Professor Manning Marable’s Scholarship Lives On in Malcolm X Biography

Source: The Record, Columbia University News, 4-20-11

In 1988, Manning Marable was teaching a course in African American politics at Ohio State University when he noticed numerous inconsistencies in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, the standard text about the black Muslim leader written with Alex Haley.

Manning Marable (Image credit: Philippe Cheng)
Manning Marable

Image credit: Philippe Cheng

Marable, who would join the Columbia faculty five years later, resolved then to begin what he called “a modest political biography” of the charismatic figure, assassinated in 1965 in the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights by rival members of the militant Islamic sect the Nation of Islam.

The 594-page work, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, was released on April 4 and immediately acclaimed as the definitive biography of a misunderstood man who, since his death at age 39, has become a legend. Marable died just days before its publication. He suffered from sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease, and had undergone a double lung transplant last summer.

Marable, the M. Moran Weston/Black Alumni Council Professor of African American Studies and professor of history, political science, and international and public affairs, was the “epitome of scholarly devotion and capable of such balanced, insightful judgment,” said Provost Claude M. Steele. “We are all deeply saddened by this loss and the knowledge that he will not be here to enjoy the acclaim his most recent work will surely bring.”

The tragic timing of his death, at age 60, produced an outpouring of tributes. Eric Foner, who led the search committee that brought Marable to Columbia in 1993 to establish the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS), called Marable “the model of a public intellectual.”

“His scholarship had an amazing range—from broad overviews of African American history to incisive analyses of key individuals like [W.E.B.] Du Bois and, now, Malcolm X,” said Foner, the Dewitt Clinton Professor of History. “He made the institute a place where people of every outlook and every race and ethnicity felt entirely comfortable. There was no party line—just a shared commitment to studying the black experience and relating that history to the world we live in.”…READ MORE

Deborah Stearns: For Maryland professor of the year, human sexuality courses engage beyond books


History Buzz

( JUANA ARIAS / FOR THE WASHINGTON POST ) – Psychology professor Deborah Stearns leads her Montgomery College students on a field trip to the American Museum of Natural History. A community college education, Stearns believes, “should be the same as the first two years of college anywhere.”

Source: WaPo, 4-21-11

Students walked into Deborah Stearns’s classroom at Montgomery College one recent day to find the query WHAT IS LOVE? scrawled on the board and, beside it, a projected YouTube video of the ’90s hit club song of the same name.

They were in for an engaging afternoon. Stearns, 43, earned the honor Maryland Professor of the Year in November for a distinctive brand of teaching, alternately rigorous, inspirational and playful. And this was her signature course: human sexuality.

“We think, happiness, love,” she said, addressing a class of 16 community college students ranging in age from younger than 20 to older than 60. “But love is not always happiness. You could argue that love is really an addiction. That’s really cynical, isn’t it? . . . Shakespeare would not have written about this.”

Some people imagine community college as the fifth year of high school or as a colorless compendium of career training. But Stearns’s courses sound more like the offerings of a liberal arts school. Her success provides a reminder of the breadth of the community college mission, which encompasses everything from automotive technology and landscaping to philosophy and women’s studies.

“To me, this is just the first two years of college,” Stearns, a psychology professor, said. “It should be the same as the first two years of college anywhere.”

Stearns taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College, the University of Chicago, and Georgetown and George Washington universities before joining Montgomery College, the largest community college in Maryland, in 2002.

She says she expects the same from her current students as from her past charges, and she teaches at the same rigorous pace. She jokes that the only measurable difference is price: Montgomery College charges $171 a credit — a small fraction of the tuition at her former workplaces.

“I still have the students I would get at University of Chicago or Georgetown, it’s just that they’re mixed in with a whole lot of other students,” she said.

Stearns grew up in a professor’s home: Her father, Peter Stearns, is provost of George Mason University and a widely published social historian. He was at the University of Chicago when she was born; the family moved to Rutgers, then to Carnegie Mellon. She recalls growing up “in my dad’s office.”

In undergraduate and graduate study at Penn, the younger Stearns cultivated an interest in social psychology, a field somewhat akin to her father’s; they co-wrote a 1994 paper on the history of emotion….READ MORE

William Cronon: UW-Madison professor investigated for questionable emails

Source: Fourth Estate Newspaper, 4-20-11

email Photo by Tina Blahnik/Fourth Estate

Bill Cronon, professor of history, geography and environmental studies at UW-Madison, sent emails about the budget plan and received a request from the state for copies of them.

Bill Cronon, professor of history, geography and environmental studies at UW-Madison, recently received a public records request for emails sent over his school computer by a leading Grand Old Party official in Wisconsin.

Cronon said the request, made March 17, came less than two days after he had written his first blog, titled “Scholar as Citizen.”  The blog criticized the right-wing organization known as the American Legislative Exchange Council along with Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill.   Cronon’s blog had immediate success in the few days it was created, a fact Cronon said likely brought the Wisconsin GOP to such quick action.

“Within two days, my blog received more than half a million hits, had been read by tens of thousands of people, had been linked by newspapers all over the U.S. and been visited by people from more than two dozen foreign countries,”  Cronon said.

According to a letter sent by GOP official Stephan Thompson to UW-Madison, the request asked for emails containing specific political keywords and phrases from as early as Jan. 1.  Some of the terms included were Scott Walker, union, Republican and the names of several Republican politicians.

UW-Green Bay Assistant to the Chancellor Daniel Spielmann said the request was made under Wisconsin’s open records law, a long-standing piece of legislation designed to provide government transparency to the public….READ MORE

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