Category Archives: Academia

On Harvard and Admission

Longer comment tomorrow, if I have time; and maybe also on the debate over the essay “The Case of Colonialism”. But in the interim, a quick thought on Harvard not admitting a promising student. ————————- Considering that Harvard is in … Continue reading

Posted in Academia | 1 Comment

On Confederate Counterfactuals

For some years, I’ve taught a course on counterfactual history. Unlike many scholarly historians, I find counterfactual history useful for a variety of reasons. For one, I accept the argument that a number of its proponents have made that all … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Production of History | 25 Comments

A Matter of Perspective

If you were going to strip away the layered sociocultural histories that surround opinions like “colleges are bad for America” or “bring back coal jobs”, you would have some baseline economic truth that you’d think would reorder those opinions. a) … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Politics | 5 Comments

Helpful Hints for Skeptics

I suppose I knew in some way that there were people whose primary self-identification was “skeptic”, and even that there were people who saw themselves as part of the “skeptic community”. But it’s been interesting to encounter the kinds of … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Generalist's Work, Oath for Experts | 5 Comments

Some Work Is Hard

Dear friends, have you ever felt after reading an academic article that annoyed you, hearing a scholarly talk that seemed like nonsense to you, enduring a grant proposal that seemed like a waste of money to you, that you’d like … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Oath for Experts | 26 Comments

We Have Been Here Before

“Controversial speakers on campus” is one of those stories that generates a kind of perpetual discovery of just-now-imminent threat. That sort of discourse tends to drive historians nuts, because we look back and see that people have been saying something … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Politics | 5 Comments

Home to Roost

Formal argument in the classic style has real limits. Sometimes when we try to rule some sentiment or response in an argument or dialogue as “out of bounds” by classing it as a logical fallacy or as some other form … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Generalist's Work, Oh Not Again He's Going to Tell Us It's a Complex System, Politics | 12 Comments

Slow Poisons

A prologue first to what I’m going to say about “academic bullying”. Considering that the word is used so broadly to discuss a wide range of procedures, practices, attitudes, and ideological positions, maybe we need a better term than “neoliberalism”. … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Swarthmore | 13 Comments

Style and Substance

One of the complicated underterrains of struggle within the contemporary academy involves the use of language and representation. Many scholars in all disciplines have a sophisticated and subtle understanding of how we speak in our disciplines and across our disciplines, … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Politics | 5 Comments

Remain in Light

I don’t know what there is to say when you “read the comments” as it were. It feels hopeless. My colleague Sa’ed Atshan is profoundly committed to trying to get out of the standard confinements of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. At … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Politics | 7 Comments