Category Archives: Uncategorized

I will not finish The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

I mostly enjoyed the first season of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Some of the bits were outstanding. I still laugh sometimes about the werewolf-taxi plot line. However, I had deep misgivings about the portrayal of the Vietnamese (portrayed by a Korean-American actor) character, Dong. This is old news. People have talked about it a lot, and so I do not feel the need to go back over all of that. I will simply say that I was one of the people who had a problem with the character.

When my wife and I finished the second episode of the second season, we say the synopsis of the upcoming episode, and I said “I won’t watch this.” My wife agreed. It has been a few months. I decided to watch it.

The episode was a “f@$% you” to the people who complained. Again, people have talked about this a lot, so I don’t think I have to explain all of it.

There were some good jokes in the episode, but the plot line about Titus’ geisha play was as insulting as I expected. The people who protested it were portrayed as terrible, angry people who just want to be offended. I believe the phrase was “anonymous hosers criticizing geniuses.” That is both insulting and incredibly arrogant on the part of the writers. The acronym of the group is RAPE. They call everyone Hitler. Kimmy tells them that they are criticizing a show that they haven’t even seen. In the end, the “anonymous hosers” come to like the show and do not know what to do with themselves now that they have nothing to be offended about.

The one thing that caught me completely off guard was the joke about the death of Eric Garner. One of the RAPE group at the end is so troubled about not being offended that she says “I can’t breathe.” Then she panics because she offended herself by saying that and vanishes into a beam of light. Everything about this episode is self-serving, but that was way too far.

I want to be clear that I was not offended by Titus putting on a play where he dressed up as a geisha. It was so absurd that I thought it was pretty funny.

Some people thought that this was in response to complaints by Native Americans to having Jacqueline’s character be a passing-as-white Native American. It probably was. There are a lot of Native American groups with significant grievances against the US government, but making Jacqueline come from the Lakota Sioux, a group of people who were cheated on a very grand scale, probably makes things even worse. However, this episode was also about the reaction to Dong. I have no intention to slight the complaints from Native Americans. However, I am going to focus on the Asian American aspect for personal reasons and because the episode tried to answer critics by having Titus believe that he was a reincarnation of a Japanese geisha named Murasaki (that is also the name of a very famous female author; I am not sure if there was an intentional connection there).

Tina Fey has said that she will not apologize for anything. She thinks that there is a “culture of demanding apologies” and will not take part.

Here is the problem that Fey does not seem to understand. People do not apologize for offending Asian Americans. On the occasion that they do, it is half-hearted and way too late, and then everyone forgets why they had to apologize in the first place. I know that the folks behind the show think that they were being funny. We are not there yet.

This country has had a terrible record of dealings with Asian countries. I want to focus on domestic issues, so I will simply mention the Vietnamese War, the Korean War, the “open door” policy in China, Commodore Perry’s forced opening of Japan, the Philippine-American War, and probably a bunch of other things that I am forgetting. By the way, that was all off the top of my head. Fey and other creators of the show seem to think that people go digging for reasons to be upset. I am not digging. You might argue that the Vietnamese or Korean wars were justifiable in the effort to defeat communism (I don’t think anyone would argue for the rightness of any of the other things I mentioned). However, the US also did some pretty terrible things in both of those wars, neither of which was really our business in the first place, and neither of which was carried out for the good of the people there.

One domestic episode that has come up recently was the forced internment of Japanese and Japanese-Americans along the west coast of the United States during World War II. The US government took away the civil liberties of foreign nationals and American citizens, deprived them of their right to private property (I mention that one specially because it seems to be the right that Americans have cared the most about), and did not seem to see why that was wrong. To be clear, there was not, and never has been, any evidence that any of those people were involved in a plot against the United States. The government did not intern any other people based on their nationalities. Before someone makes the idiotic argument that the government did also pass measures against German and Italian immigrants, the US government did, but it did not lock them up. It did not even lock up, say, the ones who had just immigrated immediately before the war. But Japanese and Japanese-American citizens alike were forced into camps. The US government did not apologize for this until 1988.

But the story doesn’t end there. As you may recall, this episode was brought back to our attention by various politicians believing that it could be a model for how to deal with another group of people that they want to discriminate against based on (depending whom and when you ask) their religion or nationality. The democratic mayor of Roanoke, VA, David Bowers, wrote that this was good precedent for rejecting Syrian refugees. When his comment resulted in a strong, negative reaction, he doubled down, and said that FDR made the “right decision.” He did eventually apologize, but I sincerely doubt that he understood why it was wrong; he just understood that a lot of people were angry. However, much of this was overshadowed by the now presumed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s statements that while he “hate[s] the concept” of the internment camps, he was still willing to use the example of the camps to justify his call to ban Muslims from immigrating to the United States. I think that is safe to say that no lessons have been learned there.

This also made me wonder if the US ever apologized for its treatment of Chinese immigrants. If you did not know, the US forbade almost all non-white naturalization after 1790. However, the US specifically targeted Chinese immigrants in 1882 with the Chinese Exclusion Act. This was not revoked until 1943, when the US decided that it probably shouldn’t be so terrible to Chinese people if we wanted to be their ally against Japan. In reality, the US simply used other measures to restrict Chinese immigration for a few more years. I did a quick web search and found that the House passed a bill to apologize for this in 2012. Really on the ball there. This resurfaced (last month) when NY state lawmakers asked the president to apologize again because they see the rhetoric used against the Chinese being reused against Muslim immigration.

The state of California, for its part, because it passed a series of anti-Chinese bills and had one whopper of a state Supreme Court ruling that classified the Chinese as “black” to keep them from doing things like voting, having rights, or testifying in court, officially apologized in 2009. I suppose over a century late is better than never, but it means basically nothing to the people who suffered as a result.

If you want a comedy example, how about Stephen Colbert’s infamous impersonation of “Ching Chong Ding Dong?” I am not talking about the whole #CancelColbert dustup in 2014, but the original airing of the character in 2005. Colbert did eventually apologize, and this was something taken off of satellite feed not intended for broadcast, but he wasn’t exactly in private; he was in front of his audience. So in 2005, people are still willing to make horrible, exaggerated imitations of Asian people in public. I didn’t permanently hold it against him and I continued to watch the show. He crossed a line while he wasn’t on air and acting on the spur of the moment. He also apologized. These qualifications cannot be applied to The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

As many others have noted, this came on the heels of a number of white actors and actresses being cast as Asians (most famously, Scarlet Johannson as Japanese, Emma Stone as half-Chinese), and it was taken as a response to people who were complaining about these slights to the Asian-American community.

So, in response to this episode, I do not call people Hitler; in fact, that irritates me, too. I did not go digging for things to be angry about; I looked up a few things for dates and details for this post, but I did not google “offensive Asian stereotypes” or similar. I have literally never posted anything in a comments section. I have almost zero social media presence. I have seen the show (up through episode 3, season 2, anyway).

In response to a “culture of demanding apologies,” I couldn’t say if there is such a thing. Honestly, I don’t spend enough time on the internet to know that. However, I could say that there is not a culture of apologizing to Asian Americans. There have been some; I believe that Colbert’s was sincere. However, some apologies have taken more than a century, and it is pretty clear that people have not learned any fundamental lessons from them. This is not something that people are ready to move past.

Finally, in response to the show, I was willing to keep watching it after the first season. You were trying to do something that wasn’t working. People make mistakes. However, in this episode, you told me to f@$% off in a big, insulting, and incredibly self-centered way. So I’m done with the show. I have very little power here. I’m not going to cancel Netflix (I am eagerly anticipating the return of Bojack Horseman). However, I can write this blog post that no one will read, refuse to finish the series, and move on with my life. I am doubtful that I will watch Fey’s next project, whatever that will be.

I am reminded of something Amy Poehler talked about in her recent book. She reflected on a time that she unknowingly offended someone very deeply, but instead of apologizing, she got angry. Many years later, she felt terrible and tried to apologize. It didn’t work. I’m sure that we all have stories where we became defensive instead of showing compassion or apologizing. I guess that, for Fey and her team, this will be one of those times.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

More on iPad for academics

Recently, a lightning strike traveled over the phone lines and fried our modem and everything wired to it, including a TimeCapsule, a printer, and a bluray player. To say the least, it was vexing. I have since rescued the hard drive out of the time capsule, replaced the printer, figured out a new media option instead of the bluray player, and purchased a new router. Our ISP took care of the new modem and repairing the line into the house.

In the process, I took advantage of some recent changes in home internet technology to try to make my iPad more functional. I thought that it might be useful to share some of these developments here. If you are up-to-date on internet security, this will probably be boring for you. I intend this for the well intentioned amateur, like myself, who is not afraid of handling more sophisticated technologies but might need some help with terms and basic instructions.

I have recommended SugarSync to many people in the past. It is a cloud service that runs an automatic sync with files on your home computer that you designate. It has proven useful for me. For instance, when I use my iPad to grade student work (usually in pdf files), I do so using PDFExpert on my iPad and sync it with my SugarSync account, and everything ends of neatly back on my computer. It has been great, but for over a year, there has been one irritating problem. When Apple changed the file format for iWork (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) files, SugarSync stopped being able to read them correctly. It became impossible to look at these files on my iPad as a result. I have tried some workarounds, but ultimately I have simply had to remember to move all of my iWork files that I think that I will need into iCloud. Sometimes I forget, and then I am in trouble. SugarSync has refused to update their software to better understand iWork files, instead blaming Apple, and I have lost my patience with SugarSync. I will not be renewing my subscription when it is up.

My new router allows me new options. Routers that can create VPNs (Virtual Private Network) have typically been priced out of the range of the home user, but more and more companies are making more budget-friendly options. So I purchased a TP-Link VPN router. Between that and eventually buying an NAS drive, I figure that I will save a hundred dollars at least on buying a new TimeCapsule and have way more functionality. Take that, Apple!

Why would I need to set up a VPN? Well, I often like to be able to access my home computer while on campus or away from home. It allows me to access files I might need and to even use my iPad as a remote desktop, so that I can directly use my computer, even though it is still on my desk miles away. For that I use a program called iTeleport. I can get back to that later.

The trouble with this is that previously I have had to poke holes in the firewall that protects my home network. The firewall is the barrier that keeps other people on the internet from accessing your computer. There is probably one in your router and also on your computer. The VPN allows me to keep the firewall in place and access my home network, gaining all the access to my computer as I would if I was right there at home.

Setting up the VPN was stunningly easy. It will vary based on the router you choose, so I cannot give detailed instruction. Figure out how to access your router’s interface; there should be instructions with your router, perhaps printed directly on your router. Here are some key terms and things to do. You will probably want to set up an LT2P tunnel with IPSec encryption. This is easy to set up and fairly secure. I think  that the NSA can break it, but if they are interested in you, you probably have more pressing problems. A PPTP tunnel is also very easy to set up, but much less secure; go for the LT2P. It is a called a “tunnel” because it tunnels through your firewall, and then as far as your iPad is considered it will be as if you were sitting at home; you can access a network drive, your computer, your printer, the whole deal. You will need to set up a username and password, which shouldn’t be difficult. You will need to enable IPSec encryption on your router. You will also need to set up a shared key or “secret,” which will then serve as an encryption key. You will also need to set up an IP address pool. I don’t know why they make you do that, but you will have to. Where it tells you to do that, make up a name for the pool and assign IP addresses different from the ones that the router itself will assign, so if it assigns address in the range of and up, set the range of the VPN’s address pool to and up. Or make up a totally new number. It is your call.

A quick word on IP addresses, in case you were unaware. This is your computer’s internet address. Your ISP assigns you an IP address. Your router then accepts it, and then it assigns each device connected to it a new IP address that looks completely different from the one the ISP gave it. Your router does that so it can talk to each computer on the network. It then communicates with your ISP and sends you that cookie recipe you were looking for.

Another word on IP addresses. In order to finish setting up your VPN, you will need a way to keep track of your ISP-assigned IP address. There are a variety of services that will do this for you. I use Go there, set up an account, and you will also set up a web address that looks a lot like a URL. Hold on to that URL for a moment. If you are lucky, your router has a place for you to enter that information and it will help you to keep track of your IP address.

You will then need to set up your iPad. The good news is that it is built into iOS. Go to settings, General, VPN. Then enter your username, password, “secret,” and that URL you got from or whoever. And you are all set.

There is one more thing to do on your router. Assign your computer a set IP. You can probably find a place to do this under “router” or some similar heading in your router’s interface. There will be a place for you to enter your MAC address and assign a particular IP address to your computer. Just pick one. Hold onto that address for a moment. Your MAC address is a code embedded in your wireless card, or ethernet card, or any piece of internet hardware. Whatever computer or operating system you have, just google how to find your MAC address; it shouldn’t be too hard.

So you have a VPN. What now? You will want to get a few new apps for your iPad. I would recommend iNet, iTeleport, and FileBrowser. There are many others, but I use these so I know that they work. Follow the setup instructions for iTeleport. You will have to activate screen sharing and set up a VNC; you can do this in your system preferences under Sharing, if you are on a mac. Make sure you use a strong password for it. I would however recommend not bothering with the app they want you to set up on your computer. Go into manual setup on the app on your iPad, enter that IP address that you assigned your home computer in the paragraph before this. Because you will never need to access your computer from outside your home network, there will be no need to set up the app that helps you to locate your home network. Then add in your various usernames and passwords, and you are good to go.

To use FileBrowser, you will need to enable file sharing on your computer. On a Mac, look for “Windows sharing.” It is in your System Preferences under Sharing. In FileBrowser, manually create a new location by putting in that IP address for your computer and the proper username and password (probably the same ones you use to log into your computer), and you are done. I like FileBrowser because it has been updated to work with iWork documents. Take that SugarSync.

So now you can use your iPad as a remote desktop and access all of your files. The only major problem is that, if your computer is asleep, you need to be able to wake it up. That is what iNet is for, or iWol, or whatever similar app you get. WoL stands for “wake on lan.” Basically, you can have your router wake your computer up for you. For this to work reliably, you probably need to run an ethernet cable from the router to your computer; wireless connections can work, but they are far less reliable. You will need to enable Remote Login in your System Preferences. In iNet, you will need to set up the wake-on-lan service using your computer’s IP address, your login for your computer, and your MAC address. Once that is done, you can wake up your computer, put it to sleep, shut it down, and reboot it. You just can’t turn it on if it is completely shut off.

So next time your in the office or at a coffeeshop, just hit the VPN switch on your iPad, and enjoy all that secure and reliable access to your home computer. My next major purchase will be to set up an NAS drive; this is a hard drive that can be used by anyone on your home network. But I’ll talk more about that once I get it set up.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Partial review of Mike Wallace, Mickey Mouse History and Other Essays on American Memory

I did not realize how long it had been since my last post. I have been keeping busy, and I do have a thing or two to report, but I do not have time to write it up just now. Instead, I will include a partial preçis/review that I wrote for myself on

Wallace, Mike. Mickey Mouse History and Other Essays on American Memory.  Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996.

The book is a collection of essays divided into four sections. I read “Visiting the Past: History Museums in the United States” (3-32), “Razor Ribbons, History Museums, and Civic Salvation” (33-54), “Boat People: Immigrant History at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island” (55-74), “Progress Talk: Museums of Science, Technology, and Industry” (75-86), “Industrial Museums and the History of Deindustrialization” (87-100), “The Virtual Past: Media and History Museums” (101-114), “Mickey Mouse History: Portraying the Past at Disney World” (133-58), “Disney’s America” (159-74), and “Preserving the Past: A History of Historic Preservation in the United States” (177-222).

My general impressions about Wallace were that he was very committed to public history and engaging with the public. He has a somewhat Marxist bent to his idea of historical progression, with lots of class struggle. However, he is not overly materialist; there is a great deal of social analysis, too.

One of his main concerns is that museums and displays not present the particular view of the dominant class. This is a topic that came up in “Visiting the Past,” “Boat People,” “Progress Talk,” and, well, maybe all of them. In the first chapter, he discusses Colonial Williamsburg, Greenfield Village, and other major attempts at historical preservation or recreation by industrialists. He argues that up through the late 19th century Americans preferred the narrative that they were not bound by history, with the coming troubles of the early 20th century, men like Ford and Rockefeller jr. decided that they wanted to promote a particular vision of the past. This past lacked the nascent conflict of the present. For instance, in Williamsburg, painstaking care was taken to replicate the 18th-century town, but it was peopled with mostly middle-class white people. Where were the slaves? The poor? The rich? It represented only the “best” parts of the time, and the parts that the industrialists believed themselves the heirs.

There is a similar story in discussion of immigration and technology. The museum at Ellis Island is good, he says, because it does look at anecdotes and statistics to show not the heroic side of immigration, but the pain, noting all the people who were turned away. It also tried to show the global element. However, he wishes that more effort was made to discuss immigration more widely, with the concerns in the home countries that motivated it, the mistreatment faced in the US, and the non-white immigrants who did not come through Ellis Island. This was done to a certain extent, but he wants more. He wants to make sure that it isn’t just the “America is a land of hard-working and accepted immigrants” myth. For technology and industrialization, he wants to show the pain associated with these things. He believes that focusing just on the technology gives too much credence to “progress” and ignores the real pains and struggles that came with industrialization, and the larger social changes it wrought. Same with deindustrialization.

Generally speaking, he wants more context. People should come away a sense of larger consequences and causes of historical change. It cannot be bundled up into a tidy narrative.

This is the major problem with Disney’s version of history. It wants to make people feel good, and as such it has to avoid contested points and controversy. That was an underlying problem with the Hall of Presidents and the proposed America theme park, among other things. He is not opposed to history being entertaining, but there are severe problems with relying on a company that specializes it entertaining and creating miniature, idealized versions of the past to accurately convey the complexities and darker parts of our own past. They want it to end on a positive note, marching toward a better future, and that is an agenda that cannot be matched with intellectual honesty.

The history of preservation has been a history of the elite. They leave a lot more artifacts behind and they are the ones who have spearheaded most historical preservationist moves. Businesses got on board in the 70s as a way of getting tax breaks and making money when the recession destroyed real estate prices, but with deregulation and the improving economy of the 80s, the alliance between preservationists and capitalists broke. Wallace’s line here seems to be that preservationism is ideologically opposed to market-driven capitalism, and needs to work on building a philosophy in opposition to mainstream capitalism rather than submitting to it or working with it.

The sections on technology or dated. I don’t know how many people think that VR helmets are the way of the future, but it seems less likely now than it did in the mid-90s. There are a lot of references to books and collections on CD-ROM. Wallace certainly cannot be blamed for underestimating the still developing internet of the mid-90s, but I would like to hear what he has to say about the integration of technology and exhibits now. He believed that online exhibits would not lead to lower turnouts in museums and that it was a good means of reaching out further into the larger community.

So, when putting together a museum you should: avoid particular, dominant narratives; remember context; think bigger than the particular focus of the museum; and embrace technology.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Footnotes on the iPad update

I have found that, without question, the most popular post on this blog was about using footnotes on the iPad. However, that post is very old, and some new things have happened since then.

I will assume that it is primarily academics and a handful of other professionals who need to know how to use footnotes on the iPad, so I will tailor this discussion to them. In short, the best app for footnotes on the iPad is still Pages. All you have to do is point where you want the note, press the “+” button on the lower right of the screen, and select footnote. It is as easy as it gets.

That is not to say that there are not some real problems with Pages, and I would say that using Pages is only practical if you also have Pages on your computer, which means that you need a mac. I say this because the Pages defaults are wildly stupid, and many cannot be changed on your iPad. For example, the main problem with the footnotes is that Pages automatically puts an extra line break in between your footnotes. I suppose that this is not the worst thing, and you can transfer the document to a Word format and it will be fine; it just drives me crazy. Why is that the default?! Why can’t I change it on my iPad?! The only way to avoid the problem is to create a document formatted the way that you want it on your home computer and send it to your iPad. In fact, that is the only way in which writing on your iPad is ever going to be practical. Format some documents the way that you want them on your computer, and then use them like templates on your iPad.

The main reason that I say that you need Pages on your computer is because you do not want to be translating Pages to Word, back and forth, to work on your iPad and on your home computer. It adds in a variety of problems with formatting and styles. When I write, I do it all in Pages and transfer it once to Word. That seems to work well.

There are some other options for footnotes on the iPad, but they are less practical. Quickoffice does not have them at all, so forget that. Docs2Go will display your footnotes and it will let you add them, but there is no way to edit them. Once they are in there, there is no changing them. Also, it changes my font when I move a Word document to Docs2Go. Next!

HopTo seemed promising, but it does not appear to have any footnote functions. GoDocs, which allows you use your Google docs, will allow you to use footnotes, but it is buggy (when I changed my gmail password after the heartbleed fiasco, I had to delete the app and reload it because it got stuck trying to log me in) and awkward to use. In order to insert a footnote, you need to use the desktop version (as opposed to mobile) of the document editor, which does not work well with the iPad pop-up keyboard. It is better if you have a bluetooth keyboard. This is a workable option, but not as clean or easy-to-use as Pages. Also, what if I need to work away from a wifi connection? I am not sure how well it would work.

Finally, you do now have the option of using the entire Microsoft Office suite on your iPad. I have not used it, but it claims to have the full usability of the desktop software. Reviews on the iTunes store are mixed, but I imagine that it does the job. The problem, for me, is the price. There is a minimum subscription of $7/month. That would be $84/year, every year. The iWork suite is free (or $10 per app, depending on when you bought your computer) for the desktop computer and $10 per app for the iPhone or iPad (with three apps, that is $30) to buy them forever, and they work on as many devices as I want. With the Microsoft $7 subscription, the Office suite works on only one mobile device.

I have done my share of cursing at Pages and Numbers (I generally like Keynote). The newest versions are less intuitive and powerful than the older versions. They have idiotic defaults. Apple clearly cares more about making them pretty than functional. The apps are not backward compatible and every few years I have to open and resave relevant Pages documents so that they can be usable on my iPad and the current version of Pages on my computer (this one really makes me angry; if I can open a paper I wrote in high school using Word, why can’t I open something I wrote two years ago on Pages?!). However, the iWork suite in general and Pages in particular are the most practical solution for academic and professional work on the iPad. If you must use Office and price is not a problem, buy a Microsoft subscription. If you think that Microsoft already gets too much of your money, go with Apple. That may be the first time anyone has ever said that.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What can you do with a History Ph.D.?

I have been seeing a number of articles and initiatives meant to foster greater career diversity among History Ph.D.s lately, including a whole postdoc devoted to it at New Mexico. I am sure that this has been going on for some time, but I have noticed it more lately because of my own predicament. I have been on the market for three years, I received my doctorate earlier this year, and I have yet to find full-time employment. With a child and a mortgage, the situation is rapidly becoming more serious. As most in my position know, the academic job market is terrible, and it seems the early modern European history market is shrinking rather than expanding. Meanwhile, there is a tremendous backlog of doctors out there who have graduated in recent years and have been unable to find employment for the above reasons and because the economic downturn upended job searches for several years. I ran across an article published by the AHA last year discussing the career tracks of people with degrees in history. In short, about half do not have tenure-track positions. Many of those are teaching in contract positions, but a substantial proportion have left academia altogether. You may also want to look at this piece at the History News Network and the study published by the MLA about the literary PhD (and for good measure, this one discussing some of the major criticisms of the MLA study).

As my job search continues to be fruitless, I have been applying to many non-academic jobs. This is not entirely because of the difficulty in finding an academic job; after so many years of part-time teaching and working on my dissertation, I am increasingly set on finding a job that actually pays me for doing work. For anyone out there, particularly outside of academia, who thinks that professors get summers off and don’t have to work that much, I want to tell you that that is not the case. It is, however, the case that professors are not paid for significant parts of their work that benefit students and their institutions. I realize how that can be confusing.

Here are some things that I have learned so far. I should have taken the opportunity to work at ABC-Clio (which resource you know if you have done much historical research on online databases) when I had the chance. It was based right next to UCSB. I also wish that I had found more ways to be engaged with some of the other digital humanities projects going on. I suppose that the key thing that I learned is that I should have used every opportunity to get experience that would have been useful for a job outside of academia.

I also learned that while historians are very skilled, there really is not much of a market for those skills. I had thought that some kind of writing job would be a good fit because history is such a writing-intensive discipline. However, most people do not recognize that. Also, most writing jobs emphasize marketing experience. I have applied to a number of writing-related jobs with no results. Oh, and build up your social media credibility; that is in a lot of job ads.

The other major part of being an historian is research, and we are excellent at that. However, most research that people want to pay you for is heavily quantitative. While my dissertation did involve some quantitative analysis, most of it is heavily qualitative and source-based. Take for example a job that I applied to (and have not heard anything back) at the IRS. It was for a social scientist. Essentially, the job is to figure out why people do not pay their taxes and to find ways to encourage them to do so. The simple answers to those problems are obvious, but the job sounds interesting to me and would seem to work well with my training. However, the position wanted someone from a social science field with lots of experience with statistical analysis. I am good at math and took a relevant course or two in college, but with my degrees I am afraid that I will not be considered at all for this position.

I am afraid that I do not have many answers to the title of this post. Yes, suggestions for revising the doctoral program and adding training that could be more widely applicable sound like a good idea. However, for those of us who have already finished our programs, what options do we have? Even if I get a one-year, full-time position for next year (an increasingly remote possibility), am I just dooming myself to another year of a frustrating job search? And, as I sometimes wonder in the middle of the night, at what point am I just participating in my own oppression?

There are a variety websites devoted to answering these kinds of questions. My favorite thus far is Versatile PhD. If you are lucky, your institution has a premium subscription. If not, you could join the AHA, which will also allow you access to premium content. When I am feeling particularly defeated or in need of inspiration, I can usually find some comfort there. One other major suggestion that I have is to take a look at federal jobs. Depending on what kind of job you get, you may be able to bargain for the US government to repay all or part of your student loans.

I think that the hardest part about leaving academia is finding a way to make the PhD worthwhile, because otherwise you feel like you have wasted years of your life. That said, don’t fall victim to the adjunct grind. Yes, it is something that you can do with your PhD, but with or without a PhD you are worth more than that. Anyone is worth more than that. So my suggestion is to think about things that you are better at than the other 99% of the population because of the process of getting your degree. If you come up with a clever answer, try it out and let me know.

PSA: The Chronicle of Education has a job/social media cite called Vitae. You have probably discovered that already. What you may not know is that it gives you the ability to automatically fill out your information in a college’s HR software, thus saving you the trouble of entering the same information for every job application.

Side note: I am not finished with Baker and Vernon yet. There has been too much going on around the house for me to devote enough time to it, but I will get a review up as soon as I can. Until then, why don’t you read that book that you have been meaning to get to?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Regicides and the Execution of Charles I (review)

So, it has been a while since my last, yet again. Things I learned: teaching American History is very easy and Winstanley had a very interesting mind. I am currently trying to rework an article to make it publishable (we will see how that goes) and am looking for full-time employment. It is likely that I will be leaving academia. Oh, and my first article just came out in Parliamentary History. But on to the topic of this post.

I will be writing a partial review of Jason Peacey, ed., The Regicides and the Execution of Charles I (New York: PALGRAVE, 2001). I have read chapters from this book before, but I recently called it back up from the library to look it back over while putting some polish on my article. I have not read all of the pieces and I will not even be reviewing all of the chapters that I have. For instance, Jason Peacey’s chapter, “Reporting a Revolution: a Failed Propaganda Campaign” is worth a read, but because I discuss it in my article, you can see some of my take on it in my article, if it ever comes out. Instead I will be reviewing these chapters:  John Morrill and Philip Baker, “Oliver Cromwell, the Regicide and the Sons of Zeruiah”; John Adamson, “The Frighted Junto: Perceptions of Ireland, and the Last Attempts at Settlement with Charles I”; Sean Kelsey, “Staging the Trial of Charles I”; David Scott, “Motives for King-Killing”; Andrew Sharp, “The Levellers and the End of Charles I”; and Elliot Vernon, “The Quarrel of the Covenant: the London Presbyterians.”

One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the regicide is when Oliver Cromwell decided to kill the king. After all, his decision was the most important. One of the traditional dates for this decision is late December (perhaps Dec. 26) 1648 and the failure of the earl of Denbigh’s mission to reach some kind of accord with the king. This mission has traditionally been dated Dec. 25. Gardiner believed that while Cromwell had wanted to save the king’s life, Charles’s refusal to even meet with Denbigh turned Cromwell against him (Gardiner, 4:285-7). Recently, Mark Kishlansky has thrown this chronology into disarray. In “Mission Impossible: Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, and the Regicide” (2010), Kishlansky argues that the Denbigh mission never happened. I bring this up because Kishansky’s argument, which appears sound, has to force us to reevaluate the sequence of decision-making, but these chapters were written nearly a decade before Kishlansky’s piece was published. They all assume the existence of the Denbigh mission. I want to be clear, I do not fault them for this; everyone accepted the existence of the Denbigh mission. Their arguments just have to be taken with a little more salt.

Ch. 1: Morrill and Baker, ” Oliver Cromwell, the Regicide and the Sons of Zeruiah,” 14-35.

Morrill and Baker seek to show the evolution of Cromwell’s thinking about Charles from October 1647. They do this using the lens of biblical allusion. Perhaps my favorite line from the whole piece is that “there is not a shred of evidence from this period that Cromwell read anything other than the Bible” (17). The authors argue that Cromwell was not opposed to monarchy itself before the regicide, but he became convinced by early November 1647 that God wanted Charles to be struck down, but he was uncertain about his and the army’s role.

The piece gets its title from one of Cromwell’s allusions. When Col. Harrison called for the prosecution of the king in 1647, Cromwell made a reference to David saying that he would not prosecute Joab for killing Abner because “the sons of Zeruiah were too hard for him.” The implication was that while Charles did deserve punishment, he was too dangerous for justice. The constant refrain throughout the chapter is that Cromwell wanted Charles dead, but also believed that killing him was a bad idea.

Morrill and Baker conclude that Cromwell was resolved on trying Charles by Nov. 25, 1648, but he had not committed himself to abolishing monarchy or necessarily killing the king, though the latter was a definite possibility. They show that Cromwell was not interested in overthrowing the monarchy through his references to the story of Gideon and Isaiah.

My own grasp of these biblical allusions is very weak, so I am not in a position to evaluate their accuracy, but from what I can understand Morrill and Baker have done something very interesting and useful here. It is generally accepted that Cromwell was a very devout man, and so it seems odd that there has not been more of these studies before now. In the absence of clear evidence about Cromwell’s sentiments leading up the regicide, his biblical reading and meditation are the best ways to understand his thinking.

Ch, 2: Adamson, “The Frighted Junto,” 36-70.

It may not surprise you to learn that Kishlansky took a very unflattering view of Adamson’s chapter. If there was not Denbigh mission, many parts of Adamson’s argument become suspect. However, he does follow through on one of his main purposes for his paper: to remind us that Charles was the king of three kingdoms. He also wants to explain the delay between Pride’s Purge and the king’s trial and the last minute attempts to make an accommodation with the king, particularly the Denbigh mission, despite the fact that the New Model’s “clarity of purpose . . . had shown through its public manifestos in November” (36-7).

Adamson, in keeping with his views of the wars as a final baronial revolt, puts a handful of lords at the center of the politics of the regicide. The delay of the trial was part of an attempt to get some of the Independent peers on board, or at least to keep them from becoming enemies. Warwick was a key figure in this because he controlled the fleet. Because of the “revolted ships” (mutinous ships that broke off from the rest of the fleet) and a potential invasion from Ireland, it was very important to keep Warwick happy.

Adamson makes a lot of guesses about secret meetings and peace proposals. For instance, he argues that Warwick brought proposals to settle the kingdom of some sort to Fairfax, but it is not clear what those were. Also, he argues that the Independent peers used the new of a trade agreement between the Dutch and the Kilkenny Confederation, making them defensive allies, to put pressure on the army to reach an accord with the king. The evidence for these meetings and plans do not appear to rest on clear evidence, but appear to be rumors more often than not.

There is much clearer evidence for the fear of Ormond. The army was enraged by Charles’s attempt to start a third war. Adamson also argues that the Denbigh mission was part of an attempt to halt plans for an Irish invasion. However, with the failure of the Denbigh mission, Cromwell began to accept that there would have to be a trial. Adamson believes that Cromwell had been trying to postpone or avoid a trial, and instead wanted to exact justice against notable royalists.

When it looked like Charles, Ormond, and Inchiquin were planning to go forward with an Irish invasion, the Lords tried to get parliament to pass a bill that made it treason for a king to raise a new war against parliament, which would have absolved him for the last two wars, but not if he launched a third; it was a threat. According to Adamson, attempts to reach an agreement with the king to halt an invasion continued, perhaps into the trial. However, “what the trial established, then, far more decisively than the monarch’s guilt for crimes past, was Charles I’s continuing determination to fight another war” (61). Adamson ends with the provocative line: “On the scaffold outside the Banqueting House, Charles I became the first casualty of the Cromwellian reconquest of Ireland” (62).

If there was no Denbigh mission, than much of Adamson’s argument does not hold up. Even so, there is not much supporting evidence for the behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing that the Lords were supposed to have been behind. However, the arguments concerning the fears of an Irish invasion appear sound. So much focus has been made on Charles’s “blood guilt” that, in much of what I have seen, not enough attention has been paid to Charles’s intention to start a third war. If the second was damning, the third would have been wantonly evil. In this way, Adamson has integrated the story of the regicide into the revisionist “wars of the three kingdoms.”

Ch. 3: Kelsey, “Staging the Trial of Charles I,” 71-93.

If you have not read any of Kelsey’s pieces, he wishes to prove that the trial of the king was not originally intended to be a show trial, but was part of an “extended negotiation” with the king. This negotiation failed because Charles refused to submit to the court and enter a plea. The piece in this book refers to that argument, but seeks to make a much more guarded point, that the people involved with the trial had different goals in mind, and not all of them were intent on regicide. Kelsey uses the symbolism of the materials used on the court and the insistence on there being a trial in Westminster under parliamentary control prove the above point. As an example, he argues that, because most of the commissioners appointed to the High Court of Justice were connected to parliament and because the trial was held in Westminster rather than Windsor, the message to Charles was that parliament was in charge and that the ancient constitution was not being threatened.

Kelsey’s other works have recently been taken to task by Clive Holmes, who dissects and disproves many of Kelsey’s arguments. My own work on the regicide, which may or may not be published sometime in the future, has also worked against Kelsey’s interpretation. However, the more careful point that Kelsey makes toward the end of this piece is more compelling. He says that “the trial had not been intended as a ramp for a republican settlement. By giving all parties something to hold onto, it had become the only way to keep on board as many parliamentarians as possible after the revolutionary hurricane broke at Westminster in December 1648” (86). While I am not sure that agree with all of the interpretations of the evidence here, this point warrants more consideration. If we are to follow Underdown and Worden, as I assume that we should, that in the aftermath of the Purge, Cromwell and the New Model officers tried to bring as many moderates on board with the new government as possible, even to the point of watering down the Engagement to the new government and cost of readmittance, why should this have not been the case with the High Court of Justice? When you kill a king, you do not want to be standing alone, after all, and by bringing on more moderates, you might be able to counterbalance the more radically minded conspirators (86).

Ch. 6: Scott, “Motives for King-Killing,” 138-60.

I thoroughly enjoyed this piece though, as Scott admits, there is not enough evidence to be certain about much. Scott wants to try to give backgrounds to some of the regicides to better understand why they would have signed the death warrant. While he cannot discuss all of them, he instead chose to focus on the regicides from the north: Westmorland, Cumberland, Northumberland, Durham, and Yorkshire. There were a surprising number of regicides from these five counties, and Scott wants to know why.

Republicanism was not a major motivator for most of these men. Scott frequently pointed to defense of godly religion as being centrally important, but it is not always easy to see how he made those leaps. For instance, with regard to John Alured, Scott assumes that because he did not appear to be a social or political revolutionary, “his motivation for regicide was either millenarian zeal or militant Puritan notions concerning the workings of providence” (145).

I enjoyed this piece as much as I did because it brought back the three-kingdom problem. In this case, the problem was not Ireland, but Scotland. Scott reads into these men, and the north in general, a powerful anti-Scottish feeling. Scott points out that these counties had the most experience with the Scottish armies, as allies to the English parliament and as enemies. Therefore, when the king allied with the Scots, he earned their hatred. This combined both the three-kingdom dimension to the war and the sense of Charles’s blood guilt.

Ch. 8: Sharp, “The Levellers and the End of Charles I,” 181-201.

Sharp’s overall goal is to explain how the Levellers came to be accused of royalism despite their anti-monarchial writings. He also wants to explain why the Levellers, who should have been overjoyed by the regicide because they had been asking for the king to be punished for years, came to oppose it. In short, the Levellers were ambiguous about the regicide when it happened. They came out against it because they were upset with the way the army was settling the kingdom, or, in Sharp’s words: ““Leveller royalism, such as it was, was the accidental production of the odium in which they held the new regime” (198).

Sharp’s argument is fairly simply stated and his evidence is not new, taking lots from Leveller pamphlets, particularly Lilburne’s Legal Fundamentall Liberties, so I am not going to go too deeply into it. The argument makes sense and does a good job of explaining the gap in Leveller propaganda in late 1648 and early 1649. He shows that Lilburne, from the start of the Whitehall Debates, made it clear that he did not trust the army to carry out justice against the king before they settled the kingdom, because he believed that the king was necessary to counterbalance the army for the time being. This is where Leveller royalism came from. I would recommend reading the chapter.

However, Sharp makes two points that, while not critical to his argument, were more questionable. Sharp agrees with Lilburne that Ireton used the debates over the Agreement to distract the Levellers while he and the officers went about preparing to execute Charles. This may be true, but it is a contested point, and I am not sure that there is enough evidence to prove it. Second, he points out that the Moderate supported the trial and execution, but refers to the newsbook as a Leveller paper, following Howell and Brewster. This would seem to work against his argument which depends on the Levellers having mixed feelings over the High Court of Justice. My own reading of the Moderate is that it was not a Leveller newsbook, but a radical Independent publication. This generally agrees with the interpretation by Jürgen Diethe, though I differ with him on a number of details. I would say that you could read about that in the fourth chapter of my dissertation, but it won’t be available for another 1.5 years. In any case, this latter reading of the Moderate helps to smooth out Sharp’s argument for the better.

Ch. 9: Vernon, “The Quarrrel of the Covenant”

I admit that I had never paid too much attention to the Presbyterian response to the regicide. I have looked at a lot (probably most) of the surviving pamphlets from this period and I noted some consistent themes, but because it was not my primary interest and what I saw generally seemed to match what I expected, I did not adventure further. Vernon explains the main thrusts of Presbyterian propaganda in this period as they sought to stop the regicide.

There were a few steps to this process. First, the Sion College ministers had to prove that they could legitimately get involved in politics. They used Paul and various parts of the Old Testament to do so, arguing that it was their duty to renounce sin or else be stained with it.

Then they had to answer charges that their own declarations from earlier in the war made regicide possible. They argued instead that it was the army that was breaking the rules of resistance. The Presbyterian ministers said that they had argued for resisting Charles through the lesser magistrate theory of resistance; parliament, which was itself part of the supreme authority over England along with the king, could justly resist the king. The army, however, was a “multitude of Private Persons” who had no authority to resist on its own (207).

The ministers kept going back to first engagements to demonstrate the army’s error. After all, if the army had been created by parliament to resist the king, how could the army use force against it? Also, if the war was about defending rights, privileges, and religion, what authority was there to kill a king? The Presbyterians kept going back to the Covenant, which itself became a “Presbyterian shibboleth” (212). This was a religious oath that the Presbyterians believed the army was breaking and in doing so threatened the country’s relationship with God.

There is a bit more to the argument than this, but it became clear that the central part of their argument against the regicide was the Covenant.

A few last general thoughts:

Much has been made over Charles’s blood guilt, and certainly that appears to have been a central motivation for regicide, but one thing that a few of these pieces make is that it was not just the past wars but the threat of future war that made it necessary to kill Charles. In general, more attention needs to be paid to the Wars of the Three Kingdoms aspect and more tangible parts of the war, such as suffering, than religious and political arguments over whether or not it was okay to kill the king While it is no longer a new book, I think it does help to stimulate further thinking about the regicide, and through that, the nature of the conflicts of the 1640s.

I have begun reading Baker and Vernon’s edited collection on the Agreements of the People. With my other responsibilities (child care, household maintenance, applying for jobs, etc.) I only get at best a chapter of reading in a night, but I will be putting together a review of it when I am done. I have gotten a lot out of their work in the past, so I am optimistic about the book. It has been nice having even the limited time that I have to get back into keeping up with the scholarship of the period.

This blog post has already chewed quite a bit of my time, so it has only received very cursory proofreading. My apologies.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

US History and Gerrard Winstanley

First, a little on teaching U.S. history. It is surprisingly easy. As a well worn survey course, there is a very clear path for teaching it. Despite my earlier reservations, I am enjoying teaching it. The material seems to affect the students far more deeply since it is not so far removed from them either geographically or temporally. My students have generally been stunned to learn about some of the utterly awful things that the U.S. has done and have really engaged with some of the material. I think I may have gone too far last week with a source about abandoned and murdered babies in New York. Even I had a hard time getting through that one. I haven’t seen my students since then, but I will bet that they will have a lot to say on it. I wonder if this is what it is like teaching a nation’s history in that nation. Would it be like teaching English history in England?

I am proceeding with learning about Winstanley.  He is fascinating.  I have read a good amount of secondary material on him—but there is so much that I have barely scratched the surface—and am currently working my way through Law of Freedom. There isn’t too much in the way of utopian literature from this period, but this one merits a read.

My paper is taking shape in my head.  I am planning to discuss Joachim of Fiore a little bit to see his larger historical plan.  Then I am going to show its continuing relevance in the Radical Reformation through Thomas Müntzer and one of his printers, Hans Hergot. Both have distinct Joachist leanings.  What will be useful here is to start considering the utopias laid out by Fiore, Hergot, and Winstanley. I still don’t know too much about Fiore’s other than some broad outlines, but Hergot’s and Winstanley’s show some similarities.  Most importantly, both have retained clear government despite believing that they were part of the age of the Holy Spirit in which equality and freedom would reign.  I will mostly focus on the concepts of equality and freedom presented in these works.  Winstanley is particularly fascinating because his version of freedom allowed for a totalitarian government.  Something that seems to come out of both sources is that freedom means having freedom from economic dependence.

Here are some observations that I made about Winstanley so far, most of which I have not seen others discuss, but some that I have.  Overall, I have started to view him as a version of Carlo Ginzburg’s Menocchio.  He appears to have cobbled together his philosophy from different things he has heard or read. He frequently makes use of concepts or words particularly popular in the late 1640s (like “no respecter of persons” and saluus populi, suprema lex).  I think he may have been an Arminian, or at least he was not a fan of predestination.  I’m not sure where he would have picked this up, but he may not have believed in heaven or hell.  He picked up some Baconian philosophy and appears to have some knowledge of developing reforms in natural philosophy. He was a big fan of understanding God through his “second book.”  I could probably dig up more, but I am guessing that this was the result of his haphazard education, as others like James Alsop have remarked upon, and a tendency to be, as Winstanley described, one who “keeps his thoughts to himself” while searching for answers.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized