Tag Archives: Academics

Never Be Surprised

Academics say the darnedest things… in the cozy confines of the University system.  Impressionable undergrads eagerly hang on every word and grad students serve as willful accomplices as they look to continued advancement.  Peer review is a veiled threat at best, considering the lock step that seems to permeate academia.  Even when a proven fraud like Ward Churchill is called to account, academic circles are reluctant to police their own because of the lofty standard  “academic freedom.”(The investigation revealed that Churchill had received tenure without a PhD in addition to plagiarism and fraud charges.)

Devaluing the term "genocide" since 1978

Devaluing the term “genocide” since 1978

So, say whatever you please, professor… tenure has your back.  History professors proclaim “changing the narrative” as the driving force behind their scholarship.  Everything we’ve learned about America is wrong… so, like a Seinfeld episode of note, the opposite must be true: The founding of America actually had a negative impact on human history, the Founders were greedy imperialists in training, and ALL 15 Presidents before Lincoln owned slaves…. that’s right- ALL of them.

Surely, you jest...

Surely, you jest…

This would come as a shock to John Adams and his son… both from Quincy, Massachusetts.  James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, and Martin Van Buren would likewise have an argument to such an absurd notion.  Millard Fillmore was only in office two years, but slave owning cannot be included on his resume.  Even Virginian William Henry Harrison had abandoned the practice by the time he entered public life.  Members of the Founding generation hated the institution, yet felt trapped by it- Jefferson described having a wolf by the ears.  As the abolition movement grew, later Presidents sought to defend slave owning rights, but their arguments were swept away in the tide.    But, to listen to many academics today, the Presidency was nothing more than the last line of defense for the slave owning class.  Never be surprised at what nonsense seeps out of our universities… our hard earned dollars make this “academic freedom” possible.

 

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Piled Higher, Deeper

What makes an historian?… A collection of advanced degrees? The ability to thoroughly explain research? Published writing in a peer reviewed journal? Teaching eager young minds about the past? Could any combination of these qualify a person as an “historian?”

Tell us Mr. McCullough, what do you specialize in?

Tell us Mr. McCullough, what do you specialize in?

The narrow parameters of academic discipline… create the appearance of rigid professionalism, but in effect, provide only  compartmentalized confusion.  The specialization that permeates the digital age seems to have influenced all reaches of academia.  People no long study history, but must focus on some minute period of it.  The requisite for title of ‘historian’ is now a Doctor of Philosophy degree in some purposely narrowed time period, often accompanied by an equally specific cultural scope.  (PhD in 19th Century Female Labor Patterns-with a focus on the American Northeastern Corridor.)  Shouldn’t “historians” be able to speak intelligently and passionately about a variety of historical issues, similarly, as we expect  auto mechanics to be able to repair all types of cars?

Lawyers can be historians too...if they write the appropriate books...

Lawyers can be historians too…if they write the appropriate books…

The academic job market is shrinking… yet PhD’s are being handed out at record levels.  There is legitimate doubt as to the true economic value of such an advanced degree.  If the requisite skills can be acquired without the crippling debt and limited prospects- shouldn’t there be a reevaluation of  professional guidelines?  The field of history is changing at rapid pace- the professionals taking it on need to adjust to the race.

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How Have We Come so Far?

America seemed to represent the future… yet by the end of the 19th century, we became a people obsessed with our past.  A paradox not easily explained, and frankly, not wholly considered either.  The recent passing of historian Michael Kammen received little fanfare nationally, but to younger academics everywhere, it represented a melancholy turning point.

296144

Kammen’s epic study, “Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture” was standard reading for first year grad students across academia in the mid-1990’s.  The difficult task of explaining why Americans simplify and revere their past was at the core of Kammen’s research- historians agreed with his thesis, students were primed for future frustration.  The Civil War was indeed a transformative event, radically shifting our traditions of remembrance and honor.  Prior to the war, argued Kammen, Americans viewed their past with casual indifference- the Civil War democratized our past- the masses wanted a story worthy of the sacrifices made in that most bloody struggle…American mythology began.

1936-2013

1936-2013

The good academic he was… Kammen was troubled by the wave of popular history that emerged in the 20th century.  His analysis at times bordered on whining- why don’t ordinary folks pay more attention to academic history?  To his credit, he never looked to assign blame- his study maintained an analytical approach- and his conclusions are if nothing else, valid.  But, like many writers of his background, he misses the true point of historical remembrance- pride.  Trying to explain it away with abstract concepts understood only in academic circles  is manipulative.  Our story is a complex, yet inspiring one, and the American people truly feel a part of it.  The study of history is so compartmentalized that it cannot contemplate this collective remembrance.  There is room for all types of historical study- academic, public, and popular history alike…. Kammen’s work proved it to be so… though it may not have been his intention.

 

 

 

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Filed under Book Review, News

Never Be Surprised

Academics say the darnedest things… in the cozy confines of the University system.  Impressionable undergrads eagerly hang on every word and grad students serve as willful accomplices as they look to continued advancement.  Peer review is a veiled threat at best, considering the lock step that seems to permeate academia.  Even when a proven fraud like Ward Churchill is called to account, academic circles are reluctant to police their own because of the lofty standard  “academic freedom.”(The investigation revealed that Churchill had received tenure without a PhD in addition to plagiarism and fraud charges.)

Devaluing the term "genocide" since 1978

Devaluing the term “genocide” since 1978

So, say whatever you please, professor… tenure has your back.  History professors proclaim “changing the narrative” as the driving force behind their scholarship.  Everything we’ve learned about America is wrong… so, like a Seinfeld episode of note, the opposite must be true: The founding of America actually had a negative impact on human history, the Founders were greedy imperialists in training, and ALL 15 Presidents before Lincoln owned slaves…. that’s right- ALL of them.

Surely, you jest...

Surely, you jest…

This would come as a shock to John Adams and his son… both from Quincy, Massachusetts.  James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, and Martin Van Buren would likewise have an argument to such an absurd notion.  Millard Fillmore was only in office two years, but slave owning cannot be included on his resume.  Even Virginian William Henry Harrison had abandoned the practice by the time he entered public life.  Members of the Founding generation hated the institution, yet felt trapped by it- Jefferson described having a wolf by the ears.  As the abolition movement grew, later Presidents sought to defend slave owning rights, but their arguments were swept away in the tide.    But, to listen to many academics today, the Presidency was nothing more than the last line of defense for the slave owning class.  Never be surprised at what nonsense seeps out of our universities… our hard earned dollars make this “academic freedom” possible.

 

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Filed under Ephemera, News

Self-Importance Gone Bad

There must be a special rung of hell… for college professors who assign their own books to a class.  On the off-chance that they actually teach the class personally(grad assistants do the dirty work) students are then forced to pay far too many pennies for the professor’s thoughts in hardback.  Boosting sales, all for the sake of disseminating knowledge.

YES, MY BOOK !

YES, MY BOOK !

There are few, if any… colleges that closely scrutinize assigned texts.  Academic discretion is granted the tenured professors- exactly enough latitude to allow egomaniacs the opportunity to pad book sales and boost the height of their soap boxes.  Rebecca Schuman correctly points out in Slate that these tenured academics are in fact double dipping- taking department money to research and write the books, then royalties from the poor undergrads forced to buy it.  Someone paying more than $1,000 per credit hour should receive more consideration.

 

 

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Self-Importance Gone Bad

There must be a special rung of hell… for college professors who assign their own books to a class.  On the off-chance that they actually teach the class personally(grad assistants do the dirty work) students are then forced to pay far too many pennies for the professor’s thoughts in hardback.  Boosting sales, all for the sake of disseminating knowledge.

YES, MY BOOK !

YES, MY BOOK !

There are few, if any… colleges that closely scrutinize assigned texts.  Academic discretion is granted the tenured professors- exactly enough latitude to allow egomaniacs the opportunity to pad book sales and boost the height of their soap boxes.  Rebecca Schuman correctly points out in Slate that these tenured academics are in fact double dipping- taking department money to research and write the books, then royalties from the poor undergrads forced to buy it.  Someone paying more than $1,000 per credit hour should receive more consideration.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under News

How Have We Come so Far?

America seemed to represent the future… yet by the end of the 19th century, we became a people obsessed with our past.  A paradox not easily explained, and frankly, not wholly considered either.  The recent passing of historian Michael Kammen received little fanfare nationally, but to younger academics everywhere, it represented a melancholy turning point.

296144

Kammen’s epic study, “Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture” was standard reading for first year grad students across academia in the mid-1990’s.  The difficult task of explaining why Americans simplify and revere their past was at the core of Kammen’s research- historians agreed with his thesis, students were primed for future frustration.  The Civil War was indeed a transformative event, radically shifting our traditions of remembrance and honor.  Prior to the war, argued Kammen, Americans viewed their past with casual indifference- the Civil War democratized our past- the masses wanted a story worthy of the sacrifices made in that most bloody struggle…American mythology began.

1936-2013

1936-2013

The good academic he was… Kammen was troubled by the wave of popular history that emerged in the 20th century.  His analysis at times bordered on whining- why don’t ordinary folks pay more attention to academic history?  To his credit, he never looked to assign blame- his study maintained an analytical approach- and his conclusions are if nothing else, valid.  But, like many writers of his background, he misses the true point of historical remembrance- pride.  Trying to explain it away with abstract concepts understood only in academic circles  is manipulative.  Our story is a complex, yet inspiring one, and the American people truly feel a part of it.  The study of history is so compartmentalized that it cannot contemplate this collective remembrance.  There is room for all types of historical study- academic, public, and popular history alike…. Kammen’s work proved it to be so… though it may not have been his intention.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, News