Archive for April, 2013

Doing History in Public

Alison Clark Efford, assistant professor of US immigration history, discusses her experiences teaching the history of German immigrants in Milwaukee to the public and shares her thoughts on the challenges academic historians face when engaging with public audiences.

Some historians spend considerable time regretting that members of our profession do not do more to reach out to the public. I must confess to finding the kvetching somewhat bewildering.

efford cover

I look around and see many of my colleagues doing impressive history in public. We could start with the writing. To my eye, many historians write accessibly and sometime even powerfully. I think of all the blogging—here of course, but also on sites such as the New York Times. Check out the NYT Civil War blog, for example. And take a look at the books coming out of presses such as the University of North Carolina Press and Harvard University Press these days. You might be surprised by the work that scholars are doing to communicate to a wider audience.

I am perfectly content with the fact that we history professors also write densely footnoted tomes that sit on library shelves for years. Eventually, someone usually comes along to popularize an historian’s insight. I value the tome and appreciate the popularizer. The public depends on both for access to high-quality history. I have a personal stake in the historical profession—I love my job. Even if I did not, however, I would still want to live in a society where some people engaged in seriously researching history without thinking about book sales.

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“Engaging Islam and Muslims: Interdisciplinary Perspectives” Conference

Phillip Naylor, our professor of North African and Middle Eastern history, provides a recap of an interdisciplinary conference recently held at Marquette.

I collaborated with Professors Irfan Omar (Theology), Richard Taylor (Philosophy), and Louise Cainkar (Social and Cultural Sciences) and organized a conference on 19-20 March titled “Engaging Islam and Muslims: Interdisciplinary Perspectives.” It was funded by a Helen Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences “Multidisciplinary Development Grant.” The conference showcased Marquette students and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) faculty. The grant allowed us to invite the participation of Dr. Aminah Beverly McCloud, Director of the Islamic World Studies Program and Professor of Islamic Studies at DePaul University, and Dr. John P. Entelis, the Chair of the Political Science Department and Director of the Middle East Studies Program at Fordham University. Entelis is also the president of the American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS). Marquette is an institutional member of AIMS and the Middle East Studies Association (MESA).

Continue reading ‘“Engaging Islam and Muslims: Interdisciplinary Perspectives” Conference’

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