[Editor’s Note: The following guest post comes to us from Mary Frederickson, who is Visiting Professor at Emory University and Professor of History Emeritus at Miami University of Ohio, where she a faculty member from 1988-2015. She is the author, most recently, of Looking South: Race, Gender, and the Transformation of Labor (University of Florida Press, 2011). This is the third in a series of four guest posts, curated by Sarah Gardner, collectively entitled “Michael O’Brien, Intellectual History, and the History of the American South,” which will be appearing each Friday through the end of March. You can read more about the series here. — Ben Alpers]
During the decades I worked with Michael O’Brien at Miami University we shared many ideas: thoughts about the South, history, the historical profession, university policy, and worst of all, departmental politics. We also exchanged notes on cats and dogs, gardens, spouses, and even, at times, children. He was a great colleague and a cherished friend. I miss his presence in the world a great deal.
But now that Michael is, I assume, not within hearing range, I will tell you that at times over the years I wanted to “put Michael on the couch,” in the psychoanalytic sense. The intertwining of his personal narrative and the narratives he so eloquently penned seemed both tantalizing and intriguing. He would have scorned at this, for as he once commented on psychotherapy: “the therapeutic act might cure, but what is the use of a psychologically healthy author?” Continue reading