Top Young Historians: 61- Edward P. Kohn


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

61: Edward P. Kohn, 7-23-07

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Assistant Professor Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey (2003-), Acting Chair (January-July 2007), Department of American Culture and Literature.
Area of Research: Twentieth century U.S. history and history of U.S. foreign relations, diplomatoc history.
Education: Ph.D. in History, McGill University, Montréal, Canada, May 2000.
Major Publications: Kohn is the author of This Kindred People: Canadian-American Relations and the Anglo-Saxon Idea, 1895-1903 (McGill-Queen’s University Press, December 2004), Edward P. Kohn JPG He currently working on a new book manuscript tentively entitled A Hot Time in the Old Town: Theodore Roosevelt, William Jennings Bryan, and New York’s Killer Heat Wave of 1896.
Kohn is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles including: “A Necessary Defeat: Theodore Roosevelt and the New York Mayoral Election of 1886,” New York History, Spring 2006; “Crossing the Rubicon: Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and the 1884 Republican National Convention,” Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, 5, 1, January 2006; and “‘The Member from Michigan’: The Political Isolation and Unofficial Diplomacy of John Charlton, 1892-1903,” Canadian Historical Review, June 2001.
Awards: Kohn is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Fulbright Scholarship February-November 1991: Renowned international scholarship for study abroad. Completed Master’s degree in New Zealand.
Robert Vogel Award Received: April 2002: Proud to be first recipient of annual award from History Students’ Association recognizing “excellence in teaching.”
Additional Info:
Formerly Assistant Professor, Department of History, McGill University, 2000-03.
Kohn has written for the popular media including Canada’s Globe and Mail; He has appeared on NTV/CNBC-e for a live, one-on-one studio interview on American presidential election and Turkish-American relations (3 November 2004); On CNN Turk as a member of panel at Turkish-American Association’s “Election Watch 2004,” discussing U.S. presidential elections and the candidates’ campaign strategies (2 November 2004), and gave various Television/Radio interviews to Montreal media commenting on start of war in Iraq (March 2003).

Personal Anecdote

I still do not think I have become used to the very flexible concept of “time” in academics. Perhaps because historians regularly deal with decades and centuries, this seems even more pronounced in our craft. My dissertation advisor had an almost Zen-like attitude toward deadlines, viewing them as artificial restraints on the thinking process. “You also need time for reflection,” he told me early on, probably not knowing that my “reflection” took the form of video games, movies, and Simpsons re-runs. As it turned out, though, my seven years of dissertation work was speedy compared to others. Getting my dissertation published as a book took another four years, as the publisher was forced to wait on funding decisions. One result is that I am still reading new reviews of my book, based on words I wrote nearly ten years ago. This reflects the long delay also in getting articles or book reviews published in journals. Recently I wrote a fairly stern letter to the editors of a journal I had submitted an article to, pointing out that I had not heard anything from them in nearly a year. I received an apologetic reply informing me that the both the editor and assistant editor had recently died!

The result is that most of us in this profession have several works in “the pipeline” at once: a new project, a work under consideration at a journal, another work undergoing final revisions, and something just about to appear. I am not sure how many other occupations force an individual to plan their projects over several years – perhaps civil engineers building a dam. I try to make sure my graduate students understand that, with the common piece of advice that our occupation is a marathon, not a sprint. With undergraduates, time management is a constant juggling act, and poses pedagogical problems to the instructor. On the one hand, in a class of two hundred you can not really have students handing in papers when they feel like it, and a fair deadline is a necessary leveler. On the other hand, I am keenly aware at all times that my class is not the center of their 18- to 22-year-old universe. I am in competition for students’ time and attention with several other professors, extracurricular activities, and their busy social lives. Thus, when asked for more time by a student (and I am much more sympathetic to “I ran out of time,” than “A distant relative I have not seen in 15 years died”), I try to be flexible to a point.

And managing my own time is one reason I entered academics. If I wanted to work nine-to-five, I would have worked in a bank. Time away from the desk, or out of the office, is a necessary part of any creative or intellectual process. My advisor was essentially correct: an historian needs time to reflect, mull, cogitate – to leave all the facts at the back of one’s mind and wait for inspiration. During my Ph.D. work I came up with more ideas walking my dog than sitting at my desk. As Emerson said…. But I guess I will finish this later – the Simpsons is on.


By Edward P. Kohn

  • America’s rise to world power
    This Kindred People JPGstatus and the Anglo-American rapprochement…forced Americans and Canadians to adapt to the new international reality. Emphasizing their shared language, civilization, and forms of government, many English-speaking North Americans drew upon Anglo-Saxonism to find common ground. Americans and Canadians often referred to each other as members of the same “family” who shared the same “blood.” As many of the events leading to the rapprochement had a North American context, Americans and Canadians often drew upon the common lexicon of Anglo-Saxon rhetoric to undermine the old rivalries and underscore their shared interests. — Edward P. Kohn in “This Kindred People: Canadian-American Relations and the Anglo-Saxon Idea, 1895-1903”

About Edward P. Kohn

  • This Kindred People is an excellent study of Canadian-American relations. It discusses in great detail the Canadian perspective of developments of the North American continent. One of its great strengths is in showing the growth in Canadian national maturity as feelings of patriotism, self-interest and nationalism emerged. Furthermore, Kohn’s book teaches a great deal, not only of Canadian-British relations, but also Anglo-American relations. The transformation of perception on the British Empire among American public– this significant shift from “anglophobia” to “kindred relations” that took place in a relatively short period in the U.S. seems to be neglected in the scholarly literature.” — Justyna Bartkiewicz, Polish Academy of Sciences reviewing “This Kindred People: Canadian-American Relations and the Anglo-Saxon Idea, 1895-1903”
  • “What does this book offer that such authors as Carl Berger, Charles S. Campbell, and C. P. Stacey did not? First, it offers a twenty-first-century impression of the era and an up-to-date bibliography. Second, it rightly emphasizes the perception of kinship among Britons, Americans, and Canadians. Many Canadians came to regard the United States not simply as another country (like Germany) that promoted its perceived interests…. Kohn agrees that any infatuation with family was finite, especially in the United States and United Kingdom. The administrations of Cleveland, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt welcomed any Canadian or British support, but they did not offer diplomatic trade-offs…. Kohn accepts these points but suggests that the perceived family connection rendered improved Anglo-American relations more salable to the British electorate, with repercussions for Canada. — Graeme S. Mount, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Canada, reviewing in “The Journal of American History” “This Kindred People: Canadian-American Relations and the Anglo-Saxon Idea, 1895-1903”
  • “Much in Kohn’s discussion is valuable. His examination of the Anglo-Saxon idea amplifies understanding of an important dimension of the rapprochement: no previous consideration of these events has explored that dimension so extensively. It also does much to explain how essentially interest-driven actions could be made to seem matters of the highest morality and rectitude. The richness and variety of the material adduced is a particular strength: readers will find in these pages an especially textured demonstration of the manner in which notions of cultural and racial community were assembled and put to work in a highly politicized setting…. This interesting book is informative in terms of its main themes and provides a useful reminder of the measure in which relations among states and nations count… Readers will learn much. — Allan Smith, University of British Columbia reviewing in “The American Histprical Review” “This Kindred People: Canadian-American Relations and the Anglo-Saxon Idea, 1895-1903”
  • “In This Kindred People, Edward P. Kohn admirably summarizes the Anglo-American rapprochement that took place between the Venezuela Crisis of 1895 and the settlement of the Alaska Boundary in 1903, and discusses the complicating and complicated role that Canada played in that evolving relationship. This is territory well trodden by diplomatic historians, but Kohn adds a new dimension to an old account by exploring ‘a nexus of intellectual and diplomatic history.’… Kohn deserves praise, however, for his effective use of eight political cartoons. All come from Canadian newspapers – then as now, ‘Canadian-American relations’ loomed larger in Canada than America. Kohn uses the cartoons as evidence, rather than simply as decorations…. Kohn persuades that Anglo-Saxonism underpinned both us and British imperialism, international ventures in which Canada and Canadians participated more than vicariously before, and long after, 1903.” — John Herd Thompson, Department of History, Duke University, reviewing in “University of Toronto Quarterly” “This Kindred People: Canadian-American Relations and the Anglo-Saxon Idea, 1895-1903”
  • “Great lectures, interesting readings, I love how excited he gets about history.”… “Encourages his students to stop by and chat about The Simpsons…love him!”… “The best prof at McGill, bar-none. Entertainment as well as information.”… “He’s a rising star in the History dep’t.”… “One of the best teachers in a very strong department”… “An EXCELLENT professor; his lectures are entertaining and informative.”… “An incredible lecturer. He knows his stuff and is really enthusiastic about the material.”… “Best prof at McGill… his lectures were amazing, he kept me interested the entire time.” — Anonymous Students
  • “I can’t BELIEVE McGill let Prof. Kohn go. The best teacher or prof I have ever had in my life. Unending enthusiasm, humor, and knowledge! I wasn’t bored for a single second the entire semester – not even one! What is my degree worth wo/ profs like him”…. “Professor Kohn was simply the best professor at McGill University. His enthusiasm for history was breathtaking. McGill made one of its worst mistakes by letting him go.”… “Kohn is one of the best teachers at McGill. Unfortunately…students somewhere else will have the pleasure of being taught by this enthusiastic and effective professor.”… “Professor Kohn rocks! He dominates all professors. And McGill can hardly claim to be a top rated university without him.” — Anonymous Students

Posted on Sunday, July 22, 2007 at 6:23 PM

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