Friday, August 15, 2008

Mystery in New Brunswick

A well-substantiated rumour has traveled far and wide to reach your interlocutor of all things great and small. It seems that Rutgers, New Brunswick is in a period of transition. After the departures of David Oshinsky (to Texas), Alice Kessler-Harris (to Columbia), and David Levering Lewis (to NYU) a few years ago, they are now facing the impending retirement of civil rights historian Steven Lawson. To lose four major twentieth century historians is trouble, though Rutgers has a deep bench with African American historian Deborah Gray White, urban historian Alison Isenberg, and especially women's and labor historian and all-around mentor Nancy Hewitt taking up the slack.

Rutgers brought in a star-studded cast of mid-career rising stars to try out for their still-unfilled twentieth-century generalist position. Any of them would have been impressive hires. Two one book wonders (with second books on the way) are still in the running, with offers (still being negotiated) in hand. One is MIT's Meg Jacobs, a historian of consumerism and high politics in the mid-twentieth century, and the other is UNC Charlotte's Heather Thompson, a historian of race and urban politics. Things are complicated--and the mystery of whether one or two or none will go to New Brunswick remains to be seen.

1 comment:

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