AHA Today

What We’re Reading: June 4, 2009 Edition

AHA Staff | Jun 4, 2009

PhD Comics In the current economy there has been a lot of attention on the housing bubble bursting, and in the first article we link to this week two authors from the Chronicle ask, “Will Higher Education be the Next Bubble to Burst?” Also looking at the future and universities, Phil Pochoda considers what’s in store for university presses. We also link to two Civil War related pieces: thoughts on the centennial commemoration with an eye toward the Civil War sesquicentennial, and a look at women who fought in the Civil War. Then, read about visual gems in Google Books, the Google Books settlement, cycling the Underground Railroad, Donna Reed’s saved fan mail, space monkeys, the end of the Reading Archives blog, and a history of GM CEOs. Finally, just for fun, check out PhDComics.com, for series of comics where a humanities character faces budget cuts.

  • Will Higher Education be the Next Bubble to Burst?
    Joseph Marr Cronin and Howard E. Horton at the Chronicle look at how “over the past 25 years, average college tuition and fees have risen by 440 percent” and ask, “Will Higher Education be the Next Bubble to Burst?”
  • University Press 2.0 by Phil Pochoda
    The head of University of Michigan Press offers an intriguing survey of the future of the presses in a time of digital transition, looking to the possibilities and risks of the transition.
  • The Civil War Sesquicentennial
    Looking towards the U.S Civil War’s sesquicentennial, historian David W. Blight reflects on the failures of the 1961-65 centennial commemoration. Blight reports from "America on the Eve of the Civil War," the first of six annual symposiums planned by the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission and historian Edward L. Ayers. Blight argues that this is an opportunity for historians to help the public move beyond the usual banalities of celebrations of valor and The Lost Cause, and look more carefully at the causes and enduring legacy of the Civil War. In somewhat related news, President Barack Obama has signed legislation creating a commission to plan for the Reagan Centennial.
  • Civil War Women Fought Like Men for Freedom
    Jennie Hodgers, more commonly known as Albert D.J. Cashier, represented one of the hundreds of women soldiers in the Civil War who hid their identities in order to fight in the Civil War. Hodgers, an Irish immigrant with limited resources, found that maintaining her male alter-ego allowed her freedoms she wouldn’t have otherwise received—working, voting, and opening a bank account.
  • Books Are Full of Visual Gems
    The Inside Google Book Search blog has been running an interesting series on "visual gems" in books (see the Old School Transportation edition and the Sea Creatures edition). Regrettably (or not, depending on your view of the proposed settlement) the agreement with authors will not extend to possible in-copyright images in books.
  • Google Books Search settlement and access to out of print books
    Speaking of the Google Books settlement, and some of the snags, Derek Slater, policy analyst at Google offers an explanation of the potential benefit to readers seeking out of print and orphan works. On the same subject, over at Siva Vaidhyanathan’s Googlization of Everything blog, you can find video of a recent talk by Pamela Samuelson (Univ. of California, Berkeley) weighing the pros and cons of the proposed deal.
  • Two Thousand Mile Bike Ride through History
    Still can’t decide what to do for summer vacation? Love history and cycling? The Adventure Cycling Association is offering maps and organized tours of the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route from Mobile, Alabama to Owen Sound, Ontario. New York Times travel writer Jennifer Bleyer reports from the road.
  • Donna Reed and her Fan Mail
    Though the beautiful and glamorous World War II pinup girls were intended to pick up spirits, it was Donna Reed’s girl-next-door image that comforted soldiers the most. The letters to the sweet Hollywood actress poured in by the hundreds, many of which Ms. Reed set aside in a shoebox, which her children would find decades later. “Ms. Reed held on to 341 letters, some typed but many written in the kind of elegant Palmer method cursive script rarely seen today. Taken as a whole, the correspondence offers a candid glimpse of a vanished era, a time when six hard-bitten Marine sergeants could write that ‘we think you’re swell’ and mean it in something other than an ironic sense.”
  • After 50 Years, Space Monkeys Not Forgotten
    NPR takes a look back at some of the first space travelers—monkeys.
  • Reading Archives – Signing Off
    Sadly, Richard J. Cox (Univ. of Pittsburgh) announces he will be signing off his always-interesting Reading Archives blog after 250 posts on the profession.
  • A History of GM’s CEOs
    Alfred P. Sloan Jr., nominated GM president and chief executive in 1923, kicks off this pictorial journey through the history of GM’s CEOs.
  • PhD Comics: Budget Cuts
    PhD Comics recently concluded a series where its humanities character had to justify his existence in the wake of tough economic times. It all starts off with a letter: “We regret to inform you that, due to the Economic Crisis, funding for all Humanities characters has been cut…” Here are links to each part in the series: May 8, May 11, May 13, May 15, and May 22.

Contributors: David Darlington, Debbie Ann Doyle, Elisabeth Grant, Vernon Horn, Jessica Pritchard, and Robert B. Townsend

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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