Professional historians and historically-informed writers and researchers bring powerful perspectives to today’s burning issues and national dialogs, but how can faculty experts effectively share their insights with the general public? The War & Society Program’s participation in a new section of The Washington Post titled Made by History offers one exciting new avenue for readers to learn from our nationally-renowned faculty scholars.
Made by History serves as a historical balance to the feeling of unprecidentendess in today’s news, a reminder of where we’ve come from as a nation, and how history can inform our conversations today.
Editors Brian Rosenwald, Carly Goodman and Kathryn Cramer Brownell describe the goal of Made by History perspective pieces:
“In an era seemingly defined by the word unprecedented, it’s easy to feel like political, technological and social revolutions have severed our link to history. But revolutions are as much a product of the past as a break with it. We need to understand the history behind the breakneck news.”
In one recent article, Dr. Kyle Longley (History; War and Society) tackled the perceived increasing vitriol and bad spirits in politics today. In his piece Our politics is no uglier or more dysfunctional than in the past, Longley examines the largely forgotten story of Senator Lester Hunt. Hunt, a critic of senator Joseph McCarthy, faced incredible pressures and retaliation in the form of attacks on his character, blackmail, even the entrapment and arrest of his own son. Due to these pressures Hunt shockingly gave up his reelection campaign in June of 1954. Just days later, in his own Senate office, Hunt took his own life.
“Today, Hunt has largely been forgotten.” Longley writes, “But his story remains important and relevant, because it reveals that even during the postwar period — recalled by many as a golden era of political consensus, bipartisanship and cooperation — the politics were every bit as brutish and dirty as they are today, and maybe more so.”
In other examples, non-fiction historical contributor Les Standiford writes on the disappearance of the circus from American life and the impact of community event entertainment. A piece by American Historian Julio Capó Jr. focuses on the innate connections between immigrant and LGBTQ rights. Environmental and business historian Bart Elmore discusses the interconnections of industries who decide what chemicals farms use to produce our food.
To foster its new partnership with The Washington Post, the War and Society Program will be inviting the editors of Made by History for a summer workshop with Wilkinson faculty members interested in perfecting their skills to craft effective pieces that apply their expertise and research to real-world problems today.
This partnership brings to the forefront the role of the public intellectual as a vital connection between academia and real-world, on the ground aspects of society and culture. Dean Jennifer Keene states, “This partnership offers our faculty an excellent opportunity to evoke the vital importance and ongoing relevance of the arts, humanities, and social sciences to understanding our world – how we got here, who we are, and where we are going as a society.”