existential crises

  • Confessions of a horse shed historian

    David Hall famously wrote of the “horse shed  Christians,” those people in early New England who, during service, were just as likely to be out back by the horse shed talking about the price of wheat with their friends as they were to be in the church listening attentively.  I’m stretching the metaphor a lot […]

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  • No, I didn’t read that article in The New Yorker

    In the past few weeks, I’ve added a couple more online writing outlets to my list of things to do. I’ve started contributing to Teaching United States History, which I’m really excited about.  I’ve also started something else, with my friend Chris: The Daily Context.  It is a group blog, aimed at non-academic readers, providing introductory historical […]

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  • The American cantus firmus

    There is an abyss between the man about to assume power and the best shared traditions of the country he represents. Source: The Music Donald Trump Can’t Hear In a beautiful piece in The New Yorker entitled “The Music Donald Trump Can’t Hear,” Adam Gopnik advises us to differentiate between the coming changes that we think are […]

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  • What’s the state of our nation?

    Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I was fortunate enough to see Hamilton (thanks, Corinne!), and it absolutely lived up to expectations. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’ve made my peace with the musical, despite some quibbles with the interpretation of the period it presents, and thought about how it might impact my scholarship and my teaching. I thought […]

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  • Who tells your story, or, how Hamilton is and isn’t changing my teaching

    The experience of being a historian of Early America[1]This in itself is a problematic categorization. I study the 19th century, and I am most comfortable with the antebellum period, but my program conceived of me as an “Early Americanist” … Continue reading during the moment of Hamilton has been a complex one for me, and it’s brought […]

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  • “a radical act of hope” is what we need

    If you haven’t read Kevin Gannon’s amazing and inspiring teaching manifesto, you owe it to yourself to stop right now and read it. He outlines the cycle many of us go through, over and over, of being inspired and enthused about teaching, only to fall into despair. As he puts it: “Why bother teaching when […]

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