Publication Date

September 4, 2012

Perspectives Section

AHA Activities

Perspectives on History has emerged from its summer hiatus with a banner issue of provocative and informative articles and features. The print issue is in the mail and should be reaching members in the next couple of weeks. Can’t wait to read it? Perspectives Online is here, with most of the printed text.

In addition to essays from AHA President William Cronon and Executive Director James Grossman (writing with Associate Editor Allen Mikaelian), we have Patty Limerick with the first in a fall series of columns from our vice presidents. The Art of History column is reinvigorated with an essay by James Oakes, Sarah Maza argues for shorter books in the Viewpoints column, and Robert Brent Toplin, professor of history emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, reflects on retirement in our column, “The Profession.” Other must-read pieces include the first article on the 127th annual meeting,a portrait ofpart-time faculty by AHA Deputy Director Robert Townsend, an important article on copyright and e-reserves, an update from Gabrielle Spiegel about Russian historian Nikolay Koposov, and multiple perspectives on government transparency and declassification.

As usual, many of our articles are for AHA members only for the first 30 days, as noted below. Nonmembers may purchase individual issues of Perspectiveson History by contacting our membership department.

From the President: Two Cheers for the Whig Interpretation of History
By William Cronon
“Whenever historians seek to make their knowledge readily accessible to a wider world … they unfailingly abridge, simplify, analyze, synthesize, dramatize, and render judgments about why things happened as they did in the past, and why people should care today. But they need not commit the worst sins of whiggishness when they do so.” Read more…

From the Executive Director: Political Facts and Historical Thinking
By James Grossman and Allen Mikaelian
Adapted from AHA Today blog posts written over the summer, an article on historians’ place in journalistic fact-checking: “… in this useful conversation between heated political rhetoric and detached journalistic analysis, historical thinking finds its place at the table to be as uncomfortable as it is essential.” Read more…

From the Vice Presidents: Brought Back to Life by the AHA: “Change over Time,” Gifford Pinchot, and Me
By Patty Limerick (members only until Oct. 1)
“In the terrain of my own soul, ‘change over time’ had acquired an unsettling resemblance to ‘become an old grouch.’ The return to the large lecture class provided the route of escape from that terrible fate.” Read more…

The Art of History: On Changing My Mind
By James Oakes
“‘The problem with people like that,’ my friend said about a fellow historian, ‘is that they have not changed their minds about anything in 30 years.’ It was one of the worst things you could say about a reputable scholar, I thought.” Read more…

The Profession: Strangelove for the Classroom: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Retirement
By Robert Brent Toplin (members only until Oct. 1)
“As a historian with years of teaching activity, I felt a longing for the classroom experience after packing my books and turning in the office keys. Lacking a better term, I’ll call this phenomenon Empty Classroom Syndrome (ECS).” Read more…

Viewpoints: Does Size Matter?
By Sarah Maza (members only until Oct. 1)
“I was trained and began my career in the ‘long 1970s,’ back before monographs were nearly extinct, when great beasts still roamed the land. It was the Age of Big Books.” Read more…

News: Underpaid and Underappreciated: A Portrait of Part-Time Faculty
By Robert Townsend (members only until Oct. 1)
“The obvious importance of contingent faculty to the functioning of our institutions of higher education is not signified by commensurate levels of support from their institutions.” Read more…

News: Landmark Decision on Electronic Reserves for Courses
By Michael Les Benedict (members only until Oct. 1)
What do historians need to know about Cambridge University Press v. Becker? What is likely to come next? Read more…

News: Scholar-in-Exile Finds Temporary Haven
By Gabrielle Spiegel
Former AHA president Gabrielle Spiegel describes the travails of the Russian historian, Nikolay Koposov, who had to leave his home and university because of his defense of freedom of historical thought against increasing authoritarian control in Russia, but who has found a temporary haven at Johns Hopkins University. Read more…

The Coalition Column: Transparency, Declassification, and the Obama Presidency
By Lee White
“As Obama nears the end of his first term, how well has he done in meeting the commitment he made that his administration be the most open, transparent, and accountable in history?” Lee White, the National Coalition for History’s executive director, puts this question to four top openness activists, and Perspectives has their extended assessments. Read more…

National History Center: Historical Perspectives on Space Policy
By Marian Barber
The Congressional Briefing series reestablished its presence on Capitol Hill with presentations by historians on space policy. NHC Associate Director Marian Barber summarizes the meeting for Perspectives. Read more…

Also in News and AHA Activities:National History Day, the 2012 NASA and Jameson Fellowships, changes in the AHA publications team, decisions of the AHA Council, report on the State Department’s Office of the Historian, and the Tuning Project’s summer meeting, and an update on the case of Nikolay Koposov.

127th Annual Meeting
Important updates, announcements, dates and deadlines, transportation and accommodation information, and general tips for the annual meeting in New Orleans, January 3–6, 2013.  Read more…

128th Annual Meeting
It’s not too soon to start thinking about proposals and plans for the annual meeting in Washington, D.C., January 2–5, 2014. Read the call for proposals; learn about the 2014 theme, “Disagreement, Debate, Discussion,” and review the AHA Annual Meeting Guidelines.

In Memoriam
This month, Perspectives is running appreciations of the lives and works of Jerry H. Bentley, Andrew Bunie, Michael Fellman, and Peter Novick.

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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