Broadway’s Hamilton; rescuing Jefferson; learning from Watts; dealing w/Rebels@UT; a prof defends his work against the challenges of a 14 yr old.

I’ve posted about this before, but the Broadway musical about Hamilton just keeps on getting more and more positive attention, and is introducing audiences to the Founders in a relatable way. “I don’t know why they don’t teach us history in this way. I don’t know why they don’t teach that these people were human beings. They make them demigods and they make them so far out of our reach,” says Leslie Odom Jr., who stars as Aaron Burr. “These were regular people who were petty and jealous and had affairs and had scandals, but they still were able to do remarkable things.”

This thing must really be a good show. Critics are raving, celebrities are attending in large numbers, and the ticket demands are the hottest in years. (Heck, even Thomas Jefferson couldn’t get a ticket:

And speaking of Jefferson, here a UVA prof tries to rescue Tom from the damage that has been done to his reputation by his complex connection with slavery. (Perhaps the Jefferson scholars are getting defensive now that Hamilton is the toast of the town? Just sayin’).

Like many others teachers/profs, to place Ferguson into historical context I often discuss with my students the Watts riots. Today is the anniversary of the event, and the NY Times has this Op-ed on how we “still haven’t learned from Watts.”

A University of Texas “task force” has come up with what I consider to be good recommendations for how to deal with the Rebel monuments on campus.

The story about the 14 year old student that challenged the work of a college professor in regards to Irish discrimination caused a big stir. But here the professor responds by (not surprisingly) rejecting the girl’s findings and arguing that they show that while the internet can be a powerful historical research tool, it needs “expert oversight.”


2 thoughts on “Broadway’s Hamilton; rescuing Jefferson; learning from Watts; dealing w/Rebels@UT; a prof defends his work against the challenges of a 14 yr old.

  1. Professor Jensen should have taken the high road, mindful of his status as a retired and respected senior academic, and not got into a pissing match over primary sources with a 14-year-old. Punching waaaay below one’s weight class in public is never a good idea.

    Jensen says, in the third graf of his manuscript, that “apart from want ads for personal household workers, the NINA slogan has not turned up in the newspapers.” Ms. Fried’s manuscript, however, includes an appendix with eight pages of NINA ads that are directed at men, in all manner of jobs, from barkeeps to wagon drivers to clerks to lumber salesmen. There’s no question that Jensen’s assertion about want ads was incorrect, and he’s now focusing on signs to divert attention away from his own missed sources.

    Part of engaging in any scholarly endeavor is the near-certain knowledge that someone is eventually going to come along and refine, or outright reject, one’s own work. No one likes it to happen to them, but it does. I’m sure it stings that Ms. Fried’s work was published in the same journal that Jensen’s was, but he would have done better simply to say something about how technology has made primary sources more easily available today that even ten years ago, and ended by welcoming her to the ranks of academic historians.


    • Andy, I absolutely agree. I think taking a higher road in response would have been the better thing to do. Of course it does give the kid a quick introduction to what a snarky and defensive lot that historians can be.


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