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Monthly Archive for: ‘March, 2011’

Hacking the dissertation, future tense

A few weeks ago, I officially advanced to candidacy in American history at George Mason University, and I took my first trip as an ABD to the Library of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia, for research in the business records of Tredegar Iron Works.

Over one hundred years of ledgers, accounts, patents, letters, advertisements—the paper evidence of corporate structure and process—are housed in 1,345 boxes, 490 volumes, seven oversize boxes (containing 93 oversize folders and 1,000 drawings), six oversize map case drawers, and one rolled tube.

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With apologies to students of Roberto Rossellini for decontextualizing a complex film

(Written for History 615: History and Cartography (2007))

In 1950, Roberto Rossellini directed The Flowers of St. Francis.  In the movie,  Brother Francis (not yet saint) directs one monk to cook for the other friars. The cook throws the brotherhood’s entire available supply of food into a giant cauldron which appears to be the height and width of a small room, figuring that he’ll make meals enough for them all to last a long time.  Needless to say, the results are apparently hard to digest.

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Whence the corporation in America?

Characterized as anti-republican bastions of privilege and exclusion, advocated by supporters as associations that created economic opportunity and equality, the early business corporation in America “faithfully reflected the society that gave it form,”  according to Pauline Maier.  Ideological conflicts of the American Revolution—decisions about where power would reside, about regulation and control  influenced the political and legal evolution of  corporate structures.

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Is it possible to get as excited about pencils as it is about 2 gigahertz intel dual core mobile processors with 2GB DDR2 multitasking memory capability?

Or, Why Can’t I Just Go to the Dollar Store and Grab a Six-Color Box of Rosearts?

Written for History 615: History and Cartography: freehand map assignment

I miss the September ritual of buying notebooks, pens and pencils for a new school year.  These days I’m organically united with my computer and hyperventilate if no wireless internet is nearby, but putting a new entry into Zotero doesn’t inspire quite the same anticipation as an empty, college-ruled, three-subject spiral and a newly-sharpened number 2 Faber-Castell with my name stamped on it.  Forget that the writing utensils got lost, covers came off the notebooks, and I couldn’t read my own handwriting after the third day.

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