I\’m Too Sexy for My Master\’s Thesis

thesis defense

Posted in history,scholarship,thesis by Rae on 28 July 2006

So, my thesis defense yesterday went swimmingly. I was so used to my count-down (two weeks till defense, one day till defense, etc.), that now I’m doing a count-up (one day since defense, so far).

Was I nervous? Not until the morning of, when I couldn’t do anything but think about what would take place at 3pm. Plus, all the phone calls I received from friends and family (to ask if I was nervous and to wish me good luck) left me feeling a bit anxious. But, not so anxious that I wasn’t able to take a nap little more than an hour beforehand. That was nice.

I arrived a little bit early and was happy to discover that the room reserved for my defense was the first room I had had a class in, in grad school (yes, had had, in in). Quite appropriate for what I consider a life cycle event. Within a few minutes, the three committee members were filing in and smiling. I was immediately at ease and chatted about my upcoming move to Europe with a professor I took a seminar with this past spring semester. After a moment, everyone was seated and we began.

It’s hard to believe that all that hard and steady work culminated in a few minutes of discussion. It was a bit anti-climactic, in a way. There were no major criticisms, just suggestions on ways I could strength things here and there, plus ideas for future avenues of research. All three committee members were fascinated by my topic and stated every few minutes how well-written and well-researched the paper was. They said that they weren’t able to put it down once they started reading — not bad since it’s 85 pages.

At the end of our discussion (which lasted under 30 minutes, I believe, though I was told to plan for an hour), I left the room for their brief deliberations. Upon my re-entrance, I was greeted with congratulations and handshakes. Even after the handshakes my committee was recommending additional research ideas and places to pursue research.

I still have some paperwork to complete and fees to pay, plus I intend to make a few changes before submitting the final copy of my thesis, but I had that sense of completion as I walked back to my car. I couldn’t stop smiling for an hour, and I can’t remember the last time I felt that way.

So, what’s the first thing I did after my defense? I returned all those library books! And then I went home and had a beer.


super sexy wednesday 12

Posted in history,scholarship,tools by Rae on 27 July 2006

My internet connection was out for most of the day, plus my thesis defense was this afternoon. More on that tomorrow!


David Margolick reviews Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz by Jan T. Gross.


DigitalKoans takes a look at ALA and Open Access.


New Model for Scholarly Publishing is mostly about Rice University’s new plan for its defunct press:

Rice University on Thursday announced a plan to shake up those interconnected problems. Rice University Press, which was killed in 1996, will be revived. But unlike every other university press, it will publish all of its books online only. People will be able to read the books for no charge and to download them for a modest fee. Editors will solicit manuscripts and peer review panels will vet submissions — all in ways that are similar to the systems in traditional publishing.

This was supposed to be included in Super Sexy Wednesday 11. Fortunately, it’s still worth reading (if not a must-read).


I’m constantly reading PDFs. Whether my school has sent me an electronic copy of an article I requested, or I need to read over an old Jewish Chronicle page, or I want to take a look at an ETD, I had to use Adobe Acrobat Reader. Or so I thought.
When Father Inch mentioned Foxit PDF Reader to me a few weeks back, I thought, “Okay, I can give it a try.” Little did I know that my life would be forever changed. Adobe Acrobat is slow to open, it’s slow to load PDFs, and then it’s slow to scroll through them. Foxit is none of the above. It’s fast and gorgeous, and it’s now my default PDF reader. I highly recommend it (as does Father Inch).


Lifehacker (probably the most helpful blog out there) recently posted a link to how to make a flash drive icon. This is such a perfect time waster that I’m sad I didn’t know about it while I was still working on my thesis. But, it’s wasting my time almost as well right now, so I can’t really complain! I’m also working on a favicon for my other site (since this is a WordPress-hosted blog, I don’t think I can change the favicon here). I’ll share the results later.


H. Freeman Matthews Jr., a Foreign Service officer who helped lay the groundwork for the 1978 Camp David Peace Accords, which brought an end to three decades of conflict between Israel and Egypt, died Saturday in Washington. He was 78.

the thesis is out of my hands

Posted in history,progress,scholarship,thesis by Rae on 21 July 2006

And what a relief that is! I can’t express how good it felt to stuff those 85-page stacks o’ paper into each committee member’s box. It’s not that I got sick of my topic (I didn’t), it’s that I’m ready to move on to the next thing – which happens to be moving to Europe in three weeks. I’m not completely done, as the defense remains, but I’m looking forward to that. I know my thesis isn’t perfect, but I also happen to know a lot more about my topic than my committee. So, I’m looking forward to answering their questions.

My advisor told me that each professor has 20 minutes to ask me any questions they want to, and that’s it. No presentation, no pretty handouts, just me and my research. I think I can handle that just fine.

super sexy wednesday 11

Posted in history,scholarship by Rae on 19 July 2006

Okay, so this is a history blog, but sometimes non-history stuff is too juicy not to mention. So…

The craziest-statement-of-the-day award goes to Georgia’s Republican Representative, Phil Gingrey, quoted in a New York Times article as saying: [S]upport for traditional marriage ‘is perhaps the best message we can give to the Middle East and all the trouble they’re having over there right now.'”

I suggest you read it twice for the full impact.

Alumnus creates fund for American Jewish studies at Princeton:

A history major as an undergraduate — as were his children, Gail Lapidus Dubosh ’84, Janet Lapidus Nova ’88 and Roy Lapidus ’93 — Lapidus is president of the American Jewish Historical Society, a member of the advisory council of Princeton’s Department of History, and he sits with the Judaic Studies advisory council. He is also a book collector, with a particular interest in books and pamphlets relating to the American Revolution, the slave trade and Judaica. His gifts to Princeton have included rare books pertaining to American Jews in the 18th and 19th centuries and endowment of the Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professorship in the American Revolutionary Era.

(via Rare Book News)


Check out History Carnival XXXV at air pollution. And Frog in a Well has the Carnival of Bad History #6 (which I think must be way more fun to put together).


TEDTalks usually have a steep pricetag if you want to attend in person, but now you can download for free. I’ve just downloaded the talk of Sir Ken Robinson, the author of Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative. There are other neat ones, too.


Scott McLemee on Public Access:

For someone whose best waking hours are devoted to the printed page, it can be difficult to think of digital media as anything but a distraction, at best — if not, in fact, a violation of the proper use of the eyeballs and brain. People who have made careers in print and ink often have a vested interest in thinking this way. The very word “blog” seems to elicit an almost Pavlovian reaction in editors, writers, and academics over a certain age –- not drooling in hunger, but snarling in self-defense.


The New Yorker surprised me with an intriguing essay on Disraeli. Did you know he liked to dress in full pirate regalia, complete with pistols and daggers? (via Nextbook)



In coordination with the state PIRGs’ affordable textbook campaign, this project aims to produce a free CD showcasing some of the best free textbooks that are currently available. The idea is to use the CD as a publicity tool to reach college professors who wouldn’t have otherwise thought of the possibility of adopting a free textbook, in much the same way that software CDs such as TheOpenCD have served to evangelize for open-source computer software.

(via Open Access News)


France remembers Alfred Dreyfus.


Louis Jacobs Is Dead at 85; British Rabbi and Scholar:

The Jewish Chronicle, a London-based weekly, often called Rabbi Jacobs “the greatest chief rabbi we never had.” In a survey conducted by the paper last year, readers selected Rabbi Jacobs as the “greatest British Jew of all time,” beating out all the chief rabbis as well as two formidable 19th-century figures, Benjamin Disraeli and Moses Montefiore.


Jaap Penraat Dies at 88; Saved Hundreds in Holocaust:

Mr. Penraat and his friends devised a plan to disguise Jews as construction workers for the wall that Hitler was building along France’s Atlantic Coast. He forged travel documents, using a real construction company’s letterhead.

He took the Jews to Lille, France, where he presented them to the French underground for transport to neutral Spain. He made about 20 trips, accompanying about 20 Jews each time.


Anatole Shub, 78, a Researcher and Reporter on Russian Topics, Dies:

In 1964, The Washington Post hired him to open a bureau in Bonn to cover Germany and Eastern Europe. Mr. Shub was next assigned to The Posts Moscow bureau, where his aggressive reporting on dissidents, the political role of the army and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, among other topics, caused him to be expelled in 1969. That year he published a well-reviewed book, “The New Russian Tragedy,” based on his 10-part series on the Soviet Union in The Post.


Vern Leroy Bullough, 77, Noted Medical Historian, Dies:

In the middle of his historical accounts, Dr. Bullough endeared himself to his audience by earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing from California State University in 1981. At the top of his résumé, he listed a nursing license number and his R.N. credential, although he never practiced.

Jack the Ripper identified

Posted in history by Rae on 17 July 2006

Jack the Ripper identified as a Jew. Contrary to this article, this isn’t a new theory or discovery. This was also a hot topic during the 1880s, as I’ve seen from the Jewish Chronicle’s coverage of this story. Yes, I know my thesis is not on Jack the Ripper or even that time-period, but sometimes I can’t help but look a little bit closer at non-relevant, interesting topics. I came across this 1910 column from the Jewish Chronicle regarding Jack the Ripper the other day:

Before the Ripper crimes took place there came into my hands a book which had been sent to me by the author, whom I had known since he was a little child. The book, if I remember aright, was printed by a provincial printer and was issued anonymously. The young man, whose first effort it was, had always been a strange, weird, dreamy sort of an individual. I confess that when I received it I merely glanced through its pages and wrote the writer something complimentary. I recollect that the story the book told appeared to me then to be mere extravagancies of a highly imaginative character, and seemed to have resulted from the author having dived deeper into the “Gehenna” of modern Babylon than was good for one of his years, especially as the “Gehenna” district he chose to explore was the most sordid and filthy it was possible to find. I put the book aside and though no more of it till the Ripper crimes were setting the town in panic. Then I recollected that its author had prophesied that such crimes would take place and gave details of happenings, in local, in method and in manner, which convinced me could not be accounted to the long arm of coincidence when they actually took place.

The whole column (and, in fact, the whole site) is worth a read, especially the second half of Mentor’s column. The period of the 1880s until after WWI was a very tense time for Jewish/non-Jewish relations in Britain, especially regarding immigrant Jews, of which Kosminski was one. I do not doubt that the police’s treatment of this suspect was a reflection of that. Anyway, my point is that this isn’t really news, but it is interesting.

(via Failed Messiah)

no super sexy wednesday 10, either

Posted in progress,thesis by Rae on 13 July 2006

My thesis defense is in two weeks and I finished my last chapter yesterday. I honestly didn’t even realize yesterday was Wednesday, or I might have posted something. I’ve been living in 1917 since last week (and 1914-1916 before that), so it’s no wonder I’m out of sorts.

Anyway, I’m now working on chapter revisions and need to write the intro and conclusion. Then, I’m done! At that point, I’ll have more time to blog about my thesis.

My husband won a mini-vacation to Montana, so we’re headed out at 6:30 tomorrow morning. Worst possible timing, but I’m looking forward to a clean environment that doesn’t reek of stress.

no super sexy wednesday 9

Posted in history,scholarship by Rae on 5 July 2006

No time for super sexy Wednesday this week, but here’s something to hold you over:

Nahum Sokolow shared the following anecdote with Vladimir Jabotinsky. The event described took place not much more than a decade before World War I and is recorded in Jabotinsky’s book, The Story of the Jewish Legion:

In 1901, after the Fourth Congress in London, he [Sokolow] went for a rest to a health resort in Switzerland. There he became acquainted with a Scotch lord and in the course of their conversation mentioned to him that he had been at the Zionist Congress.

“Oh, yes,” said milord. “Zionism, very interesting. If I am not mistaken, my brother also belongs to this movement or, at any rate, to something very close to it.”

Sokolow was astounded. The nobleman was a devout Catholic; seemingly, his brother also. What did this mean? He began tactfully to ask questions, and soon it became clear that milord’s brother was—a vegetarian. Zionism, vegetarianism—for outsiders in the year 1901, it was “the same” movement, or “something very close to it.”