The occasion for these musings is a collection of articles and initiatives that have popped up in my Twitter feed and inbox of late. Together they suggest a movement among historians to go beyond simply, say, correcting the record about Frederick Douglass to offering sharp, accessible content to the reading public:
- The Washington Post has provided a platform for historians to "enter the fray," via its new "Made by History" section. As editors-in-chief of the new section, historians Brian Rosenwald (University of Pennsylvania) and Nicole Hemmer (University of Virginia - Miller Center) plan to offer daily doses of historical analysis, all designed "to situate the events making headlines in their larger historical context." Contributors so far include legal historian Sarah Seo (Iowa Law) (on the status of the Constitution in America's borderlands).
- Historian social media is abuzz over "How To Avoid a Post-Scholar America," a recent essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education by historians Keisha N. Blain (University of Pittsburgh) and Ibram X. Kendi (American University). "In the age of Trump," the authors write, "scholars must step out of the shadows of their libraries, their labs, and their classrooms — or risk the day when those libraries, labs, and classes will not be able to cast shadows. Today more than ever, scholars must produce scholarship for the public."
- Over at the website of the American Friends Service Committee, legal historian and Mellon/ACLS Fellow Carly Goodman has posted "Five Tips for Scholars Who Want to Reach a Broader Audience."
- Going back some months, I have noticed the "syllabi" trend -- of historians circulating syllabi of scholarly texts that shed light on a current event or trend (#ImmigrationSyllabus is a recent one that comes to mind).
More examples? Feel free to chime in in the Comments. I'm sure a discussion of confederate monuments and naming controversies belongs here somewhere (and I'm not just saying that for you, Al Brophy).