Scott Casper, CAHSS Dean, in Talking Points Memo

On October 9, Talking Points Memo (TPM) published a story analyzing the recent controversial College Board decision to release a revised framework on the way AP U.S. history is taught. Since the decision was released two years ago, it has drawn backlash from many who call the new framework unpatriotic and revisionist.

Scott Casper

Scott Casper, Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of History, was quoted extensively in the story and commented on recent shifts in American history education. Casper, who edits the “Textbooks and Teaching” section of the Journal of American History, said the debate isn’t exactly new. He said the new framework reflects a shift in teaching history in that more colleges and high schools are emphasizing “historical thinking skills.” He also noted there’s been a shift in topics covered, including incorporating the stories of women, African-Americans and immigrants to a greater extent.

Commenting on the concept of revisionist history, Casper said: “Those who criticize the teaching of what they call revisionist history are certainly part of a long tradition because every time we learn more about the past, we are revising our understanding of the past,” he said. “So in a sense, history is always revisionist.”

To read the full article, click here.

George Derek Musgrove, History, on WAMU’s Metro Connection

On Friday, September 26, WAMU, the NPR affiliate in Washington, D.C., aired a discussion on the history of gentrification and political representation in the nation’s capital. The segment ran on Metro Connection, a weekly news magazine program.

Derek Musgrove

George Derek Musgrove ’97, history, associate professor of history, was interviewed for the story and provided historical context and analysis of gentrification in Washington. Musgrove discussed “The Plan,” a concept that newspaper columnist Lillian Wiggins wrote about in the 1970s and believed would transform the city.

“She believed that whites in D.C. had a plan to come back and take over the city — both its real estate, its physical space, and its politics,” Musgrove said during the segment. He added that it’s important to look more deeply at what Wiggins was describing given the demographics of the city at the time: “I think there were a number of things that caused people to look at The Plan as a viable explanation for what was happening around them,” he said. A major factor, he explained, was “our lack of statehood, and Congress’s ability to meddle in the city’s affairs.”

In a separate segment, Musgrove noted that, “D.C. has had a post-industrial economy for its entire history.” He identified four waves of gentrification in D.C., each lining up with expansion of the federal government. In the 1970s and 80s, there was a burst of development in what had become very poor inner city neighborhoods.

“The rate of displacement in places like Adams Morgan, Logan Circle, Columbia Heights, was astonishing. I mean absolutely astonishing. Developers would buy up in certain cases whole streets, and send out notices: ‘Please get out in the next month, we’re going to be fixing these places up.’ And renters, by the year 1978 just revolted.”

To listen to the full segments, click below:
Is Gentrification in D.C. Going According to “The Plan?”
Why Did African Americans Leave Georgetown?

Anne Sarah Rubin, History, in the Washington Post

Through the Heart of DixieAn article published September 13 in the Washington Post examines the legacy of Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s March to the Sea during the Civil War. Anne Sarah Rubin, an associate professor of history, was interviewed for the article and provided insight on Sherman’s strategy.

“It’s very much about saying, ‘Here’s the power of the Union army,’ ” said Rubin. Sherman’s purpose, she said, was to convey to the South that “you cannot stop us. You cannot resist us. You just need to give up.” She also commented on Sherman’s background, saying he was “a far cry from any kind of abolitionist.” To read the full article, click here.

Rubin is author of, Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman’s March and American Memory (UNC Press 2014). In the book, Rubin analyzes stories and myths about Sherman’s March as a lens for examining how Americans’ ways of thinking about the Civil War have changed over time. For more information, click here.

Kate Brown, History, Wins Heldt Prize and Western History Association’s Robert G. Athearn Prize

History Professor Kate Brown has won two additional awards for her book, Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford University Press 2013).

Kate Brown

Brown has been awarded the Heldt Prize in the category of Best Book in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian Studies from the Association for Women in Slavic Studies. More information about the award, including prior winners, can be found here. Brown won the same prize for her first book, A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland (Harvard 2004). The prize will be awarded in November.

In addition, Brown is the 2014 recipient of the Western History Association’s Robert G. Athearn Prize for her book Plutopia. This award is given biennially for the best published book on the twentieth century American West. On October 16, Brown is presenting the Robert. G Athearn Lecture at the University of Colorado, Boulder. More information can be found here.

Earlier this year, Brown was awarded the 2014 Ellis W. Hawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians (OAH) for the best book-length historical study of the political economy, politics, or institutions of the United States, in its domestic or international affairs, from the Civil War to the present. She also received the American Society for Environmental History’s George Perkins Marsh Prize for the best book in environmental history.

Humanities Forum: Children of Rus': Ukraine and the Invention of a Russian Nation (10/2)

On Thursday, October 2 at 4 p.m., Faith Hillis, an assistant professor of Russian history at the University of Chicago, will present the Humanities Forum and Webb Lecture, “Children of Rus': Ukraine and the Invention of a Russian Nation. The event will take place in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery.

Webb LectureDuring the recent crisis in Ukraine, Russian national interests in Ukraine became front-page news. In this talk, Prof. Hillis places the struggle for control of Ukraine in a broader historical context. The nineteenth century saw a powerful and transformative Russian nationalist movement sweep across what is today central Ukraine. Claiming to restore the ancient customs of the East Slavs, the region’s Russian nationalists sought to empower local Orthodox residents and to diminish the influence of non-Orthodox minorities. By about 1910, Russian nationalism had become the preeminent political force in central Ukraine, dwarfing the influence of rival national movements; indeed, the region boasted the most politically successful Russian nationalist movement in the entire tsarist empire.

Reconstructing how and why Russian nationalism took hold on the empire’s southwestern periphery, Prof. Hillis puts forth a bold new interpretation of the relationship between state and society and between center and periphery under tsarism. By examining how intellectual developments in the nineteenth century created the architecture for the horrific violence of the twentieth, this discussion reflects on the causes of and offers potential solutions for the current crisis in Ukraine.

The event is sponsored by the History Department and by the Dresher Center for the Humanities. For more information, click here.

George Derek Musgrove, History, in The Philadelphia Tribune

An article published September 7 in The Philadelphia Tribune discusses the case of U.S. Rep. Chakka Fattah, a ten term representative from Philadelphia who is facing corruption allegations, charges and guilty pleas surrounding his family. George Derek Musgrove ’97, history, associate professor of history, is quoted in the article and discusses the case of Fattah Sr. and his son, Fattah Jr., explaining that children of Black political families often go into businesses connected to their parents’ political power.

Derek Musgrove“There is a much higher percentage of white political families that produce their wealth from non-government related private businesses than there are Black ones,” Musgrove told The Tribune. “The children of many Black political families reproduce their class position by going into business[es] that are somehow connected to their parents’ political power. This may make them more susceptible to investigators looking for influence peddling.”

Musgrove added: “These young men grow up with the privileges associated with their parents’ status and take them for granted. Their children did not necessarily have an organic connection to these communities and that can sometimes lead them to use these communities for their own gain. They tend to have the same opportunities for graft afforded their white peers but not the same political protections.”

To read the full article in The Philadelphia Tribune titled, “Fattah not the first Black political family with money troubles,” click here.

Scott Casper, Dean of the College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, on WYPR’s Humanities Connection

Who are we and where have we been are questions fundamental to the human existence that are studied by UMBC students as part of a well-rounded liberal arts education. Scott Casper, Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and Professor of History, recently provided a commentary on WYPR’s Humanities Connection in which he advocated for studying the humanities as a way to prepare students for a thoughtful and civically engaged life.

Scott Casper

“In a world of polarized politics and cost-benefit analysis, our realm of possibilities is often cast as ‘either-or': Republican or Democratic, guns or butter, right or wrong. A liberal arts education encourages us to imagine another approach: not ‘either-or,’ but ‘both-and,’ a world of complexities rather than easy answers, interconnections rather than boundaries,” said Casper.

As part of his commentary, Casper outlined five distinct areas in which UMBC students encounter “both-and”: the global and the local, the changing and the timeless, the intellectual and the spiritual, the arts and the sciences, and thought and action.

“By asking questions that are fundamental to human existence and by encouraging ‘both-and,’ rather than simplistic ‘either-or,’ answers, the liberal arts prepare students at UMBC and elsewhere for a lifetime of reflection and purpose,” Casper said, adding, “the interplay of reflection and purpose is the bedrock of thoughtful citizenship, and the hallmark of a life well-lived.”

To listen to the full segment that aired on Humanities Connection, click here.