“On any day, a white man could just shoot a black man down and nothing would be done about it.”

14 04 2010

There was a good story about the on-the-ground activities of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee on NPR this morning. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen, and I mean listen. If you just read it, you’ll miss the singing.

Can you pass the Acid Test?

11 03 2010

It was this article that led me to find this site, which has lots of images of posters like this one:

This image is definitely going into my Sixties lecture because you can’t teach the Sixties well without mentioning drugs and you can’t discuss drugs without discussing the Acid Tests.

On a related note, I read a LOT of non-fiction and I really do believe that my favorite non-fiction book of all time is Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. About three years ago, I went to a Wolfe speech in Massachusetts and paid good money to get him to sign my program afterwords. In the moment I had to talk to him, I explained that I was a history professor and that I’d been teaching Acid Test for almost a decade, and my first question in discussion was always, “Does Wolfe like the Merry Pranksters or is he trying to make fun of them?” In answering that question, Wolfe explained that his book was journalism and that he just wrote down what he heard, read and saw.

Perhaps the Merry Pranksters indicted themselves, then.


New to the blogroll: The Historical Society blog.

4 10 2009

A few days ago, The Historical Society blog turned up in the top right-hand corner of my Google Reader page. Having just recently received, read and enjoyed their magazine, I thought I’d click and I’m delighted I did as there is a lot of useful and eclectic historically-related stuff there. [It’s also perfect for Google Reader as they seem to post about every four or five days there.]

What I’ve spent most of my time reading so far are a long series of posts by Heather Cox Richardson of U. Mass – Amherst called “Richardson’s Rules of Order,” all offering advice for struggling undergraduate history students. “Appropriate Behavior” in college classrooms is interesting not so much because it list things I couldn’t have thought of myself, but the fact that’s all there in one (actually four) places, so that I can just link from my syllabi in the future for students who don’t understand these things and therefore don’t have to wrack my brains putting it all down myself.

I’m also grateful for the section on writing a research paper, as I was just thinking that I hadn’t given my own upper-level undergraduates enough guidance like this:

You’re ready to write your paper. You have a thesis: “Custer led his men to a slaughter because he was determined to regain the favor of his Commander-in-Chief, President Grant.” Write that thesis on a sticky note and put it over your workspace, to guarantee that everything you put in the paper supports that thesis. When you get tangled up in your writing, and can’t decide what to put in, that paper will be the judge. Does whatever you’re writing advance your thesis? If not, it stays out.

Absolutely right. Even when you can get a good thesis out of students they always seem to have trouble with the follow through. It’s very hard to explain just because you found it and it’s interesting, it might not necessarily belong in the paper.

The funny thing about that post in particular is that it got posted on July 19, 2009. Who’s writing a research paper in the dead of summer? I guess I can be thankful when I use these posts on Monday I’m not really late to the party on this one.

Buffalo Bill.

27 06 2009

I’ve been at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody Wyoming for the last few days, and just learned about the wonderful resources that their research library has online. The above illustration is from Google Books, but you can find plenty more fantastic stuff about Bill and his legendary show at the above link.

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