A few weeks ago, I had an exchange on Facebook with Leo Ribuffo about encouraging people to get a doctoral degree. Leo and I are much alike in some ways—I think our backgrounds in the NY metro area account for certain aspects of a common worldview that spans generations. But I am hopelessly more optimistic about the prospects for doctoral programs than he is. I have built a new one at IUPUI in American Studies and the thought of that makes Leo shake his head (not the first time my work has made him do that). Continue reading
The S-USIH Best Book prize for books published in 2016 goes to Jan Stievermann’s Prophecy, Piety, and the Problem of Historicity. Interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures in Cotton Mather’s Biblia Americana.
Stievermann, who teaches at the University of Heidelberg, where he is professor of the history of Christianity in the Heidelberg Center for U. S. Studies, is among the tiny number of scholars on either side of the Atlantic who have explored the riches of the “Biblia Americana,” a commentary on the Bible that occupied Cotton Mather for much of his life. Mather was never able to persuade an English bookseller to undertake the “Biblia.” Only now, in the early twenty-first century, is the manuscript being published thanks to the efforts of Reiner Smolinksi (George State University) and others, including Stievermann.
Please see the full press release HERE.
Every two years, the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture holds a remarkable conference. If there was an equivalent of “must-see tv” in the world of religious studies, this is it. The conference does well because it consistently hits the trifecta for these kinds of events: it invites dynamite speakers, it organizes discussions around fascinating topics, and it uses a format that encourages intelligent, sustained exchanges. Of particular note to the S-UISH gang, this year’s speakers include Matt Hedstrom, Melani McAlister, Paul Harvey, Tisa Wenger, Marie Griffith, and Katie Lofton (the 2014 S-USIH conference keynote). If you are in striking distance of Indianapolis, get thee to the Biennial! Continue reading
The Society for U.S. Intellectual History announces the open call for candidates to serve as S-USIH officers, with terms that cover June 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018. We encourage members who are interested to self-nominate by Ray Haberski at email@example.com.
We are pleased to announce that the winner of the 2017 Dorothy Ross Award for best article published by an emerging scholar goes to Nick Witham for his article, “Popular History, Postwar Liberalism, and the Role of the Public Intellectual in Richard Hofstadter’s The American Political Tradition,” which appeared in The Historical Journal in 2016. In a competitive year, the article stood out for contextualizing Hofstadter’s breakthrough book and enriching our understanding of the postwar intellectual scene. The full citation from the prize committee appears below.
The Dorothy Ross Prize, first given in 2016, is awarded annually to the best article published the previous year by an emerging scholar, defined as a scholar within 5 years of receiving their PhD. The prize comes with a $500 cash award and is awarded at the annual conference, held this year Oct. 26-29 in Dallas, Texas. The Society would like to thank for their dedicated service this year’s award committee, James Kloppenberg (chair), Kimberly Hamlin, and Andrew Preston.
From the Prize Committee:
In this outstanding essay, Witham argues that Hofstadter’s American Political Tradition has been misinterpreted. Although Hofstadter is often placed in the company of “consensus historians,” Witham shows that rather than celebrating the American political tradition, Hofstadter was instead critical of Americans’ excessive individualism and focus on property accumulation. Witham’s essay pays close attention to the New York literary scene as well as developments within historical scholarship. It is contextual as well as textual: Witham examines the conditions of production of the book, including Hofstadter’s political formation in the New Deal era and Knopf’s decision to sponsor the fellowship that Hofstadter was awarded to write a popular history. Witham traces the rise of mass publishing made possible by the “paperback revolution” and the challenge of meeting Dwight Macdonald’s critique of “masscult and midcult.” He shows how Hofstadter worked to meet that challenge by crafting a narrative accessible to a wide range of readers. The American Political Tradition provides a complex and nuanced analysis, laced with irony and tragedy rather than the nostalgia and hero worship characteristic of much popular history. Making excellent use of the correspondence between Hofstadter, his editor, and his publisher, and also examining the reception and distribution of the book, Witham explains why the book was a commercial as well as critical success. This is intellectual history as it should be done. Witham’s article is based on exhaustive research, offers incisive analysis of multiple texts in multiple contexts, and is written with elegance and flair.
[Editor’s Note: The following essay is from Wes Bishop, a doctoral student in United States History at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. His concentration is U.S. intellectual history, labor history, social reform movements, and political economy. The following is a portion of a conference paper recently delivered at the 37th Annual Meeting of the Indiana Association of Historians. For the conference’s theme, participants were asked to think about the legacy of Martin Luther and widespread literacy on the concept of mass human liberation.]
Print and Space, A Public Does Not Make:
Thoughts on the role of literacy in the public sphere
Although historians, philosophers, and political scientists understand that the public sphere is a complex aspect of modern democratic societies, without fail the default setting of thinkers and lay people alike is to treat the public sphere as largely the rise of print culture, and to a lesser extent the creation of physical space. In this way, the public sphere is only really a thing that reflects how people speak to one another. The rise of print and the creation of spaces, like boulevards, cafés, and working class beer halls undoubtedly had important impacts on society. Yet is this what we mean when we invoke the public sphere? Furthermore, what issues arise when we permit a popular understanding of the public sphere which views it as largely a change in space, availability of print, and ability to access that print via literacy? Continue reading
Accepting Nominations for the 2017 Dorothy Ross Prize
The Society for U.S. Intellectual History (S-USIH) is now accepting nominations for the 2017 Dorothy Ross Prize for best article in US intellectual history by an emerging scholar (defined as a current graduate student or a scholar within 5 years of receiving the PhD). The article must have appeared in an academic journal in the 2016 calendar year and may be submitted by the author, editor, or anyone else. The winner will receive a certificate and $500. The prize will be announced in the spring and will be awarded at the S-USIH Annual Conference, held in Dallas, Texas from October 26-29, 2017.
Deadline for submissions: February 1, 2017
By February 1, 2017, please submit the article (page proofs acceptable), a copy of the table of contents of the issue in which it appeared, and the author’s email address to:
James Kloppenberg, Chair, 2017 Dorothy Ross Prize: firstname.lastname@example.org
We strongly encourage electronic submissions (preferably PDFs). But if you’d rather send photocopies, please send one copy to each of the following committee members:
James Kloppenberg, Department of History, Harvard University, 128 Pilgrim Road, Wellesley Hills, MA 02481
Kimberly Hamlin, 125 MacMillan Hall, Department of Global and Intercultural Studies, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056
Andrew Preston, Clare College, Cambridge University, Trinity Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1TL, United Kingdom
The Dorothy Ross Prize is named in honor of Dorothy Ross, a pioneering historian of psychology and the origins of modern social science, and a prominent voice in diversifying our field. Currently the Arthur O. Lovejoy Professor Emerita of History at Johns Hopkins University, Ross takes special interest in working with emerging scholars, so the award aligns nicely with one of her primary interests. Along with several other professional positions, Ross currently sits on S-USIH’s Board of Advisors.
For more information contact:
Kevin M. Schultz, President, S-USIH
And see a pdf of the announcement.
Society for U. S. Intellectual History 2017 Annual Book Award
The Society for U. S. Intellectual History (S-USIH) is pleased to announce its Annual Book Award for the best book in U.S. intellectual history. The book should be a work of original scholarship and should cover some aspect of American intellectual history. Books eligible for the 2017 award must be published in English in the period between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2016. Any member of the Society or any publisher may nominate books for the award. The winner will be announced in Spring 2017, receive a $250.00 prize, and participate in a panel on the winning book at the 2017 annual meeting of the Society, scheduled for October 26-29 in Dallas, Texas. The winning author must be a member of the Society at the time of this presentation.
A copy of the nominated book must be sent to each of the following three committee members no later than Feb. 1, 2017. A separate letter listing each entry should be sent to the committee so they can verify arrival of all entries.
Please see the official announcement for details regarding committee members and addresses.
In a review of Mark Danner’s latest book, Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War, Samuel Moyn questions the focus of Danner’s polemic: where Danner sees American war efforts around the world as a result of a “state of exception” generated in the early part of the War on Terror, Moyn contends instead that US military action is anything but exceptional—it is regulated, legalized, and controlled and therein lies the problem. “What if,” Moyn argues, “stigmatizing atrocity, making military sprawl less offensive to many even as it transcends all known chronological and territorial limits left the conflict harder to rein in? Indicting dirty war by itself [as Danner does in his book] does not reach the core of our spiral—indeed, doing so may help it continue to spin.” Continue reading
The following post comes from Rebecca Denne and Rachel Fulk. Denne is a first year graduate student in IUPUI’s Departments of History and Library Science. She is interested in public history and archives. Fulk is a first year graduate student in IUPUI’s Department of History. She is a teaching assistant with interests in post-1945 American history and women’s history. They were both students in Ray Haberski’s spring semester course on post-1945 United States history.
Immediately after the Cold War came to a surprisingly quiet end, many conservatives (and not a few liberals) attempted to cement the Cold War as a “good war” in the minds of the American public and proclaim a specific place for it in American collective memory. But the American people did not buy into this historical narrative. Instead of acceptance, the public condemned and questioned Cold War decisions and strategies. As a result, historical sites around the United States with the job of explaining the Cold War often apologize for actions of a nation that, at least in the conservative view, “won” the Cold War. Continue reading