This has been a productive summer (so far!). It began with a visit to Japan with my children. We joined Professor Kibler and a group of F&M students who were there on a study abroad program. Since our return I've been working on two projects. The first is an edited volume on the challenges of "engaged scholarship" in a higher education system increasingly under political scrutiny and financial hardships. The volume, to be published by the University of Illinois Press, originated in a 2011 conference in honor of my graduate school advisor and labor historian, Shelton Stromquist. The second project is my new book on Economic Citizenship in Reagan's America. I am on research leave this fall and will visit archives in Boston, Detroit and New York City.
Summer started early this year. From May 1–10, I went to China with the Richard Nixon Legacy Journey, a tour sponsored by the Nixon Foundation as part of its celebrations commemorating the centennial of the former president's birth. Following the itinerary of the historic 1972 trip to the People's Republic (and traveling with Nixon's grandson Christopher Cox), we visited Beijing (complete with a symposium and formal dinner in the Great Hall of the People), the Great Wall (at Badaling), Hangzhou, and Shanghai. In June, I participated in the first ever summer writers' workshop sponsored by the Popular Culture/American Culture Association and hosted by New York University. During the week, we toured the rare book collection at NYU's Bobst Library, the Museum of Sex and the "Punk: Chaos to Couture" exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And, during the week, I managed to complete a first draft of a proposal for my next book—a history of David Frost's 1977 Nixon Interviews and their subsequent life in U.S. cultural memory. Capping off a busy and productive summer, I went up to Rhode Island for three days in August to interview Jack Brennan (Nixon's chief of staff during the Frost interviews) and to go through his papers located in Providence College's archives. On the way back to Lancaster, I stopped in New York City to use the video collections at the Paley Center for the Media in preparation for teaching my new AMS 373 course, "As Seen on TV: History as Media Event."
David Schuyler and I had another productive summer working on Volume 9 of the Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted. We were ably helped by two Hackman scholars this summer: Jeff Schlossberg (HIS) ’14 and Molly Winik (AMS) ’14. Our major project for the summer was checking the annotations for the more than 200 letters in the volume, a painstaking process. But along the way, we took on a variety of projects: researching a wide range of materials for annotations, putting together project summaries for various park systems, helping to draft an introduction for the volume, scanning in previously-illegible letters and transcribing them, and discussing the absurdity of the television show Naked and Afraid. Beyond Olmsted, I presented a paper on Sports and Race in 1950s America at Gettysburg College in July, and have been working on two additional papers: an article about un-built Boston parks and recreation areas, and a conference paper about the economic activism of black college athletes in the late 1960s. Most importantly, my wife and daughter and I engaged in a variety of fun activities, including a weeklong trip to Key West, visits to local farms, eating a lot of ice cream and a day at Dutch Wonderland.
My summer started with an exciting 5-week F&M travel course in Japan. Even though I do not know any Japanese, I took 8 students to Tohoku Gakuin University (TGU) in Sendai, Japan. F&M has a regular exchange program with TGU. I joined four of the F&M students in beginning Japanese class for 3 weeks and learned the basics of day-to-day conversation: sumimasen ("sorry, excuse me"--I said that a lot!), konichiwa ("hello/good day") and arrigato gosaimas ("thank you"). After 3 weeks, we travelled to Hiroshima, Kyoto and Tokyo. I was very pleased that my family joined me for the second half of the Japan visit. The Hiroshima visit was great for an American Studies professor because I saw Japan's interpretation of the atomic bomb at the Hiroshima Museum. The Japanese museum emphasized the struggle of the survivors to overcome the devastation and then focused on ways to promote peace in the world today. Along with the Japan travels, I spent my summer time finishing my book manuscript, The Devil's Melting Pot: Irish, Jewish and African American Protests Against Mass Culture, 1890-1930. I did a quick research trip at the Library of Congress about NAACP protests against The Birth of a Nation and my book manuscript is now being reviewed by University of North Carolina Press.
This has been a busy, productive summer for me. Most of it has been spent finishing my book, “Sundered By A Memory:” Foreign Policy, Militarism, and the Vietnamization of American Memory, which the University of Massachusetts Press will publish in 2014. I’ve been in the office most days reading, rewriting and revising. I have been helped in that process by Leah Brenner ’15, who checked every citation in my manuscript and saved me a lot of time and more than a little embarrassment. Along with finishing the book, I have been working with Professor Kibler on a grant proposal to bring more digital humanities to our curriculum and with Laura Browder, my colleague at the University of Richmond, to begin a project documenting the Iraq veterans’ demands for reparations from the U.S. government. The book deadline (which I beat by five days!) hasn’t left much time for fun and travel, but we’ve been experimenting (rather successfully) with our first garden and taking a lot of long bike rides through Lancaster County. I am looking forward to closing out the summer with week in Montreal before we come back for the start of the semester.
Summer 2013 is disappearing too fast as most summers do. Involvement with students doesn’t disappear from my life; it just happens outside the classroom. There’s been time to advise two students from the University of Chichester who visited the college on an exchange program. The History department will sponsor a visit by our students to that university during 2014. While in Lancaster, the Brits took advantage of the college library and its internet resources to pursue research on their senior theses—one on Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy and the other on antebellum politics as reflected in the careers of Thaddeus Stevens and James Buchanan. Under the Hackman Summer Scholars program, history majors Rick Thoben '15 and Krissy Montville '14 archived the collection of the Lancaster Junior League. Its papers will now be available in the College Archives and should provide primary sources for investigation of Lancaster women’s engagement with their community. Finally, I’ve been advising American Studies major Dan Burke '14, who is trying to prove that the new donation of a Federal period mantel to the college’s Phillips Museum actually does have some connection to John Marshall. Dan’s been learning the difference between the testimony of oral tradition and verifiable facts. My own work on Lincoln Thought Globally nears the finish line. The completed manuscript now awaits a thumbs-up or -down from professional peers. Until judgment day, I have time to watch my garden grow and to attend family gatherings for weddings, 90th birthdays and other significant events.