Googling Peer Review, Part Two

Talking with a friend about peer review, it occurred to me that the stuff which has been most influential in my intellectual life, the stuff that’s been most profound and useful, is profound and useful in ways that have nothing at all to do with peer review. Was Foucault’s Discipline and Punish peer reviewed? It […]


Social Security was a Jobs Bill

Social Security was first proposed in the mid-1930s, as a jobs bill, an answer to the unemployment problem. In the mid 1930s a California doctor, Frances Townsend, proposed establishing a 2% sales tax on all purchases, and using the resulting funds to guarantee every American over 60 a pension As you can see below, he […]


Blind Imitation

What do we do when we learn by imitation? What does it mean when the imitation crosses “racial” lines? I’m working on the history of music, and looking here at the career of Eddie Lang, who was perhaps the single most recorded person in the 1920s. I want to eventually compare Lang to John Powell, […]


Poor Richard’s Tweets.

Twitter marks the return of an old literary form: It’s a model Ben Franklin used to help bring the community of the American revolution  into being. I resisted Twitter for a long time, as I’m already too easily distracted. It’s obviously great for networking and sharing links. But it preserves the form of working without […]


Peer Review and the Public Sphere

Peer review has not only served us badly: it’s cost academics more and more cultural authority. The general public, having more sources available online, is less willing to trust experts, and  sees peer review as akin to the monkeys in Kipling’s Jungle Book: “We all say so, and so it must be true.” Kathleen Fitzpatrick […]


What to do with an out of print book?

Trying to figure out what to do with my out-of-print first book. Kindle Ebook? Or just give it away on a different platform? Some of you out there may find/have found yourself in the same situation. My dissertation was published in 1990 as Keeping Watch: A History of American Time. It was initially published by […]


Big Academic Conference–Shoot Me Now!

You drew the Sunday morning session. There are a dozen people in the room, panelists included. Through the open door you see people rushing by, rolling suitcases behind them, heading to the airport. The panelist next to you bulldogs along, head down, reading word for word. Soon the commentator will gamely attempt a synthesis, and […]


Virginia and the Black Confederates

Recently the news was full of the fact that VA’s fourth grade history textbook described large numbers of black men serving in uniform for the confederacy. The claim is these slaves were loyal to their masters and fought to preserve slavery. This is simply absurd: it’s wishful thinking. It’s true that late in the war, […]


Which Project Should Mike Do?

Hello, fellow historians and the history-minded! I made a longish post about digital publishing and peer review, and now I have to put up or shut up. I want to want to conduct a research project equal in “mass” to a journal article, and post it online as I go. I’ll have to rethink the […]


Googling Peer Review

Who is not ambivalent about peer review?  On the one hand, it establishes a basic, reliable level of quality in argument and in evidence. On the other, it grinds everything down to a bland sameness. Peer review assures professional standards are met, and also enforces orthodoxy. Anonymous peer review prevents intimidation: anonymous peer review allows  […]