Thinking Bloggers

Here I am enduring my four-hour layover in Kansas City, Missouri. I have to say, KCI is a pretty crap airport, but for one thing: free wifi! May other airports follow its wireless example (but not its inane security arrangements). To avoid finishing next semester’s syllabi, an activity that constitutes real work, I am catching up on old emails and doing a little blogging.

Awhile back, Professor Grimsley, the War Historian, tagged me with a Thinking Blogger Award.

Here are the rules:

  1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
  2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
  3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote. (We’ll see how this goes; KCI has wifi but it is slower than molasses going uphill in January and I think clicking the “upload image” button might cause the network to suffer an apoplectic breakdown.)

Without further ado, here are my five nominations (a nice mix of academic and non-academic bloggers)

  1. Redneck Mother (“Raising Children, Lettuce, and Hell in Texas”). Redneck Mother lives in the town I grew up in, so her remarks on aspects of Texas local politics give me a warm, homey feeling (accompanied by disgust). Redneck Mother also comments upon home-schooling and sustainable living. It’s good stuff–check it out!
  2. Elle, ABD, now Elle, PhD (“Ruminations and Revelations of One Southern Historian”). I’m known for having complained, frequently, of the difficulties history grad students face–Elle is not only an accomplished Houston-based student but also a single mom. Hats off to Elle, and Congratulations on finishing that dissertation!
  3. Little Professor (“Things Victorian and Academic”). I would add to her subtitle: “and things truly hilarious.” Check out her version of CSI. I’ve actually taken to muttering “Foucault you” under my breath when annoyed (most recently at the TSA in Denver–that’s another post for another time).
  4. Chapati Mystery (“What is the Vertiginous Chapati Saying to Me?”). Manan is a rabid baseball fan and one of my treasured academic drinking buddies. We’re on a panel together at the AHA (see below). And, his blog is a window into South Asian history for the initiated and uninitiated alike.
  5. And, New Kid on the Hallway. One of my favorite medievalists on the web, her recent academic adventures make great reading. Way to pull through, NK!

This is by no means a comprehensive list; it merely proves to me that I have got to update my links. Maybe sometime in this summer…but oh no! My summer is already all planned up….onward and upward with the Amazing Mr. Book!


Best. Tank. Ever.

1 tank.

34 days.

10.445 gallons

510 miles.

48.8 mpg

All urban driving–just my commute. Wow. Hildegarde is AWESOME.

Cool links

Manan has posted the VIII Cliopatria Symposium. It’s all about Jamestown; check it out!

Scott Jaschik at has written a story about our experience with the AHA Program Committee. I’ll have some responses to the story and the comments attached to it later (but I’m trying to finish a book review just now so I can’t do it yet).

In Which the Historianess Becomes a Token

Last week my friend and fellow Cliopat Manan Ahmed posted on Cliopatria about a letter he received from the AHA. Manan, along with a few other Cliopats, had detected some similarities in their scholarly work and they resolved to do a panel on their work–not as bloggers, but as colleagues.

Their panel was accepted with a condition: Since the AHA has a standing commitment to gender diversity on panels, the Program Committee has decided to require you to find a female participant, perhaps to serve as chair or a second commentator for your session.


Manan points out that while AHA regulations do “encourage” gender diversity on panels, they do not *require* it, as this program committee has done. And, as he also notes, no reminder of this official policy of encouragement appears on the AHA’s Calls for Papers.

Manan and his colleagues were understandably embarrassed to contact women academics with a request to chair the panel; would you want to call someone up, even a friend, and say “Apparently, me and my colleagues are not gender diverse; so, since you’re a girl, would you please chair our panel?” (Or, who would want to ask the converse: “Would you chair my panel since you’re a boy?”) Because these guys are my friends, and because I think this situation plainly stinks, I offered to take on the job as the AHA’s token woman on the panel and thus saved it from rejection.

Here’s what makes me so darn angry:

1. While gender diversity on panels is in general a good idea, rejecting perfectly decent panels because of a lack of gender diversity is short-sighted and offensive. It’s short-sighted because it alienates historians of any gender who would like to put together panels (which is time-consuming work in and of itself) while limiting their options and encouraging them to pick panelists simply because of gender rather than because of scholarly interest or ability.

2. It’s offensive because it installs a woman simply for the sake of having a woman on the panel. I won’t be doing any serious scholarly work for this panel; I just show up and introduce my friends (I many also get to wear a t-shirt that says “token”). That’s a great way to encourage gender diversity: put the token in a position of little authority or consequence, just because he/she will fit the quota. Ridiculous, and offensive. In all my time in academia, I’ve never been treated this way.

3. There are huge gender problems among historians. Women academics are still paid less than equivalently qualified male colleagues. Women still face discriminatory maternity leave “policies” that complicate balancing an academic career and motherhood. There is still a serious dearth of women at the tenured level in history departments, especially at the level of full professor. Income inequality and inequality at the level of senior scholars are both serious problems; sticking me, or any women, on an AHA panel is *not* a solution. Interestingly, my (admittedly quick) perusal of the AHA’s annual report did not reveal any substantive inquiries in the past year into gender inequality in our profession. Perhaps the AHA thinks that by getting a woman to chair Manan’s panel, history’s gender problems are solved.

So here’s my plea: no more offensive half-measures, no more quotas for panels, no more ridiculous “requirements” for panels. Instead, let’s have a serious discussion about the challenges that women still face in this profession. Let’s talk about unequal pay, about maternity leave policies, and about women as senior scholars. Let’s have some requirements that do something to actually ameliorate these problems.

In the mean time, I invite you to attend our panel. It will be great, even though there will be a token presiding.

Tuesday Fashion Blogging

I’m $685 poorer but infinitely more dignified (I think the sneakers are a nice touch, myself).

Of course, if my face were slightly more bulbous, I would be the spitting image of Martin Luther (it’s the beanie that suggests the resemblance!).