Category Archives: Swarthmore

All Saints Day

Commenting on the debate over Halloween costumes seems freshly risky this week, but the subject has been on my mind since I read this New York Times article on the subject on October 30. My first thought would be that … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Popular Culture, Production of History, Swarthmore | 17 Comments


Over the last decade, I’ve found my institutional work as a faculty member squeezed into a kind of pressure gradient. On one side, our administration has been requesting or requiring more and more data, reporting and procedures that are either … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Defining "Liberal Arts", Oh Not Again He's Going to Tell Us It's a Complex System, Swarthmore | 5 Comments

We Are Not Who We Will Become

One of the things about the reaction to Allison Bechdel’s Fun Home by a small subset of incoming Duke undergraduates that is important to grasp is that I think it’s a deliberate–and possibly even coordinated–re-deployment of activism about the content … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Politics, Swarthmore | 10 Comments

The Ground Beneath Our Feet

I was a part of an interesting conversation about assessment this week. I left the discussion thinking that we had in fact become more systematically self-examining in the last decade in a good way. If accrediting agencies want to take … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Defining "Liberal Arts", Swarthmore | 2 Comments

Raise the Barn/Autopsy the Corpse

A more detailed thinking-through of the case of Sweet Briar, and a proposal. Five places to start a dissection of Sweet Briar College and the decision of its Board to close the school: Laura McKenna, “The Unfortunate Fate of Sweet … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Swarthmore | 7 Comments

Practice What We Preach?

I’ve been reworking an essay on the concept of “liberal arts” this week. One of the major issues I’m trying to think about is the relatively weak match between what many liberal arts faculty frequently say about the lifelong advantages … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Defining "Liberal Arts", Swarthmore | 6 Comments

Counterfactual History: A Course Update

So I’m teaching the second iteration of my course on counterfactual history this semester. I’m doing a really different kind of group research project in this version of the class. Basically the students are working in two-person teams to develop … Continue reading

Posted in Swarthmore | 8 Comments

How College Works: Assessment

I don’t think it’s a secret that I am very frustrated with prevailing trends in higher education assessment. I feel bad that this frustration often forces me to be a major annoyance to great local colleagues in the faculty and … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Swarthmore | 7 Comments

How College Works: First Appreciation

One of the most extreme extreme cases of an unfair division in attention to two different books dealing with the same subject is the difference between William Deresiewicz’ Excellent Sheep and Daniel Chambliss and Christopher Takacs’ How College Works. The … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Swarthmore | 6 Comments

History 82 Fall 2014 Syllabus

Here’s the current version of the syllabus for my upcoming fall class on the history of digital media. Really excited to be teaching this. ——————— History 82 Histories of Digital Media Fall 2014 Professor Burke This course is an overly … Continue reading

Posted in Digital Humanities, Games and Gaming, Information Technology and Information Literacy, Intellectual Property, Popular Culture, Swarthmore | 4 Comments