No, this is not a new menu item at my fictional BBQ shack—or some kind of new junk book store. Rather, I’m using today’s post as a dumping ground for intellectual history items that don’t fit my usual, ironically titled “Light Reading” series—though these items truly are light USIH reading.
1. If my schedule were free February 2-3, 2012, and I happened to be on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, I’d attend this gathering in a heartbeat: “The Port Huron Statement at 50.”
I confess that I had never really done the obvious in thinking about the Port Huron Statement as an object of intellectual history until I read Cotkin’s Existential America (pp. 241-249—even Howard Brick only gives it a few mentions in his better-than-survey assessment of the decade’s thought). Indeed, I hadn’t thought of Tom Hayden as an actor in America’s intellectual history until I pondered, courtesy of George, Hayden’s relationship with Camus. There’s a whole post I “chould” (should and could) write about the Port Huron Statement, Hayden, and the Occupy movement. But I need to work on my own project for a while (even if I get an extension on the last–fingers crossed).
2. Like Ben, I intend on putting page updates here for the near term to hold myself accountable and get motivated. Here goes: I only wrote about 50 words this past week as I cleared my desk of the task of creating my spring term syllabi. But after I put up this post, my day is clear for writing.
3. Happy 48th birthday to our current “FLOTUS.” I predict that someday she’ll be the object of an intellectual historian’s work.
4. I appreciated the following passages from Jennifer Howard’s post-AHA interview with Anthony Grafton, appearing in the Jan. 9 Chronicle (bolds mine):
The Chronicle sat down with Mr. Grafton in Chicago to talk about his presidential year, scholarly directions in the field, the push to rethink graduate education and history careers, and the work that remains to be done.
“The association only matters insofar as it’s vital to the profession and to the discipline—two separate things,” he says. “Nobody’s sure the annual meetings have much of a future.” He would like to see the group become more of a communication hub for members, “a place of virtual discussion and dialogue.”
In a back-and-forth about new directions in scholarship, Mr. Grafton mentioned intellectual history as a trend “which really delights my soul.”
Intellectual history was counted out in the 1970s in favor of cultural history, but it now is clearly a very strong presence, he said.
As some examples, he mentioned recent work on the history of intellectual networks done by scholars like Daniela Bleichmar, an assistant professor of art history and history at the University of Southern California, and Harold J. Cook, a professor of history at Brown University.
Such approaches are “not the way we did intellectual history in the past,” he said. “It’s not intellectual history in its traditional sense, but it’s informed by it, and it’s in dialogue with it. It’s intellectual history plus a social history of ideas. … All of these are fields that are transformed by digital-humanities methods and digital archives.”
…I’d say that some of that “strong presence” is a direct reflection of the work we’ve done creating the USIH conference and S-USIH. …Pat yourselves on the back.
5. Check out the returns on this 1963 survey conducted by a 16-year old San Diego high school student named Bruce McAllister. Here are the opening three paragraphs of McAllister’s story as told recently in the Paris Review:
In 1963, a sixteen-year-old San Diego high school student named Bruce McAllister sent a four-question mimeographed survey to 150 well-known authors of literary, commercial, and science fiction. Did they consciously plant symbols in their work? he asked. Who noticed symbols appearing from their subconscious, and who saw them arrive in their text, unbidden, created in the minds of their readers? When this happened, did the authors mind?
McAllister had just published his first story, “The Faces Outside,” in both IF magazine and Simon and Schuster’s 1964 roundup of the best science fiction of the year. Confident, if not downright cocky, he thought the surveys could settle a conflict with his English teacher by proving that symbols weren’t lying beneath the texts they read like buried treasure awaiting discovery.
His project involved substantial labor—this before the Internet, before e-mail—but was not impossible: many authors and their representatives were listed in the Twentieth-Century American Literature series found in the local library. More impressive is that seventy-five writers replied—most of them, in earnest. Sixty-five of those responses survive (McAllister lost ten to “a kleptomaniacal friend”). Answers ranged from the secretarial blow off to a thick packet of single-spaced typescript in reply.
Read the rest here.
6. What’s on your mind? If nothing above excites your imagination, leave your topic of choice in the comments. – TL