Historians Get Advice on Writing for the Readers of Today – Research – The Chronicle of Higher Education.
I’m going to address this at greater length, and very soon, but first I wanted to throw this out there. It’s a question that I’ve asked my colleagues again and again. I think it’s a good sign that it was raised at the AHA, of all places, bastion of academic history that it is…and, better yet, nobody laughed or booed. The reception, overall, seems to have been pretty positive.
In my other life, I’m a history prof. Writing is my first love, but I teach too. Actually that pays the bills more than the books do. Anyway, though I don’t write much about my teaching, I’ll make an exception here. Just a few days ago, my employer — Wright State University — just approved something I’ve been thinking about creating for a long time now: a graduate program in military history, broadly defined. We’ve actually had a grad program in history for some time now. I was director of it a while back, while I was writing Drillmaster and Whites of Their Eyes in fact. Not a huge program, offering just the MA, and focused mostly on public history. I thought that, given the intensity of interest in military topics, a redirection of the non-public-history portion of our graduate program might breathe new life into it. We’ll see. Nothin’ to lose, either way.
Still, exciting stuff. I’m in the process of lining up a few friends of mine, mostly authors who have written about war-related topics and have significant popular history creds, to start a lecture series with a broad appeal outside of academia. Best of all (at least I think it’s best of all)–we’re planning a centennial commemoration of WWI that should be very interesting. Not an academic conference. It seems that every history department in Europe and North America is planning some sort of academic conference about WWI between 2014 and 2018. No, not that. Something much bigger. I won’t reveal that just yet, though. And that’s self-serving, too, because (giveaway here, drumroll please, because I’m sure everyone is simply dying to know what I’m going to write about next) my next book is going to be set in WWI.
More details on the next book later.
If you’re interested — out of simple curiosity, or out of professional interest in Wright State — you can follow along on my other blog, Bellum et historia.
War List: Significant Sieges.
It’s not a big piece, really, just a few hundred words on a few sieges that I like, not even my choices (contra the byline) for the most significant sieges. But the comments are great. Especially the one that takes me to task for being anti-Christian and — as if that weren’t enough — “BIG-OTED.” Oh well. I’ll try really hard to reduce my otedness.
A really good presidential address. I was at AHA this past weekend; I wish I had attended this one. Much better lecture than the one I did attend. Anyway, the good thing is what Prof. Cronon says — that historians need to stop talking to themselves and engage the public…for historians to become “storytellers.”
The sad thing is that he actually had to say it.
2013 Annual Meeting: William Cronon’s Presidential Address – YouTube.
I know it’s old. You have to remember that I still have a hard time thinking of music I used to listen to in 1981 as “classic rock.” Anyway, this is worth a gander. P’raps it only applies to academic military history but I don’t think so. Take a look.
Why Military History Sucks.
The Gun That Should Have Changed Everything.
OK, sorry. Long silence punctuated only by self-promotion. Been working on The Next Book. Just about finished proposing it. More to come, and soon. It’s a big departure for me, but it should prove to be fun. For me, at least.
In the meantime, here’s my latest piece in Military History Quarterly, sans some of the illustrations that make articles in glossy history magazines so darn pretty. I’ve been wanting to write about the battle of Lundby (Second Schleswig War, 1864, Denmark vs. Prussia) for years and years. It’s hard getting Americans interested in it, though it’s a fascinating (and important) battle. But thanks to my friend Bill Horne at MHQ, it’s in print now.