The Right Kind of Digging (A Poem)

Managing Editor Julia Frankenbach offers a poem seven years in the making. Originally composed in the author’s sophomore year at Mount Holyoke College, the poem has endured flurries of adjustment, gradually rooting itself in the northern California landscape as the author focused her studies there. Like the unpredictable layering process for British artist Rebecca Vincent’s original monotypes…

In Defense of the Portfolio: A New Gatekeeper to Candidacy

Erstwhile Contributing Editor Alessandra Link shares her reflections on the portfolio comprehensive exam process at University of Colorado, Boulder. Modeled off of tenure dossiers, portfolios provide students with material that they can take with them to the job market. The portfolio process, Link explains, also prompts increased student-faculty interaction., This uptick in conversation should help…

An American Band with Baggage: Drive-By Truckers and the Weight of History

Erstwhile editor Graeme Pente reviews the historical content and engagement of Drive-By Truckers’ well-regarded eleventh album, released in 2016. “Even in times of vast upheaval, things just don’t change enough.” — Patterson Hood, American Band liner notes The Drive-By Truckers’ eleventh studio album American Band (2016) topped numerous best-of lists last year for its fine compositions…

How to run a graduate student conference: RMIHC co-chairs provide a guide

This week, contributing editors Caroline Grego and Graeme Pente share their tips for organizing a graduate student conference. Both have served as co-chairs of the CU Boulder History Department’s Rocky Mountain Interdisciplinary History Conference (RMIHC), which is in its eighteenth year and attracts graduate students from across the country. Graeme was a co-chair in 2015…

The Historian as Writer, in Letters

This week Erstwhile’s Alessandra Link meditates on the creative possibilities and common stressors that touch writers during these unsettling times. Drawing inspiration from Aaron Sachs’s “Letters to a Tenured Historian,”[1] Link considers the seeming tensions between the craft of writing and the disciplinary requirements of the historical profession in a series of letters to a…

Crude Entanglements: The Dakota Access Pipeline Controversy and the Troubling History of Corporations in Indian Country

Erstwhile contributing editor Alessandra Link reveals disturbing parallels between the present-day Dakota Access Pipeline controversy and the long history of covert corporate maneuvering in Indian Country. While mainstream media outlets focus on the legal conflict between the Standing Rock Sioux and the federal government, the oil company itself has slid beyond wide public recognition. Link…

Finding the Words: An Account of UW-Madison’s 2016 CHE Graduate Student Symposium

Erstwhile editor Julia Frankenbach recounts her experience at “E is for Environment,” UW-Madison’s recent graduate student symposium hosted by the Center for Culture, History & the Environment (CHE). Last Saturday morning, an unfamiliar rosy light filtered through curtains. Expecting a rosy sunrise, I looked from my window on the fourth floor of a conference center…

Graphic Histories: Trinity by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm

Erstwhile‘s Beau Driver kicks off a news series on historical graphic novels by reviewing Jonathan Fetter-Vorm’s Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb in the inaugural edition of Erstwhile‘s “Graphic Histories.” Last year, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ari Kelman about his and Jonathan Fetter-Vorm’s wonderful graphic history of the Civil War, Battle…

Re-Membering the Llano: California’s Multiple Histories as an Island

Erstwhile blogger Julia Frankenbach reflects on historical and contemporary notions of California as an exotic place. California has come together more than once. In multiple histories—in matter and in mind—the massive swath of land on the western cusp of North America assembled and assumed a place on the continent. My efforts to assemble memories of…