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Category Archive for: ‘research’

Reading the Cemetery

[a side trip on the way to the dissertation]

Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia epitomizes the cemetery as narrative.

An outgrowth of the garden cemetery movement of the mid-nineteenth century, its shaded pathways overlooking the tumult of the James River wind among ancient trees and over slopes of well-tended lawns and flowering bushes. They frame gravesites of familiar people, a cross-section of national and local politicians and poets, founding fathers, businessmen and soldiers–Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, Jefferson Davis, J.E.B. Stuart, Fitzhugh Lee, John Randolph, Edgar Allen Poe and generations of entrepreneurs and early industrialists who built Richmond’s cultural and economic base–the Valentines, Haxalls, Myers, Harvies, Mayos, Triggs, Branches, Glasgows, and Bruces.

And the graves of Confederate soldiers, officers and enlisted, fill hillsides.

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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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Who reads history?

Written for History 697: History and New Media

In recent interviews, CBS news anchor, Katie Couric, asked presidential candidates ten tough questions, including, “Which book, besides the Bible, would you consider essential to have at the White House?

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