Weekend Reading

This week: Kanye West and the Reformation; scrapbooking and the Civil War; hockey and Roman ruins; St. Dorothy Day?; the most famous sinking in the history of Lake Superior; and a proposal to make history majors pay more for the privilege of such study.

• The NHL is still locked out, but if you’re looking for some good hockey, try this Roman amphitheater in Croatia!

• Remembering the smaller town that’s always been overshadowed by Pompeii in the history of Mt. Vesuvius erupting in AD 79.

• Have we always eaten breakfast, lunch, and supper? The BBC sketches the history of three meals a day.

• One of Nicholas Ferroni’s suggestions for how to integrate songs into a history class: having students create a soundtrack for each time period. For example, his students believe that Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks” pretty much sums up the Protestant Reformation…

• Believe it or not, Colonial Williamsburg has its own version of American Idol, showcases “18th-century music, including Native American songs, military tunes, enslaved people’s work songs, and much more.” Watch the five finalists for Colonial Idol sing oldies-but-goodies like “Vain Britons” and “Ain’t No Grave,” then vote for your favorite. The winner will be announced on December 13th. (H/T John Fea)

Benedict Arnold’s signed oath of loyalty to the American Revolution…

• How scrapbooking gives us insight into the U.S. Civil War.

• Also from that chapter in American history… A new crowdsourcing initiative from the U.S. National Archives seeks to shed light on the experiences of Civil War widows. (Here’s an earlier post about crowdsourcing.)

• Still looking forward to receiving some reviews by our readers… But one early review of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, by historian Kate Masur, is negative on at least one important count: “…it’s disappointing that in a movie devoted to explaining the abolition of slavery in the United States, African-American characters do almost nothing but passively wait for white men to liberate them.”

SS Edmund Fitzgerald
The SS Edmund Fitzgerald – U.S. Coast Guard

• A ghost story from the Smithsonian, featuring one the American workers who helped build the Panama Canal.

• All about the Cenotaph, London’s spare but iconic war memorial.

• America’s Catholic bishops agreed to push for the canonization of one of the country’s most famous Catholics in the 20th century: Dorothy Day, founder of The Catholic Worker.

• Who better to tell Americans what they don’t understand about their own history than Oliver Stone? [fill in your own punchline in the Comments]

• Revisiting the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior – thirty-seven years ago last Saturday.

• A higher education task force in Florida has proposed that public universities in that state charge higher tuition for less-valued majors (including history) while freezing rates for students opting for “specific high-skill, high demand (market determined strategic demand) degree programs.”

• What happens when historians “fall in love” with their subjects? Hilarity ensues, that’s what.


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