Some Links related to the Historian’s Profession

“History, Historians, and ‘the Current Moment,'” Perspectives, November 2017

Jim Grossman, executive directer of the American Historical Association, reflects on what historians can do in these challenging times. Not surprisingly, communication is front and center, but his suggestion is more nuanced and very in tune with this period of myriad small publics: “Historians know lots of things that matter in the current moment. Find your niche. Identify an audience.” Read the article.

“The ‘Third Resource’: Managing Mental Illness in Academe,” Perspectives, November 2017

“In academia the ‘life of the mind’ is central. But what if a person’s mind operates atypically?” Mark Grimsley, an associate professor at Ohio State University, takes on a subject about which there continues to be a surprising amount of ignorance in academia. Using his personal struggles, he talks about what afflicted faculty members can do to still function and prosper. Read the article.

“Clickbait and Impact: How Academia has been Hacked,” LSE Impact Blog, September 19, 2017

Using the example of Bruce Gilley’s recent clickbait apology for colonialism, Portia Roelofs and Max Gallien show how an academic system that incentivizes practices measurable by certain metrics can be manipulated with social media–fueled controversy. Academics on social media who oppose such clickbait “scholarship” fuel it by expressing their outrage and citing and linking to the offending piece, thereby driving its ostensible influence numbers higher. Read the article.

The term “hacked” in this piece’s title might be clickbait itself, insofar as Russian social media manipulation is not being alleged. Perhaps tongue-in-cheek, the title’s subversive irony works within the specific context at hand. The piece appears in a London School of Economics blog devoted to “maximising the impact of academic work in the social sciences and other disciplines.”

Teaching History in the Digital Age by T. Mills Kelly, open access at University of Michigan Press, 2016.

The publisher calls this, “A practical guide on how one professor employs the transformative changes of digital media in the research, writing, and teaching of history.” The author, Mills Kelly, is a professor at George Mason University, where he has taught, among other things, a course called “Lying about the Past.” The course entails getting students to create hoaxes about history and then seeing how the tall tales get repeated as facts. The learning goal is to better understand sources, the online circulation of ideas, verification, and so on. See the book.