Joshua Rovner, Tower Center, Dealing with Putin’s strategic incompetence

War on the Rocks

Originally Posted: August 7, 2015

Vladimir Putin is a bad strategist: He does not understand the relationship between military violence and political objectives. In the last two years, he has all but ruined his aspiration to return Russia to the ranks of the great powers. His ham-fisted annexation of Crimea, along with his transparent support for secessionists in the ongoing civil war in East Ukraine, has been disastrous for Russian interests. Putin’s adventurism led to stock market chaos, a major currency crisis, and staggering levels of capital flight — all of which have compounded the problem of collapsing oil prices. The loss of revenue is damaging Russia’s conventional military power because the government will struggle mightily to modernize its forces. Meanwhile, Putin has breathed new life into NATO, an alliance that had been searching for common purpose and sagging under the weight of the war in Afghanistan. READ MORE

Clements Foundation Gifts to SMU-in-Taos Cap Legacy of Giving From William P. Clements, Jr.

WILLIAM_P_CLEMENTS_JRDALLAS (SMU) – When friends and supporters of SMU-in-Taos gathered at the New Mexico campus in July to celebrate the opening of the Carolyn and David Miller Campus Center, the event also underscored more than four decades of visionary support from the late Bill Clements, Jr. ‘39 and the Clements Foundation.

Clements and his wife, Rita, contributed more than $7.5 million toward development of facilities and programs for the Taos campus before his death in 2011. Now, a $1 million gift from the Clements Foundation will support the position of the William P. Clements, Jr. Endowed Executive Director of SMU-in-Taos, currently held by Mike Adler, SMU associate professor of anthropology. The Clements Foundation also honored Clements through its support of the Miller Campus Center and the naming of the center’s William P. Clements, Jr. Great Hall.  READ MORE

Edward Countryman, History, How Textbooks Can Teach Different Versions Of History

NPR

Originally Posted: July 13, 2015

This summer there’s been an intense debate surrounding the Confederate flag and the legacy of slavery in this country.

In Texas that debate revolves around new textbooks that 5 million students will use when the school year begins next month.

The question is, are students getting a full and accurate picture of the past?

Eleventh-grade U.S. history teacher Samantha Manchac is concerned about the new materials and is already drawing up her lesson plans for the coming year. She teaches at The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, a public school in Houston.

The first lesson she says she’ll give her kids is how textbooks can tell different versions of history. “We are going to utilize these textbooks to some extent, but I also want you to be critical of the textbooks and not take this as the be-all and end-all of American history,” she imagines telling her new students.

She doesn’t want to rely solely on the brand-new texts because she says the guidelines for the books downplay some issues — like slavery — and skirt others — like Jim Crow laws.

She says it’s “definitely an attempt in many instances to whitewash our history, as opposed to exposing students to the reality of things and letting them make decisions for themselves.”

You might be wondering how Texas got these books in the first place, so here’s a quick history lesson:

In 2010 the Texas State Board of Education adopted new, more conservative learning standards.

Among the changes — how to teach the cause of the Civil War.

One side of the debate: Republican board member Patricia Hardy said, “States’ rights were the real issues behind the Civil War. Slavery was an after issue.”

On the other side: Lawrence Allen, a Democrat on the board: “Slavery and states’ rights.”

Ultimately the state voted to soften slavery’s role, among other controversial decisions, and these standards became the outline for publishers to sell books to the Texas market — the second-largest in the country.

The final materials were approved last fall after the state board did some examination and said the books get the job done.

Brian Belardi from McGraw-Hill Education, the publisher of some of the new material, agrees. “The history of the Civil War is complex and our textbook accurately presents the causes and events,” he said, adding that the Texas books will not be used for the company’s clients in other states.

History professor Edward Countryman isn’t so sure the materials do a good job.

“What bothered me is the huge disconnect between all that we’ve learned and what tends to go into the standard story as textbooks tell it,” says Countryman, who teaches at Southern Methodist University near Dallas and reviewed some of the new books.

He thinks the books should include more about slavery and race throughout U.S. history.

“It’s kind of like teaching physics and stopping at Newton without bringing in Einstein, and that sort of thing,” he says.

“The history of the United States is full of the good, the bad and the ugly, and often at the same time,” says Donna Bahorich, the current chairwoman of the Texas Board of Education.

While she admits the state standards didn’t specifically mention important things like Jim Crow laws, she says she’s confident students will still get the full picture of history if teachers, and the new books, fill in the blanks. LISTEN

Jeremy DuQuesnay Adams, History, No Mere “Boob,” This SMU Professor Was Immortalized in “Yellow Submarine”

Dallas Observer

Originally Posted: June 3, 2015

jeremy_duquesnay_adams_jeremy_hallock

A longtime professor at Southern Methodist University, Jeremy DuQuesnay Adams has dedicated his life to education and writing. By his own admission, he knows very little about music. He was only involved with something music related on one occasion, but it just happened to do with the Beatles. In 1968, the group released the animated film Yellow Submarine to great critical and commercial success. The film is now recognized as a widely influential classic. And a major character in it was based on Adams. READ MORE

Alexis McCrossen, History, history of the wristwatch

The Atlantic

Originally Posted: May 27, 2015

On July 9, 1916, The New York Times puzzled over a fashion trend: Europeans were starting to wear bracelets with clocks on them. Time had migrated to the human wrist, and the development required some explaining.

“Until recently,” the paper observed, “the bracelet watch has been looked upon by Americans as more or less of a joke. Vaudeville artists and moving-picture actors have utilized it as a funmaker, as a ‘silly ass’ fad.”

But the wristwatch was a “silly-ass fad” no more. “The telephone and signal service, which play important parts in modern warfare, have made the wearing of watches by soldiers obligatory,” the Times observed, two years into World War I. “The only practical way in which they can wear them is on the wrist, where the time can be ascertained readily, an impossibility with the old style pocket watch.” Improvements in communications technologies had enabled militaries to more precisely coordinate their maneuvers, and coordination required soldiers to discern the time at a glance. Rifling through your pocket for a watch was not advisable in the chaos of the trenches. READ MORE

Seven Dedman College professors receive emeritus status in 2014-15

Congratulations to the following professors who received emeritus status in 2014-2015. The professors, and their dates of service:

buchanan

 

Christine Buchanan, Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1977-2015

 

CARTER

 

Bradley Kent Carter, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1970-2015

 

Cortese

 

Anthony Cortese, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1989-2015

 

habermanRichard Haberman, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1978-2015

 

 

Hopkins D11

 

James K. Hopkins, Professor Emeritus of History, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1974-2015

 

ubelaker

 

John Ubelaker, Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1968-2015

 

ben_wallace

 

Ben Wallace, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1969-2015

 

Dr. James K. Hopkins, History, Receives Inaugural SMU Second Century Faculty Career Award

Congratulations to Dr. Hopkins, Professor of History, Clements Department of History and Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor, on receiving the first SMU Second Century Faculty Career Achievement Award. Professor Hopkins’ achievements exemplify a career of outstanding accomplishments in scholarship, teaching and sustained commitment to the University.

Read the official SMU press release.

Read more about Dr. Hopkins.

 

Jill Kelly, History, includes her signature to an open letter criticizing 60 Minutes reporting on Africa

Al Jazeera

Originally Posted: March 26, 2015

Dear Jeff Fager, executive producer of CBS’ “60 Minutes,”

We, the undersigned, are writing to express our grave concern about the frequent and recurring misrepresentation of the African continent by “60 Minutes.”

In a series of recent segments from the continent, “60 Minutes” has managed, quite extraordinarily, to render people of black African ancestry voiceless and all but invisible.

Two of these segments were remarkably similar in their basic subject matter, featuring white people who have made it their mission to rescue African wildlife. In one case these were lions, and in another, apes. People of black African descent make no substantial appearance in either of these reports, and no sense whatsoever is given of the countries visited, South Africa and Gabon. READ MORE

The best books in Texas: Texas Institute of Letters finalists named

Congratulations to Ezra Greenspan, a finalist for the Carr P. Collins Award for Best Book of Non-fiction and two SMU history PhD alumni, Ramirez Award and Alicia M. Dewey, both finalists for the Texas Institute of Letters most scholarly book. READ MORE

Dallas Morning News
Originally Posted: March 24, 2015
By: Michael Merschel

The venerable Texas Institute of Letters has named finalists for its annual awards, which honor the state’s best writing.

Fiction finalists are Elizabeth Crook, for Monday, Monday; Manuel Luis Martinez, for Los Duros; and Smith Henderson, for Fourth of July Creek.

In nonfiction, it’s Michael Morton, for Getting Life: An Innocent Man’s 25-Year Journey from Prison to Peace; Southern Methodist University’s Ezra Greenspan, for William Wells Brown: An African American Life; and Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, for Dr. Mutter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine.

The finalists for best debut fiction are local writer Merritt Tierce, for Love Me Back; Joe Holley, for The Purse Bearer; and Ralph Compton, for Comanche Trail.

And as previously announced, the TIL will present its prestigious Lon Tinkle Award, “for an outstanding career in letters that has brought honor to the state,” to Lawrence Wright.

Winners will be named April 11 in Houston at the annual meeting for the TIL, which is marking its 79th year. Here’s the complete list of nominees and prizes:

Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction ($6,000)

Elizabeth Crook, Monday, Monday; Manuel Luis Martinez, Los Duros; Smith Henderson, Fourth of July Creek.

Steven Turner Award for Best Work of First Fiction ($1,000)

Merritt Tierce, Love Me Back; Joe Holley, The Purse Bearer; Ralph Compton, Comanche Trail.

Carr P. Collins Award for Best Book of Non-fiction ($5,000)

Michael Morton, Getting Life: An Innocent Man’s 25-Year Journey from Prison to Peace; Ezra Greenspan, William Wells Brown: An African American Life; Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, Dr.Mutter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine.

Ramirez Award for Most Significant Scholarly Book ($2,500)

Lawrence T. Jones, III, Lens on the Texas Frontier; Houston Faust Mount II, Oil Field Revolutionary; Alicia M. Dewey, Pesos and Dollars.

Helen C. Smith Memorial Award for Best Book of Poetry ($1,200)

Katherine Hoerth, Goddess Wears Cowboy Boots; Jan Seale,The Parkinson Poems; Carmen Tafolla, This River Here: Poems of San Antonio.

Bob Bush Memorial Award For First Book Of Poetry ($1,000)

Chloe Honum, The Tulip-Flame; Ben Olguin, Red Leather Gloves; Gayle Laudrun, Reaching for Air.

Edwin “Bud” Shrake Award for Short Nonfiction ($1,000)

Pamela Colloff, “The Witness” in Texas Monthly (Sept. 2014); Alan Peppard, “Islands of the Oil Kings” in The Dallas Morning News (Dec 7, 14, and 21); Michael Hall, “The Murders at the Lake” in Texas Monthly (April 2014).

Kay Cattarulla Award for Best Short Story ($1,000)

Brian Van Reet, “Eat the Spoil;” Paul Christensen, “The Man Next Door;” Andrew Geyer, “Fingers.”

Denton Record-Chronicle Best Children’s Picture Book ($500)

Pat Mora, I Pledge Allegiance; Arun Ghandi and Bethany Hegedus, Grandfather Ghandi; J.L.Powers, Colors of the Wind.

H-E-B/Jean Flynn Best Children’s Book ($500)

Nikki Loftin, Nightingale’s Nest; Naomi Shihab Nye, Turtle of Oman; Greg Leitich Smith, Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn.

H-E-B Best Young Adults Book ($500)

Claudia Guadalupe Martinez, Pig Park; Katherine Howe, Conversion

Fred Whitehead Award for Best Design of a Trade Book ($750)

Bill Wittliff, The Devil’s Backbone Illustrated by Jack Unruh; Zeque Penya, GABI, A Girl in Pieces, design by Isabel Quintero

Fans of the TIL might also want to peruse last summer’s Texas Classics series of excerpts from past Lon Tinkle winners. which featured this profile of the legendary editor.