Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON
LECTURE ONE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d__In2PQS60
LECTURE TWO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al7O2puvdDA

ALSO AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ONE THROUGH TEN ON IDEOLOGICAL CRITIQUE



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Thursday, July 2, 2015

A QUESTION FOR MY READERS


As readers of this blog will know, I spent the last sixteen years of my half-century-long teaching career  as a Professor in the W . E. B. DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where I had the pleasure and the very great honor of serving for twelve years as the Graduate Program Director of that department's ground-breaking doctoral program.  I told the story of that experience in my 2005 book Autobiography of an Ex-White Man [the title is a play on that of a famous novel by James Weldon Johnson.]  The first chapter recounts my experiences in my new department, but in the second and third chapters, I undertake to describe in detail how my understanding of the story of America was transformed by those experiences.  The second chapter is devoted entirely to an examination of three of the most successful and widely used American History college textbooks, written by the most distinguished members of the History profession.  By tracing the revisions, edition by edition, in the treatment of slavery, I demonstrated that the original distorted and celebratory account of the Peculiar Institution remained as the central flaw in those texts -- and in America's understanding of itself -- despite the efforts by the authors to soften or revise their original misunderstandings of America.  Since those misunderstandings persist to the present day, I think it might be worth reproducing the chapter here as a series of posts.  [The book, I might say, sold almost no copies and attracted virtually no readers, so this would be, for me, an exercise in resurrection, as it were.]

The chapter is 12,600 words long, and would probably take at least four days to post.  Is there any interest in this?  Indeed, is there any stomach for it?  Or would I simply be driving folks away until I returned to more popular topics.

6 comments:

Jerry Fresia said...

For what it is worth, I would be very interested. On my list to read soon is Edward Baptist's The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. So I think your work would fit in nicely. Besides my 2 cents, this is clearly important work and the story of slavery, I think, needs to be told well and completely.

wallyverr said...

I read part of the Autobiography book, back when you first archived it on the web, and found it very interesting. I think your memoir is more timely than ever, as the Obama presidency reaches its final stretch. C Wright Mills used to argue for a combination of the biographical and the sociological, and you would be in a good position to do this. Three possible extensions:

1) in the past, you've mentioned an interest in Berger & Luckmann's book on social construction of reality. How would you tie this in with the otherwise trivial Rachel Dolezal affair?

2) the work of Charles Mills on the philosophy of race, which you've praised in the past, but with which I am unfamiliar.

3) the recent popularity of work on the "history of (American) capitalism", done by scholars such as Ed Baptist and Sven Beckert. This tends to put more emphasis on cotton and slavery than do conventional economic historians. You may not be surprised that as a fairly conventional economist I don't find this new fashion particularly convincing, but it is unquestionably influential and worth discussing. (As I load this up, I see that Jerry Fresia has also referred to this).

jeremie jenkins said...
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Ridiculousicculus said...

A personal anecdote: when I attended a California high school 12 years ago, our school implemented the Advanced Placement, or "AP", history curriculum. The AP program allows high school students to take classes that are supposed to be the equivalent of lower division college courses, for which the high school students earn college credit if they pass a centrally-administered standardized "AP" examination at the end of the school year.

The adoption of the AP program had the effect of restructuring what used to be the called the "Honors Program" in the history and english departments at my high school. Before AP, Honors History was a year-long parallel study of The American Pageant side-by-side with Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. Honors History also included major Junior-year writing project that was supervised by both the Honors History teacher and the Honors English teacher. My older brothers said it was the most rewarding academic experience they had in high school.

With the implementation of the AP program, the Honors History and English programs were converted into AP History and AP English. The AP US History Exams are based on the major history textbooks, such as The American Pageant, and you don't pass the exams writing on Zinn. So by the time I got to take AP History, our class had devolved to reading The American Pageant and taking practice AP examinations so our students could skip lower-division history classes in college. Hurray for progress.

Michael said...

I for one would be quite interested in reading the chapters from your book (which I've been meaning to read for a while anyway).

mesnenor said...

If it's so long that it needs to stretch across several blog posts, why not just upload it to your archive on box.net and post a pointer to it? People could post comments on the post with the link.