Thoughts on a Year of Adjunct Teaching

Thoughts on a Year of Adjunct Teaching

Historians have held many conversations over the past months about the state of the profession, particularly in academia, as scholars wrestle with an increasingly difficult job market and a prominent role in public debates about the place of history in our modern world. In addition, conversations about the role of adjuncts in academia are happening in the larger university setting, whether over the job market, the transition of colleges using adjuncts rather than full time faculty, or the situation of adjuncts lacking proper pay and benefits.

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The South Needs to Commemorate Its Southern Unionists

The South Needs to Commemorate Its Southern Unionists

The historical amnesia of the South regarding its black and white Union soldiers should be rectified. By choosing to selectively remember and honor Confederate soldiers while simultaneously ignoring the many Southerners who fought for the Union, Southerners send clear message that loyalty to region, protection of white supremacy, and veneration of the Confederacy are the only legacies of the Civil War worth remembering. If Confederate monuments continue to be torn down, new ones should go up, celebrating those Southerners--black and white--who remained loyal to the Union and brought about “a new birth of freedom.”

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Bloody Field, Peaceful Field

Bloody Field, Peaceful Field

Walk the field at Spotsylvania's Bloody Angle and you are struck by the peaceful beauty of the area.  Today, not a shadow of the violence, pain, and intensity remains on the fields where so many fell almost 150 years ago. But should battlefields be a place of peace?  Should fields which once soaked up the blood of countless men become beautiful, or does such a transformation detract from telling the story of their sacrifice and suffering? 

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Confederate Iconography, The Next Steps: On Shared Authority, Historical Stewardship, and the Role of the Public Historian

Confederate Iconography, The Next Steps: On Shared Authority, Historical Stewardship, and the Role of the Public Historian

As the debate over the purpose and future of Confederate monuments and iconography in public culture continues, discussions concerning the role of the public historian in these debates have similarly intensified.  Central to these debates has been the question of the proper role of the public historian in community-based, emotionally and politically charged discussions about historical memory and contemporary society...it is hardly inappropriate or overstepping for public historians to make suggestions to communities as to what to do with their public memorial landscapes, nor is it at all intrusive and imposing to try to help communities learn about the educational value of their historic monuments and memorials or about the complexities of historical memory.  Additionally, pointing out to communities who are in the midst of debates about the future of memorial landscapes all that is gained AND lost if such landscapes were to be destroyed or removed is hardly “historian-centric” or merely “historians doing historian things.”  Is this not the very nature of our jobs as public historians?

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Editorial: Removing Confederate Memory: How Far is Too Far?

Editorial: Removing Confederate Memory: How Far is Too Far?

With all the discussions in recent months about eliminating Confederate symbols such as the Confederate flag, some have called for the removal of Confederate monuments and memorials as well, everything from the local monument in the town square to the Stone Mountain carving. How far go we go in deleting Confederate memory from American soviety?

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Editorial: Are Confederate Veterans United States Veterans?

Editorial: Are Confederate Veterans United States Veterans?

In the past few months, the public has been swept up in debates about the place of Confederate memory and identity in American culture and society. While the debates started mainly around the use of the Confederate flag in South Carolina in the wake of the tragic shooting there this summer, the discussion has spread far beyond that. For Americans, opening up the “can of worms” that is Civil War memory brings forward emotional arguments along the same fault lines of the 1860s because of how deep the war’s legacy runs in our national story. One of the arguments that I came across a few times was whether or not Confederate veterans were considered veterans of the United States; which, if they were, would impact other arguments about use of Confederate symbols at cemeteries and other memorial events or the place of Confederate monuments in society.

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Editorial: Charleston, America, and the Confederacy's Legacy

Editorial:  Charleston, America, and the Confederacy's Legacy

Last week, twenty-one year old Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people in Charleston, South Carolina’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.  An act of violence and racial hatred, the tragedy has sparked a nationwide debate over racism and, in particular, the symbolism of the Confederate flag.  The flag of a now-dead nation dedicated to the defense of slavery, the flag that appears in photographs with Dylann Roof, and the flag that today floats free over the South Carolina Capitol grounds.

I suspect, owing to public outcry and political pressure, the flag in Columbia will come down.  The governor of South Carolina has called for its removal, and yesterday Alabama removed its Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds.  Yet while the flag faces greater scrutiny, the current debate cannot merely rest on the Confederate flag. The discussion instead needs to encompass the Confederacy’s legacy in the United States—what the Confederacy stood for, what it means today, and the place (if any) it should occupy in 21st-century America.

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