Erstwhile editor Sam Bock compiles and comments on a short list of links related to history and working in academia.
Following up on our very own Alessandra Link’s discussion of the troubling history of corporations in Indian Country, we present Bradley J. Sommer’s reflections on the recent decision by North Dakota’s Governor to call up the National Guard in response to ongoing protests against the Dakota Access pipeline. Sommer reminds us that, for much of its history, the National Guard has been deployed to defend financial interests of corporations. Sommer’s poignant description of a 1934 standoff between National Guard troops – who turned out to be little more than teenagers – and striking auto workers in Toledo invites reflection on the latest confrontation between citizens and then National Guard at Standing Rock. Though, as Sommer reminds his readers, violence has occurred between American Indian protesters and private security forces and not the North Dakota National Guard, the struggle at Standing Rock has the potential to ignite a sort of civil violence that is sadly too familiar in American History.
Mad Skills: How Historians Are Like Swiss Army Knives by Lincoln Bramwell
While Erstwhile was on vacation, Lincoln Bramwell of the U.S. Forest Service penned an excellent articulation of the myriad benefits an advanced degree in history can offer to those seeking employment outside of the academy. For Bramwell, lessons in intellectual flexibility and curiosity translated well to government work. Bramwell, author of Wilderburbs: Communities on Nature’s Edge insists that traditional academic training in graduate programs needs to be paired with “opportunities to work outside the classroom and connect with the surrounding community.”
Cruelty and Kindness in Academia by Kelly J. Baker
Kelly J. Baker reflects this week on the role of kindness in the academy. Baker’s central point is that academia can be a cutthroat, zero-sum kind of place in which intelligence and ambition are valued above collaboration and kindness. Being kind, Baker hypothesizes, can be taken as a sign of intellectual weakness in a workplace that often rewards a colder, more ruthless kind of intelligence.
Tenure-Track Wisdom: Emily Van Duyne by Dan Royles
Dan Royless’s excellent series “Tenure-Track Wisdom” features interviews with first-year assistant professors navigating their way through a strange new world. This week’s interviewee, Emily Van Duyne, offers a deeply personal reflection on the winding path that led her to her job as an assistant professor of writing at Stockton University in New Jersey.