Friday, May 31, 2019

CHA Reads at Unwritten Histories

Gotta say I'm just knocked out with admiration of Andrea Eidinger's Unwritten Histories blog for creating this week's package "CHA Reads." In "CHA Reads," each book nominated this year for the Canadian Historical Association prize for the best book in Canadian history gets a long, thoughtful advocacy from a fellow scholar. (That is, it's nothing like Canada Reads!) The last one in the series -- all posted over two days! -- is here and all the others follow immediately below on the blog.

Is this not the kind of thing for which blogging was invented? Most of these books will not be reviewed in scholarly journals for another year or so (Because why?), and most of them will get no non-academic attention at all, even here.  (Okay, I did read and note Give and Take a while back.)

Surely Canadian historical scholarship needs this kind of lively, up-to-the-moment, not-so-formal discussion and debate on an ongoing basis. And where else but in the blogosphere?  Another CHA seminar where the audience is about ten people and each speaker gets five minutes ain't going to do the job.

Yet Eidinger seems to be almost alone in trying to make this kind of scholarly blogging happen.  Okay, blogging has been eclipsed by podcasting and all the trendy social media, for sure.  But the internet was made for micro-targeting, intense detail for a motivated dispersed audience.

Sometimes I do wonder what all you profs do that is more important.

Just by comparison, I've seen a flood of online American commentary (example here) provoked by the sudden and early death of the American writer Tony Horwitz, whose book Confederates in the Attic gets praise from scholars and non-scholars alike for its deep dive into the meaning of the American past based on, of all things, an exploration of the world of Confederate military re-enactors..  Not gonna get that kind of thing from the CBC.

Update, June 3:  Andrea responds:
Thank you for your kind words about Unwritten Histories in your latest blog post! Seriously, they absolutely made my day.
I'm embarrassed to admit I had not realized this was the third year of CHA Reads at Unwritten Histories.

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