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Course Schedule 2: February


February 3: Email the following to Claire Potter in an attached Word document (clearly labeled with your name): Choose one or two of the collections listed here that you would like to work with and say why. Indicate whether you would prefer to work alone, in a pair or in a larger group.  Don’t see a collection that appeals to you?  Go to the NYPL Manuscripts and Archives homepage and pick another one.  Your only restriction is that it has to be within the scope of our class so that you can be in conversation with the rest of us.

February 5: The Practice of Community Scholarship

What is “community history” and why does it matter to historians, activists and members of an identifiable community? What ethical principles does it embody? Finally, what are the ethical responsibilities of universities toward their communities  — and the public more generally? How do we make what we do accessible to others?

  • John D’Emilio and Estelle B. Freedman, “Allan Berube and the Power of Community History,” in Allan Berube, My Desire for History: Essays in Gay, Community, & Labor History, edited D’Emilio and Freedman (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011), 1-37.
  • David Scobey, “In Here/Out There: The Place of Scholarship in a Democracy (or, Why Maurice Chevalier Came to Town),” text of a lecture given at Concordia University, March 17 2011.

From 5:00 – 5:50, we will be joined by David Scobey, who will talk to us about “In Here/Out There” and how our research and fits into the vision of a civically engaged university community.

February 12: History as a Living Thing

How do we think about representing a past that is, as Renee Romano says in her article, “not dead yet”? This week we begin to address what we can learn from people who already practice recent history, who put their scholarship in the center of ongoing activisms, and who seek to shape the terms of the debate by understanding where ideology has shaped notions of fat and truth.

  • Claire Potter and Renee C. Romano, “Just Over Our Shoulder: The Pleasures and Perils of Writing the Recent Past,” DRH, 1-19.
  • Renee Romano, “Not Dead Yet: My Identity Crisis as a Historian of the Recent Past,” DRH, 23-44.
  • Sara Dubow, “Introduction: Fetal Stories” and “Debating Fetal Pain, 1984-2007,” Ourselves Unborn: A History of the Fetus in Modern America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 1-9; 153-183.

From 4-5:00 we will be joined by Sara Dubow, associate professor of history at Williams College.

Abortion, and the rights of potentially human organisms represent a longstanding, volatile debate with a long past and an unresolved future. Historians have an important, and charged, role in a very public debate through which activists defend different, and deeply felt, beliefs about human life. Bring your questions about the making of this book, as well as the aftermath of its publication, to Professor Dubow, who will join us for the last hour of class.

February 17:  On the blog, comment on the rules of using the National Archives in Washington, D.C.  Which ones seem right to you? Which seem obscure? Do any  seem stupid or pointless? How would you prepare to visit an archive? Feel free to comment on other people’s posts as well.

February 19: Archives Workshop Session at NYPL 

We will meet with Thomas Lannon, our course collaborator, who will give us an introduction to doing archival research at the New York Public Library. Please gather at the north entrance (on 42nd street ) at 3:50 so that we can go into the building together.

February 22-23:  you may wish to attend a session of the NSPE symposium honoring the fiftieth anniversary of Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique. If you do, consider blogging about it for us

February 26: Historians In, With and For the Public

From 4:00 to 5:00, we will be joined by Professor Heathcott. Questions I have asked him to think about are:

  • How the photograph featured in “The Archival Uncanny”came into his hands;
  • What moved him to write this piece; how it took the shape it did; and what led him to the questions he asked of the photograph;
  • Who he imagined he would reach with the essay, and why he want to do it as a digital publication;
  • How he thinks about the distinctions between “traditional” scholarly publishing and publishing scholarly work on the web;
  • What it means to put something “private” (i.e., the history of one’s own family) out in “public.”
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