Categories
Historical Expertise

R. G. Collingwood on Historical Practice

In my efforts to articulate what makes history distinct from other disciplines I have started reading some older literature on the philosophy of history. Although this literature is no longer in vogue, it might still be relevant in distinguishing history from non-history. I am focusing on historical methods and practices because I think these will […]

Categories
Academia

More on David Levy’s Delusions

My post yesterday joined a chorus of voices pointing out David Levy’s many delusions and errors. Here are a few of the interesting ones: Attacking Community Colleges by Henry Farrell at Crooked Timber The Last Enclosures> at Timothy Burke’s Easily Distracted More Accusations of Professor Laziness at NeuroDOJO In Which the Professor Expresses Her Frustration […]

Categories
Press and Pop Culture

David Levy is Frighteningly Wrong about Faculty Labor

In his recent Op-Ed in the Washington Post, “Do College Professors Work Hard Enough?” David Levy parrots banal misconceptions about what is required of college faculty and how those faculty spend their time. He reduces a faculty career to teaching and assumes that teaching is nothing more than the hours spent in the classroom and […]

Categories
Historical Expertise

Columbus’s Voyage was a Religious Journey

Despite President Obama’s recent suggestion, Columbus was anything but an unproblematic spokesman for innovative, modern, secular thought. Columbus was, instead, motivated by conservative prophetic and apocalyptic fears. He considered his voyage across the ocean as part of an effort to convert all the races of the world to Christianity before the end of the world. […]

Categories
Historical Expertise

Why the Flat Earth Myth Bugs Me

President Obama’s recent suggestion that Columbus proved the earth is round continues to bother me for a number of reasons. In this case, when he appears to be speaking without a script, his words reflect his own lack of historical knowledge. That it wasn’t immediately seized upon as a significant mistake suggests that many people […]

Categories
Collections

Another NY Times Article on Museums

The NY Times is once again covering museums. The latest article, “In Texas Tradition, Museums That Enshrine the Quirky,” underscores how any collection of things can be displayed and called a museum. Apparently, collectors in Texas take seriously the American Association of Museums’ criteria that to be a museum it must make a “unique contribution […]

Categories
Press and Pop Culture

The Mythical Flat Earth Past

The common claim that Columbus proved that the earth was round is the zombie myth from hell. It refuses to die. Every year students arrive in my intro class having been taught that people in the Middle Ages believed the earth was flat and that Columbus proved them wrong. This past semester, every student believed […]

Categories
Speaking

Philadelphia Science Festival

Next month is the second Philadelphia Science Festival. Once again, one of the events will feature a group of historians of science paired with comedians from the Philly Improv Theater. In last year’s show, “Seemed Right at the Time,” historians picked some episode in from the history of science and explained how it was rational […]

Categories
Writing

Creativity, Inspiration, and Persistence

I am once again thinking about the value of persistence. My students had to hand in papers today. Although I encouraged them to hand in drafts—I’ve never had much success in requiring drafts—and tried to scare them into taking me up on my offer, a minority gave me a draft. As a result, I fielded […]

Categories
Historical Expertise

Is Everyone a Historian?

I worry, constantly worry, about what makes any form of history—though I am most concerned with the history of science—a distinct discipline with a particular expertise. Both a broad, non-academic public and the more narrow academic audience fail to recognize history’s unique methodological and philosophical approaches or the historian’s unique domain of expertise. Perhaps because […]