Kanye West’s #SlaveryWasAChoice Rant in Historical Context

Here is Kanye’s appearance on TMZ: A lot of historians are weighing-in on Kanye’s misinformed and generally incoherent ramblings.  Over at Slate, Rebecca Onion puts it all in context.  Here is a taste of her piece “Kanye’s Brand of ‘Freethinking’ Has a Long, Awful History“: Kanye West’s “freethinking” condemnation of generations of enslaved people’s failure to rebel is … Continue reading Kanye West’s #SlaveryWasAChoice Rant in Historical Context

Rethinking the History Survey Course

Steven Mintz of the University of Texas has some good ideas to get more students engaged in the study of the history through the required survey course.  Here are some of them: Thematically Organized Surveys: One striking example at the University of Kentucky focuses on citizenship: historical controversies over the rights of immigrants, voting rights, … Continue reading Rethinking the History Survey Course

A Middle School History Teacher Reflects on Positive Changes in the Historical Profession

This dispatch from the annual meeting of the American Historical Association comes from Zachary Cote, a middle school history teacher in Los Angeles, California.  Some of you may remember his great posts from the 2017 AHA in Denver.  Enjoy!  –JF In perusing the various sessions here at the AHA, I have noticed two things: 1. … Continue reading A Middle School History Teacher Reflects on Positive Changes in the Historical Profession

Stanley Hauerwas Thinks Historically About Bonhoeffer

Stanley Hauerwas, the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor Emeritus of Divinity and Law at Duke University, recommends the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but not before he chides clergy for their lack of theological reading and theologians for their failure to write for the church. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a theologian who should be studied by those in … Continue reading Stanley Hauerwas Thinks Historically About Bonhoeffer

Is Historical Ignorance a Source of Our Political Polarization?

I largely agree with Jonah Goldberg’s National Review piece on “The Dangers of Arrogant Ignorance.” Here is a taste: It is a common human foible to think you know more than you do and to assume that when someone, particularly someone you don’t like, says something you don’t understand that the fault must be in the … Continue reading Is Historical Ignorance a Source of Our Political Polarization?

Teaching Historical Methods to Non-History Majors

This Spring I will be once again teaching my “Pennsylvania History” course.  I have now taught the course twice since we revived it as part of our relatively new public history concentration.  The majority of students who take this course are not history majors. These students are taking the course to fulfill a general education … Continue reading Teaching Historical Methods to Non-History Majors

More Historical Context on the Electoral College

The work of historians in helping ordinary Americans make sense of the electoral college has been stellar.  We have already called attention to pieces by Kevin Gannon and Robert Tracy McKenzie.  Today I want to recommend Andrew Shankman‘s Historical News Network essay, “What Were the Founders Thinking When They Created the Electoral College?” Andy reminds … Continue reading More Historical Context on the Electoral College

“I Alone Can Fix It”: Some Historical Perspective

Some of you may remember our interview with Yoni Appelbaum on episode 3 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home podcast.  Appelbaum is the Washington Bureau Chief for The Atlantic.  He also has a Ph.D in American history from Brandeis University. Today at The Atlantic, Appelbaum applies some good historical thinking and context to Donald Trump’s claim that … Continue reading “I Alone Can Fix It”: Some Historical Perspective

What is the Most Important Word in Historical Scholarship Today?

When Oxford University Press asked me this question I decided to consider “scholarship” in a very broad fashion to include the scholarship of teaching and historical thinking. I chose the word “empathy.” Here is a taste of the blog post on this subject at the OUP blog: In addition to catching up with authors and … Continue reading What is the Most Important Word in Historical Scholarship Today?

Amy Sopcak-Joseph on “Rethinking the Warfront during the American Civil War”

We are happy to have Amy Sopcak-Joseph writing for us this weekend at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in Atlanta.  Amy is a Ph.D candidate in early American history and gender history at the University of Connecticut.  She is writing her dissertation Godey’s Lady Book and serves as the co-liaison from the Society … Continue reading Amy Sopcak-Joseph on “Rethinking the Warfront during the American Civil War”

Premillennialism as a Serious 20th-Century Option For Thinking About the Direction of Human History

Over at Syndicate, a theology website that has been churning out some very interesting commentary and conversation on new books, a symposium is underway exploring Matthew Sutton’s American  Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism. Daniel Steinmetz Jenkins, a doctoral student in intellectual history at Columbia University, edits the symposium that includes Fred Sanders, Janine Giordano Drake, Joel … Continue reading Premillennialism as a Serious 20th-Century Option For Thinking About the Direction of Human History

Teaching Middle-School Kids About Historical Significance and Causation

Causation:  One of the 5cs of historical thinking Jonathan Gold, a middle school teacher at Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island, appears to be doing some very good things in his history classroom.  Over at the “Teaching Tolerance” blog of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Gold writes about the ways he tries to expand … Continue reading Teaching Middle-School Kids About Historical Significance and Causation

American Historical Association Announces 2015 Prize Winners

Congratulations to all.  Here are few of note for readers of The Way of Improvement Leads Home: The Albert J. Beveridge Award on the history of the United States, Latin America, or Canada, from 1492 to the present: Elizabeth A. Fenn (Univ. of Colorado Boulder), Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the … Continue reading American Historical Association Announces 2015 Prize Winners

On the Possibility of Historical Empathy

Chris Gehrz has been churning out some great stuff lately at The Pietist Schoolman.  Anyone interested in history, historiography, Christian thinking, and church-related higher education should have the Pietist Schoolman bookmarked for daily reading. In yesterday’s post, Chris explores the idea of “historical empathy” and wonders whether such a virtue is really possible.  Here is … Continue reading On the Possibility of Historical Empathy

Christine Kelly at AHA 2015: Intergenerational Collaboration as Historical Practice

Christine Kelly returns to The Way of Improvement Leads Home this conference after writing for us last year in Washington. She is a Ph.D student in modern U.S. history at Fordham University and I am very proud to say that she is a former student of mine.–JF After a relatively quiet first day at the 2015 … Continue reading Christine Kelly at AHA 2015: Intergenerational Collaboration as Historical Practice

"Rethinking the American Colonies" at Messiah College: Day One

This week I am teaching a “Teachers as Scholars” seminar at Messiah College.  The Teachers as Scholars program is one of the flagship programs of the Messiah College Center for Public Humanities, one of only a handful of National Endowment for Humanities funded public humanities centers in the country.  Teachers as Scholars bring dozens of … Continue reading "Rethinking the American Colonies" at Messiah College: Day One

This Summer’s "Teachers as Scholars" Seminar: "Rethinking the American Colonies"

This summer I will be leading another “Teachers as Scholars” seminar at Messiah College.  These seminars are sponsored and funded by the Messiah College Center for Public Humanities, a National Endowment for the Humanities-funded initiative that brings humanities-based learning to the central Pennsylvania region and beyond. The “Teachers as Scholars” seminars bring dozens of school … Continue reading This Summer’s "Teachers as Scholars" Seminar: "Rethinking the American Colonies"