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Month: August 2016

Objectivity, and the First Day of Class

Objectivity, and the First Day of Class

In a powerful column on the African American Intellectual History Society’s blog last week, Brandon R. Byrd drew attention to the racial baggage carried by the idea of objectivity within the historical profession.  Historically, objectivity has, Byrd argues, been the province of whiteness.  Black claims to truth-telling have always been judged suspect by whites, a past (and present) that renders professional claims to objectivity deeply problematic.  In the present moment in which we teach, we need anything but objectivity, Byrd…

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Making the First Day Matter

Making the First Day Matter

In my lower-level classes, many of my students have little idea what it means to be a practicing historian.  Their experience of history has been to read a dry textbook, believing that the god of history has decanted facts onto the page, and to take a lot of quizzes about specific people and events.  This is contrary to everything I want them to get out of a history course – I want them to be historians for the duration of…

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