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Category: Liberal Arts

My Imposter Story: Some Thoughts on Ralph Ketcham

My Imposter Story: Some Thoughts on Ralph Ketcham

A couple of weeks ago I attended a memorial service for one of my graduate school professors, Ralph Ketcham, who had died last spring.  A great and productive scholar and teacher, active up until the end.  A lot to admire. I wanted to finish Ralph’s final book, Public Spirited Citizenship: Leadership and Good Government in the United States, before I wrote more about my experience with him.  As in so much of Ralph’s scholarship, James Madison’s political writings, and Madison’s…

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A Plea for Justice on Indigenous Peoples’ Day

A Plea for Justice on Indigenous Peoples’ Day

In Native American history, there are lots of guilty parties, but Christopher Columbus is guiltier than most. There is absolutely nothing edifying in this story of avarice, violence, and religious bigotry, save for the native peoples who at times and places survived the carnage. The continued celebration of Columbus Day does a historical injustice to the native peoples of two continents and the Caribbean. The Columbus Day holiday found its origins in the Italian-American community. Columbus, quite likely from Genoa,…

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We Are Teachers

We Are Teachers

Many years ago I served on a search committee for a position in the history of American Foreign Policy. For many reasons it was an odd search, and we ultimately did not succeed in hiring anyone for the opening.  We interviewed one candidate over the phone, with an exceptional record of publication, and a strong, Ivy League academic pedigree. He was doing a post-doc at some thinktank somewhere and, when asked about teaching said that, yes, he did enjoy it,…

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What You Need To Read

What You Need To Read

I will post each quarter a list of items I have placed on my “To Get To” list, scholarship I will consider as I work to keep current in this vast field and begin to contemplate a third edition of Native America.   If there is something I have missed, or a work you would like me to add to the list, please feel free to drop me a line. For the March bibliography, click here. Abram Kercsmar, Joshua. “Wolves at…

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Intellectual Courage

Intellectual Courage

I gave the following keynote address to the annual meeting of NYSACAC, the New York state organization for high school and college admissions counselors, which took place at SUNY-Geneseo earlier this month. In some ways, it encapsulates what I tell my students each semester on the first day of class in my Humanities class.   I am delighted to be here, and to join those who have welcomed you here to our beautiful campus.  Geneseo, as a place, shows up…

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On The Way of the Human Being

On The Way of the Human Being

Yesterday one of my very good students told me that he was driving through New York’s Finger Lakes region, not all that far from my campus.  He was enjoying a nice spring day, noticing the signs remaining from the heyday of the Anti-Indian group Upstate Citizens For Equality, and listening to one of the blowhards on right-wing radio.  Slim pickings, sometimes, in the Finger Lakes.  Whoever it was that he listened to argued that Native Americans need to move on…

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Hey, Teacher, Leave Those Kids Alone!

Hey, Teacher, Leave Those Kids Alone!

We’ve come to that point in the semester where I begin to see on Twitter and on Facebook and elsewhere “bloopers,” students’ answers to questions on their midterms or finals that are so wrong that their professors or teachers find them funny. I would urge you to think twice before you post things like this, for those student bloopers may reflect more poorly on you as a teacher than it does upon the young people enrolled in your courses. When…

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Betsy DeVos Needs to go to School

Betsy DeVos Needs to go to School

What a dark and frightening world it is that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos sees awaiting the young people attending the nation’s colleges and universities. “The faculty,” DeVos warned an audience some time back at the Conservative Political Action Conference, “from adjunct professors to deans, tell you want to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think.” Oh, Secretary DeVos, you have it all so wrong. I have attended colleges and universities, public and private, as a student…

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The Case for Civic Engagement

The Case for Civic Engagement

I published an opinion piece in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle today, “The Case for Civic Education.”  I argued that one possible explanation as to why so many of Donald Trump’s supporters have accepted his trampling upon the Constitution is because too many Americans are unfamiliar with the country’s basic institutions, its history, and what the Constitution says. I believe strongly that historians, and other academics, should engage the public.  We should write in defense of our disciplines.  We should…

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Whither History and the Liberal Arts: A Note to Students

Whither History and the Liberal Arts: A Note to Students

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently stated that “the future” involves “making the marriage between academics and economics.”  Of course there is some truth to this.  Cuomo has been promoting his new plan to make SUNY tuition-free to New Yorkers from families with an income less than $125,000 per year.  The plan is to be applauded, but it has been promoted largely as a way to create jobs and to spur on economic growth in New York State.  The value…

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