As my students and editors and listeners and readers and future readers inevitably discover, I possess no tendency toward concise, economical expression — I am much more of an El Duderino guy. That said, I have surprised myself by finding Twitter a much more comfortable venue in which to snark of late. There is something considerably less daunting, and less competitive with other responsibilities, about sitting down or standing up to write 140 characters than the potentially limitless space of a blog post, along with the links and images they seem to demand. I still have stubborn hopes of getting this space more active sson, but for now, I would urge interested readers to follow @jlpasley over on Twitter. The last few tweets in my account appear in the right-hand column of the blog, of course, but they are a bit more intelligible on the Twitter site itself, where you can see their context. Of course, Joe Adelman and Ben Carp are on Twitter as well — indeed it is only through @jmadelman that I ever learned to tweet — along with a surprisingly large and growing number of historians, especially graduate students and younger scholars. What H-Net email lists were to many of us back in the 1990s, Twitter seems to be to the currently rising generation. I do not like to proselytize about such things, but anyone capable of commenting on a blog or using Facebook certainly has no need to march under the banner of General Ludd as regards Twitter.
November 30, 2012
July 6, 2012
Not necessarily in a good way!
A few weeks ago, we had a discussion here about where the new partisan media of recent times (Fox News and the blogosphere, especially) fit into the history of American journalism. I had forgotten until the following popped on YouTube that I had addressed this very issue in an interview with C-SPAN at the Organization of American Historians meeting in Milwaukee last April. A typically slick and polished presentation by yours truly (ahem), but it has been suggested that I post it here, so here you go, Joe. Apologies to the gods of television, plus all of the Facebook people and John Fea readers who have already seen this. Send in your video rebuttals!
January 27, 2012
Thanks so much to Joe Adelman for increasing the activity level around this place while the proprietor works out a few of his issues. I can’t say enough about what a great job Joe has done. From Joe, I have learned the value of Twitter and also that it actually IS possible to get a conversation going here that does not involve robots trying to spam Tea Partiers. (I dare not link to the post from 2009 that the spambots love so much.) I also hope everyone saw that the Atlantic website picked up one of Joe’s posts. Congratulations, Joe, and Common-Place.
In other news, my long-awaited (by the publisher) manuscript on the election of 1796 – a.k.a. The Epic Showdown That Created America! – is finally out of my hands for a while, though there are probably a few trees to go before I find the exit to the woods. Currently I am wandering the Forest of College Financial Aid, which is entered through the Valley of Early Taxation. However, we have big plans for the future here, so keep reading. John Fea, your plea has been heard, and appreciated!
One of my plans, and hopes, is continue bringing in guest posters and permanent guest posters to push Publick Occurrences toward being the sort of group blog that was always intended. (The old guest posters are welcome back any time as well.) Next up, look for a guest post from Yale graduate student Michael Hattem.
February 17, 2009
Possibly it is obnoxious to say I told you so, but I was very pleased to see Obama campaign manager David Plouffe quoted making the same point I made last August about the electoral insignificance of vice-presidential picks. He also notes the real impact of the great Mooseslayer on the race: she helped the Democrats, big time.
Here is Plouffe on Gov. Sarah Palin: “Vice presidential picks rarely but sometimes make an electoral difference. Our view was it probably wasn’t going to matter that much. It’s the most over-covered story in politics. This was the one exception to that. It did have an effect.”
“She was our best fundraiser and organizer in the fall.”
Long may she run as the GOP’s shining star.
February 5, 2009
The Washington Post published an article about Martha Washington’s wedding shoes being displayed at Mount Vernon this month. The subtitle was “Less First Frump, More Foxy Lady.” (Gosh, that just makes you want to break out Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock, doesn’t it?) The shoes didn’t much interest the Guardian, which entitled its piece “Martha Washington – a Hot First Lady?”
The reason is this picture: a computerized “age-regression portrait” by Michael Deas that purports to show what Martha Washington looked like in her twenties. (Could The Sun be far behind in picking up this story?)
Jeff will probably hate me for posting this: it’s Founders Chic run amok! Why do we care how attractive past first ladies were, anyway?
On the other hand, something tells me that age-regression portraits could be a big business, if it makes everyone look THAT good. I want them to make one of me when I was in middle school.
(Hat tip Ralph Luker and IBM.)
June 22, 2008
Readers of my book, The Tyranny of Printers: Newspaper Politics in the Early American Republic, may be interested in a much more lavishly illustrated rendition of some of the book’s points that has been just been published in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s magazine Pennsylvania Legacies. The article, “Popular Constitutionalism in Philadelphia: How Freedom of Expression Was Secured by Two Fearless Newspaper Editors,” is part of a special issue on “Defining Civil Liberties in Pennsylvania.” Naturally, the two editors are Benjamin Franklin Bache and William Duane of the Philadelphia Aurora. It looks like you have to join HSP to actually read the whole thing, but there is a preview available here.
(I love the cartoon of a lightning-swathed printing press that the HSP has posted with the preview, which I am borrowing for this post. It looks like it should be the chest emblem of a printing-themed superhero, if there ever were to be such a thing.)
As usual with small assignments covering old ground, I tortured myself to put something new into this piece, only to have most of the extra material not make it into the final version. In this case, I tried to go a little further than the book did with the idea of popular constitutionalism — constitutional interpretation as worked out and enforced in the arena of popular politics rather than the courts — as the driving force behind what Americans came to see their constitutional rights. In the case at hand, the expansive American version of press freedom was worked out in the political battle of 1798-1801. Constitutional law and elite political thought only caught up many decades later. At any rate, I have posted a “director’s cut” of the article here. (Having an outlet for my long versions was a good chunk for my motivation for starting a website in the first place.) It is still unfootnoted and pitched to a relatively popular audience, like the Pennsylvania Legacies version, but it will be a starting point for an argument I hope to be making at greater length and with more scholarly rigor in the future.