppressive orthodoxy and a lack of intellectual diversity among the history faculty. The result is that (with a few notable exceptions, like the work of the presidential historian H.W. Brands) very few courses are taught or books written by the current faculty on the history of American government, economic development, or culture and the arts, or on America’s strategic and tactical participation in wars, particularly in the 20th century. Indeed, the Texas department has not employed a military historian since the 1970s.
These are all subjects of supreme importance in understanding the evolution and current state of America. One cannot expect either undergraduate or graduate students to fully comprehend the complexities of American history without serious and extensive consideration of such topics.
In short, to paraphrase the columnist George Will, academics and especially specialists in American history at Texas are in favor of diversity in everything but thought. This is not just an acerbic quotation, nor is the NAS report to be dismissed as a right-wing polemic. The crises of intellectual conformity that Will and the association are depicting are endemic to academic life all over the country.
From where I sit it appears that both articles make some good points. Grossman and Carey remind us that it is hard to place a piece of scholarship into only one category. Pell’s point about the lack of intellectual diversity in the academy is worth considering.
Progressive food writer Michael Pollan thinks so and he is not the only progressive who does. There is even a small movement of “punk neo-feminist housewives” who are reclaiming the role of homemaker.
Writing at The Atlantic, Emily Matchar argues that the current craze with all-natural domesticity–backyard chickens, localism, farmer’s markets, urban knitting circles, home births, and homeschooling–can result in progressives having some “very odd attitudes” about gender.
Here is a taste:
It’s hard to know what to make of all this. Crunchy progressives are arguing that quitting your job to become a homemaker is a radical feminist act, far-right evangelicals are talking about “women’s empowerment” via Etsy, lefty liberal writers are excoriating the First Lady for hating to cook, and dyed-in-the-wool conservatives are giving birth in their bathtubs with midwives and self-hypnosis tapes.
Both sides of the political spectrum turn to domesticity for many of the same reasons: distrust in government and institutions from the EPA to the public schools to hospital maternity wards, worries about the safety of the food supply, disappointment with the working world, the desire to connect with a simpler, less consumerist way of life.
The fact that domesticity is so appealing speaks to the failure of these systems. Until these things are fixed, I predict we’ll see an increasing number of people from all parts of the political spectrum deciding to go the DIY route with their food, their homes, their children. And yes, this will mean more progressive people opting for lifestyles that seem uncomfortably retro. But maybe too we’ll see Rush Limbaugh at the farmer’s market.
Robert George is one of America’s foremost conservative intellectuals. He holds the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and is the founding director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. George makes some very interesting observations about the liberal response to Catholic University’s decision to phase out its co-ed dorms. He wonders if the “authoritarian impulse in some liberal circles” actually “threatens to undermine the historic commitment of liberalism to individual and institutional freedom and rights of conscience.”
But as liberals around the country—not all, but many, and indeed increasingly many, it seems—abandon support for conscience protection and seek to force pro-life and pro-marriage citizens and institutions to comply with liberal ideological beliefs by, for example, referring for or even participating in abortions and providing facilities or services for celebrations of same-sex sexual partnerships, it seems clear that the Rawlsian ambition has been thrown over in favor of a crusade to establish what might be called (following Rawls himself) “comprehensive liberalism” as the official pseudo-religion of the state. The impulse to crush the rights of conscience (where conscience is considered in its classical sense of what Newman called a “stern monitor,” and not in the degraded sense of a faculty for writing moral permission slips) to ensure conformity with what have become key tenets of the liberal faith (abortion, “sexual freedom,” “same-sex marriage”) is the authoritarian impulse I mentioned. (I want to emphasize the words “have become.” Such ideas were no part of the liberalism embraced by such great figures in the tradition as Cesar Chavez, Hubert Humphrey, or Sargent Shriver, just to name some leading liberals from the quite recent past.)
Am I exaggerating the worry? Is the word “authoritarian” or the phrase “crush the rights of conscience” out of line in this context? Well, perhaps we have a test case emerging. A George Washington University law professor who is well-known for bringing law suits to advance liberal causes has given notice to the Catholic University of America that he will be suing the university under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act. And what is alleged to be Catholic University’s mortal sin against human rights? Are you ready? It is the decision of CUA president John Garvey (himself an eminent legal scholar in the field of religious liberty and human rights, as MoJers know) to shift the university from co-ed dormitories to single-sex dorms. President Garvey’s objective (of which this particular change of policy is only a small piece) is to promote moral integrity as the Catholic Church understands that virtue and to combat the culture of promiscuity and alcohol abuse on campus. And what could possibly be wrong with that? Well, for “comprehensive liberals,” it seems, having separate dorms for young men and young women is “discrimination” based on “sexual stereotypes.” It simply can’t be tolerated. Institutions that would separate the sexes in living quarters are practicing the equivalent of racism by imposing on their students the equivalent of the Jim Crow system in the segregated South. Oy vey.
So we’ll see where liberals in general line up on this. It will, I predict, be instructive. Some, I hope and trust, will sniff the odor of authoritarianism and perhaps even speak out publicly against this effort to whip a private religious institution into line with liberal ideological tenets. But how many? Where will Catholic liberals (especially Catholic liberal academics) come down? Will they speak out?
What do you think? Is George on to something here? Read the entire post here.
Mary Beth Norton’s recent book, Separated by their Sex: Women in Public and Private in the Colonial Atlantic World, is being published this spring by Cornell University Press. She has conceived this book as part of a trilogy of works that includes Liberty’s Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women and Founding Mothers & Fathers: Gendered Power and the Origins of American Society.
Norton offers some tips about how to write a trilogy. Here are the basics:
1. “Start a trilogy without announcing it, or even without realizing that is what you are doing.”
2. “Plan a volume that then morphs into two–or three–instead of one.
3. “Write the second volume last.”
Kelly Baker continues her posts on scholarship related to gender and American religious history. In this post, she features six more scholars in the field. Check it out for vignettes on Catherine Brekus, Evelyn Higginbotham, Amy Koehlinger, Kathy Sprows Cummings, Lynn Neal, and Anthea Butler.
See her first post here.
 Jacobs, 114.
Proverbs 31: 13-19, ESV.
Here is one reason why I am glad that I live in the United States.
Ruth Franklin, writing in The New Republic, describes her experience at a film festival in Morocco watching a movie in which two women are stoned:
…When the men awaken to discover the women missing, the entire village is mobilized to hunt them down. Their escape route, which runs along the beach, is entirely exposed, and they are brought back in a fishing boat. Watching the men of the village gather around the two women in a circle on the beach, I ought to have realized what was about to happen, but somehow it did not process. Not until the first stone was raised did I understand. The stoning of the women was staged tastefully, without excessive gore, but it was among the most shocking things I have ever seen on a movie screen. As the scene ended and I sat back in my seat, shaken, something even more astonishing occurred. From the audience around me there came a smattering of applause.
Until that moment, really, I had forgotten where I was. Seduced by the glitz of the film festival, by the charm and warmth of the Moroccans I had met, by my vision of Morocco as one of the most free and open countries in the Arab world, I had forgotten that there is also a different reality here. Engrossed in a beautiful, sensitively made film about the sufferings of two women under the constraints imposed by male society—a kind of Moroccan Madame Bovary—I had somehow failed to realize that the rest of the audience might not interpret the movie with the same sympathy for the women involved as I did….
Perhaps you have been following this story. The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference–a conference whose membership includes schools such as Grand Valley State, Wayne State, Ohio Dominican, Hillsdale, and Northern Michigan–was accused of violating the civil rights of women athletes by making them always play the opening game in weekday evening basketball doubleheaders. The leadership of the conference responded to this complaint, which was relayed to them by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, by alternating from season to season the order in which men’s and women’s teams would play in doubleheaders.
Over at the Front Porch Republic, Darryl Hart offers some interesting insight on the matter. He concludes that whatever you decide to do about gender equality in basketball doubleheaders, you cannot “fool the American sports fan.” Hart writes:
…But not to be missed in this story is the recognition that no matter how much the government wants to empower and affirm everyone equally, you cannot fool the American sports fan. In a link within this story to a blog dedicated to Title IX comes a post from 2007 about the decision of Maryland high school athletic directors to schedule men’s games in doubleheaders before the women. Instead of starting the girls’ games at 5:00 pm with the boy’s game at 7:00, the district reversed the order only to receive complaints from the girls and their coaches. The reason for the complaint? — a mass exodus of fans at the conclusion of the boy’s contest. According to one athletic director affected by the revised scheduling, “If anyone has come to our gym to see a Tuesday basketball doubleheader, then you’ve seen 400 people leave before the beginning of the girls’ game.” “It’s absolutely embarrassing for the girls,” he explained. “I think they would prefer playing in front of a packed house during the third and fourth quarter instead of having an empty gym for the entire game.”
I happen to teach at a place–Messiah College— where the women’s basketball team is consistently ranked nationally and advances much farther than the men’s team in post-season NCAA play. Since I have two daughters, both of whom play hoops, we go to as many women’s games as we can. These games are always played as the first game in the evening doubleheader and we like it that way. We have an early dinner, get to the gym by 6:00, and have the girls home before bedtime. At Messiah College the crowd for the women’s game is often as large as the crowd for the men’s game.
But as a former basketball player, a current fan of both the men’s and women’s game, and a youth coach, I think Hart is probably right. Messiah is the exception to the rule. The men’s game is more popular than the women’s game and while I don’t have any problem with what the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference is doing, I am not sure it will, in the long run, be the best for cultivating a fan base for the NCAA Division II women’s basketball.
What do you think?
Check out Christine Stansell’s review of Bettye Collier-Thomas, Jesus Jobs and Justice: African American Women and Religion
Here is a taste:
The heroic era of civil rights struggles is not remembered as a women’s movement, but watching the old news footage of some demonstrations—the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955, for example—you might wonder why. The public face of the protests was male: leaders, spokesmen, orators. But everywhere women filled the ranks, marching, picketing, swaying to the freedom songs. “[T]he movement of the fifties and sixties was largely carried largely by women,” declared Ella Baker, the legendary civil rights leader, trying to set the record straight. “[W]omen carried the movement. There is no doubt about it,” testified a male leader from rural Mississippi. “I mean, there were some men who stood up, but it was a minority.”
The same could be said of the black church because those were the same women who flocked to Sunday morning services in the Methodist, Baptist, and Pentecostal churches, dressed in stylish hats and prim pumps. Bettye Collier-Thomas’s book shows how central those churches were to their lives, and how important their patient spirituality was to African American politics—and also how restless they were about always playing second fiddle to men. It is an encyclopedic chronicle of women’s efforts to achieve recognition adequate to their contributions and religious leadership proportional to their numbers.
To honor Women’s History Month, Alexander Street Press is offering free access to its database, Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000. The database is edited by Kathryn Kish Sklar and Thomas Dublin , co-directors of the Center for the Historical Study of Women and Gender at SUNY-Binghamton. This looks like a great research tool for anyone working in women’s history.
Hat Tip: New York History
This Mother Jones article explores the topic more fully. Here is a snippet:
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says the women’s exclusion isn’t discrimination. President Jacques Rogge has insisted that the decision “was made strictly on a technical basis, and absolutely not on gender grounds.” But female would-be Olympic competitors say they don’t understand what that “technical basis” is. Their abilities? They point to American Lindsey Van, who holds the world record for the single longest jump by anyone, male or female. (Ironically, she broke the record flying from a jump built at Whistler for the Vancouver Olympics). Their numbers? When the IOC voted in 2006 not to add women’s ski jumping, 83 competitors from 14 nations jumped at the top level, less universality than required to add a new event. But in the same year, women’s skier cross claimed just 30 skiers from 11 nations. The committee added it. (There are also too few male ski jumpers to qualify, but as one of the original 16 Winter Olympic events, their event isn’t subjected to the same rules.)
Here is an article on the subject from Time.
Here are a few articles that immediately caught my eye. I will try to blog on them as soon as I get a chance to read them.
William Huntting Howell, “Starving Memory: Joseph Plumb Martin Un-tells the Story of the American Revolution.”
Anne G. Myles reviews Richard Godbeer, The Overflowing of Friendship
Interview with Nicole Eustace on the history of emotion in the eighteenth century.
D. Michael Bottoms essay on Digital History.
Below you will find the final report on the AHA Conference in San Diego from our correspondent, “The Wolfe’s Tone.” You can read his reports from the rest of the AHA here. If you are enjoyed his posts, feel free to let him know in the comments section. –JF
It is 5pm on the left coast and in a crowded airport those still awaiting the flight home have watched a crazy end to a wild game between Green Bay and Arizona. Here are some thoughts from the AHA-San Diego.
On Sunday there was a noticeable change in attire. At the start of the conference, the established professors are comfortably dressed, but you can spot the junior historians in the same way you can spot the freshman on the first day of class: they are dressed in their best. But by now most of us know that we will be flying around the country without that plush new job, and have taken on a more casual look. I personally donned the professor’s go-to uniform: tweed coat, shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes.
History of the Book
Perhaps the best part of the AHA’s final day is the book giveaway. The conference hosts several academic presses selling their wares. Some sell, some just display. But all need to unload the display books they brought because it is cheaper to get rid of them than to ship them back. Therefore- if you get to the book area early on the final day, you will find many books discounted 50%, 70%, or more. Several presses will give their books away. I am teaching some new classes next year and looking for primary source anthologies. I walked away with several free books from reps who are hoping I will assign their texts. I also found a few books I’ve been
hoping to read for $3 in paperback and $5 in hardback.
Be careful, though. Books are the crack of the historical profession. It is easy to forget you have to fly these things back home. Before I left the book area I gave serious consideration to
leaving behind several pairs of pants to make room for that new Trotsky biography.
The book area is also a good place to pitch your book project (if you have one- probably best not to make something up on the fly). I met a few editors and used some friends to get introductions with others. Take advantage of this when you can.
Course Participation Grade
The Sunday morning panels are sparsely attended. I enjoyed one more before checking out, but it was obvious that many people flew the coup in the early morning. Thankfully, the AHA has no course participation grade.
Panel of the Day
I expected the last day’s panels to be the “also rans,” but I must say that I greatly enjoyed a group of papers on honor and evangelicalism in the American South. A really insightful
contribution came from an Emory doctoral student, Robert Elder. His presentation focused on the way male evangelicals participated in dual societies: evangelicalism and southern honor culture. His basic argument was that historians have over simplified the discussion into an either/or between the two. However the record suggests that men led lives that drifted between these two ideals. This was a really good paper with lots of potential. Another panelist, Wake Forest’s John Hayes, offered a look at Johnny Cash and masculinity in the twentieth century South. Beth Barton Schweiger comments were very insightful. This was an excellent panel on a day when many people, unfortunately, had mailed it in.
It has been fun banging out my thoughts in the late night hours and I hope readers have found some of it helpful. Here is to meeting each other in Boston next year. I’m trying to decide what mode of transportation to use for that trip. Consider leaving your feedback on the best ways to travel to Boston.
Just post 1 if by land, or 2 if by sea.
The Wolfe’s Tone.