I\’m Too Sexy for My Master\’s Thesis

manuscripts behind the scenes webcast

Posted in history,scholarship by Rae on 23 August 2006

Check out this Manuscripts Behind the Scenes webcast from the Library of Congress. If features Marvin Kranz, a historical specialist in the LoC Manuscript Division, who gives a personal tour of the manuscript stacks, highlighting some of their most remarkable holdings and offering his expert views on what makes these documents powerful windows into the American past. Sweet! (via The Ten Thousand Year Blog)


Katrina’s Jewish Voices

Posted in history by Rae on 23 August 2006

Katrina’s Jewish Voices:

The project is creating a virtual archive of stories, images, and reflections about the New Orleans and Gulf Coast Jewish communities before and after Hurricane Katrina.

I spent a few hours last night watching part of Spike Lee’s Katrina documentary last night. It offered a single-faceted view of a very complex situation.

(link via ClioWeb)

super sexy wednesday 13

Posted in history,scholarship by Rae on 2 August 2006

For those interested in the Jewish calendar, Tisha B’Av begins tonight. It is the saddest day of the Jewish year. Read here to find out why.

Whoa! UC May Join Google’s Library Project! (via Open Access News)


The July/August issue of D-Lib Magazine has lots of goodies, including an article on WikiD.


Check out the August/September issue of Innovate:

The August/September 2006 issue of Innovate provides assessments of
emerging technologies for educational practice, studies of recent efforts
at technology integration, and a commentary that promises to provoke
engaging discussion about the role of technology in education.


Version 63 of the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography is up.


Program‘s (a journal on electronic library and information systems) lastest issue focuses on institutional repositories.


At Inside Higher Ed, Scott McLemee reports on “The Power of Postpositive Thinking.” As someone with a BA in Jewish Studies, I’m glad to find out about the Future of Minority Studies Research Project.


History Carnival XXXVI is ready and waiting for your perusal at Clews.


The 350th anniversary of the excommunication of the philosopher Baruch Spinoza was last week. (via Failed Messiah)


Germany signs Nazi files accord:

Germany has signed an agreement to open for research purposes vast Nazi archives containing millions of files on Holocaust victims.



Ezra Fleischer, Expert on Hebrew Poetry, Is Dead at 78:

Professor Fleischer was among the major scholars who studied and cataloged the Cairo Geniza, a treasury of documents, some of which dated to the first century A.D., discovered by Western scholars in a synagogue in Old Cairo the late 1800’s. A geniza is a repository for worn-out texts traditionally kept in a synagogue because, under Jewish law, paper with sacred writing on it cannot be simply discarded; in this case the texts spanned 1,900 years.

Anthony Cave Brown, 77, Historian of Espionage, Is Dead.

Frederick G. Kilgour, Innovative Librarian, Dies at 92:

Leaving government service, Mr. Kilgour joined Yale University, eventually becoming its associate librarian for research and development. In 1955, as the librarian of the Yale School of Medicine, he helped the university acquire one of the world’s most famous medical manuscripts, The Codex Paneth, an illuminated medical encyclopedia from the early 14th century.

In 1967, he was hired by the Ohio College Association to develop O.C.L.C., which pooled the catalogs of 54 academic libraries in the state. Introduced in 1971, O.C.L.C. was expanded to libraries outside Ohio in 1977. Mr. Kilgour was O.C.L.C.’s president and executive director from 1967 to 1980.

Alexander Safran, 95, Former Chief Rabbi, Is Dead:

Alexander Safran, the former chief rabbi of Romania who tried to prevent the deportation of Jews by his country’s pro-Nazi regime during World War II, died on Thursday at his home here [Geneva]. He was 95.

About half of the 800,000 Jews who lived in Romania before World War II were killed during the war. But the fact that many were saved was widely attributed to Rabbi Safran’s efforts.

Kurt Kreuger, 89, Actor in Many War Films, Dies:

Mr. Kreuger played German soldiers and Nazi officers in movies like “Hotel Berlin,” “Paris Underground” and “Sahara,” a 1943 production starring Humphrey Bogart, which was nominated for three Academy Awards. After the war he continued to play German soldiers and other types of movie villains.

Are German soldiers villians? Shouldn’t that specify Nazi soldiers?

Keith R. DeVries, 69, Authority on Ancient City of King Midas, Dies.


My apologies for the below-par content this Wednesday. By way of explanation, feel free to read this post on my other blog.

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 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.”

super sexy wednesday 8

Posted in history,scholarship,tools by Rae on 28 June 2006

Digital History Hacks has a fabulous roundup of Digital History Blogs. While I’m Too Sexy might not technically be a digital history blog, my posts certainly display a strong interest in using technology to aid research and writing, not to mention my interest in new publishing models. Hmph. And Wah.


Institutional Strategies and Policies for Electronic Theses and Dissertations:

Almost without exception, students produce theses and dissertations in electronic formats, and it would seem that an institutional electronic thesis and dissertation (ETD) program would be the rule and not the exception. In the United States, however, ETD programs have been slow to gain ground; other countries are far ahead in implementing comprehensive strategies for the creation of and access to ETDs. The focus of this bulletin is on the development of institutional policies to address ETDs and the changes needed in academic culture to implement robust ETD programs. The value of ETDs as institutional intellectual assets is also explored.

(via Open Access News)


In Digital Age, Advancing a Flexible Copyright System:

So closely is copyright associated with the phrase “all rights reserved” that some people have difficulty imagining any other system. But an unusual global alliance of artists, scientists and lawyers, meeting here over the weekend, has been working in recent years to forge a “creative commons” that allows artists to decide which rights they want to retain and which they would rather share.

It always amazes me how long it takes the NYTimes to catch on. They might be a good source of new news, but they’re often a bit slow to cover cultural movements. But, better late than never.


Creative Commons Add-in for Microsoft Office:

This add-in enables you to embed a Creative Commons license into a document that you create using the popular applications: Microsoft Office Word, Microsoft Office PowerPoint, or Microsoft Office Excel. With a Creative Commons license, authors can express their intentions regarding how their works may be used by others.

(via the Creative Commons Blog)


Let’s Reverse the Pattern of Secrecy:

On May 2, 2006, Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act (S.2695) requiring every federal agency with an annual extramural research budget of $100 million or more to implement a public access policy that is consistent with and advances the federal purpose of the respective agency. Help make sure that you have access to vital scientific advancements and other discoveries that could protect you and your family! Tell your Senator to co-sponsor S.2695 today!

I completed the form and sent it to friends and family, as well. Even if you decide not to fill out the form, at least click the link above to learn about this important issue.


Read Roy Rosenzweig’s essay, “Can History be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past.” While Sanger isn’t particularly happy with the results of Wikipedia, he is quite excited about his new project, Textop.


The June 2006 issue of D-Lib Magazine is up. In case you don’t know:

D-Lib Magazine is a solely electronic publication with a primary focus on digital library research and development, including but not limited to new technologies, applications, and contextual social and economic issues.


Israel’s Education Ministry still not recognizing Yeshiva University degrees:

YU degrees are accepted by Harvard, Yale and any number of top-notch American universities – and so it is an Israeli ministry alone that refuses to acknowledge them for salary purposes.

(via Failed Messiah)


Snakes, Planes and the Triumph of Ironic Appreciation:

Like many PopMatters readers, I suspect, I tend to keep a sheaf or two of Hellenistic Judaic texts on the nightstand for light bedtime reading. You can only breeze through so much James Joyce before you start to feel like you’re slumming. Imagine my surprise when, in a section of passages presaging the end of the world, I came across the following:

And lo, unto the land of Babel shall come a man, one like unto the Son of man, clothed with rich garment down to the foot, and girt about the ears with a Kangol cap. And he shall be called Samuel, son of Jack, with an “L” in there somewhere, and speaking with a great voice, as of a blasphemous trumpet, he shall banish yon serpents from the sky…

When I read this I thought: Sonofa . . . they’re talking about Snakes on a Plane!

(via PaleoJudaica)


Mary Martin McLaughlin, 87, a Scholar of the Middle Ages, Is Dead:

Mary Martin McLaughlin, an internationally renowned scholar of the Middle Ages who spent the last four decades working almost entirely outside the academy, died on June 8 at her home in Millbrook, N.Y. She was 87.

For the last 40 years, Ms. McLaughlin labored over two books, to be published posthumously, that colleagues describe as her masterworks. One is the first full biography of Héloïse, the lover and later wife of the 12th-century French philosopher Peter Abélard. The other is the first English translation of the complete correspondence of Héloïse and Abélard.

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