Goin’ Down The Road

My blogging here will continue its typically pokey pace for the foreseeable future, as Lisa and I make the move to Canada. The computer I’m typing on gets packed up today and everything gets packed up tomorrow and I expect I’ll be in offline limbo for a week or two. But I have been blogging up a storm, at least by my own standards, over at my LiveJournal, and I thought I’d offer a link for those who don’t know me from there. I’ve written a series of posts looking back on my ten years in Boston, in particular my first years of grad school, and it’s all very angsty and autobiographical, for those who like that sort of thing. The LiveJournal is here, and the autobiography starts here, with yet another shout-out to Ben Franklin.

Be warned: my LiveJournal is not the work of a mature and erudite scholar but that of a feckless and nerdy grad student. Footnotes are never provided, profanity is not uncommon, and in-jokes that I do not bother to explain are rife. There are no permanent links to my LiveJournal from this page, but I haven’t made any great effort to keep the connection a secret, either. I set up this page while I was on the job market, and it made sense to strictly divide posts about history matters from posts about every other thing in my life. After I make the move, I’d like to renegotiate the divide a little between what I post here and what I post at LiveJournal. Not that I won’t have to maintain some kind of decorum here (in fact, I’ll probably remove links to my LiveJournal, or cull most of the more confessional posts, once I start teaching) but my favorite blogs are the ones that have a central topic and a grown-up tone, yet still let us in to the parts of the author’s life. Like everyone else, I’m still figuring out how to do this blogging thing, and just what authorial voice works best for me. Maybe if I bring a bit more of my own life over here, I’ll also feel like I have more to say about history proper at Cliopatria, since right now my most “serious” history blogging (I use that word advisedly) gets diluted between this site and that one, and I often feel bad about that.

But for now, just more radio silence, as we pull up stakes and bid adieu to the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. Thank you, America, it’s been a hell of a decade. See you in Canada.


Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Founding Fathers

I’ve been derelict at posting here lately (what else is the new new?) but even worse about keeping up at Cliopatria. Happily, we just had an online symposium over there, about Barry Gewen’s “Forget the Founding Fathers,” an essay on trends in American historiography that appeared in this Sunday’s New York Times. That gave me a nice excuse to get back on the tricycle and try not to look too shallow next to heavyweights like Caleb, Ralph, KC, and Jon.

Gewen’s essay offers a high-speed summary of American historiography over the last fifty years. He then predicts a decline in the current vogue for fat, worshipful biographies of the Founding Fathers, and proposes a more internationalized American history as a goal. Most of us at Cliopatria applaud that sentiment, though some of us want to go even farther than Gewen in getting out from under the nation-state as the sole unit of historical analysis. And none of us, being typical historians, are very convinced that this globalization thing is really all that new.

My thoughts and those of my eminent colleagues await your comments at Cliopatria.