My Interview With the AHA

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A few months ago the American Historical Association (AHA) interviewed me. It was fun because it forced me to pause and think about my past, present, and future endeavors. I noted that, “…I sought to study history and literature in a normative fashion to challenge both my peers and colleagues to take action and avoid the sins of complacency and gradualism….[History] guides my morality; I get to have a job that demands I read, reflect, and ponder the sins and immoral actions of human beings.”

You can read it in its entirety here.

 

Jesus, Race, and Ideology Lecture and Book Review

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I am excited about my talk at the Center for Marxist Education in Cambridge. This talk draws from my research in developing my American Jesus course. The above announcement recently went out; I am hoping to have a great conversation with folks who attend. The last lecture I gave there saw 20 – 25 people who attended. Here is my description of the talk: The Black Christian Communist in America starts with an address by the now defunct Knights of Labor’s Constitution, which opened with a biblical verse from Genesis 3:19, “By the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat bread.” The workers believed Jesus Christ’s teachings promoted a central socialist narrative of love and sacrifice for all people – not one against socialism, the poor, and marginalized, which has long been a construct of American Calvinists, who purported that Christ and his teachings were capitalist. The historical transformation of Christ, as a blond haired blue-eyed capitalist, will be juxtaposed to a darker skinned Christ, who was a socialist and thus marched with the poor, with sinners, and communists. This engaging discussion addresses the relationship of the American church and religion, its members, and the importance of race and socialism in eradicating societal inequalities dating back to the black power movement of the 1960s to ‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬ in the 21st century.

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H-AmRel (History of American Religion) invited me to write a scholarly review for publication of the book “Black Power in the Bluff City: African-American Youth and Student Activism in Memphis, 1965 – 1975.” I am excited about finishing this work and grasping the complex historical narrative of Memphis — as presented by Shirletta J. Kinchen.

Historical Thinking Skills Text

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I am excited to receive our text in the mail today. John and I spent a great deal of time thinking about the historical thinking skills teachers and students will be able to explore in their classes with this work. It does a great job forcing historical content to drive the needed skills. I dedicated it to my parents, brother, and wife — Janette Carson​. I am a lifelong teacher who spends hours thinking about my students ad how I can help them. I am not perfect — but man do I try.

Here are some reviews:

“One of the biggest problems teachers will face in teaching the redesigned AP European History course is finding quality resources to reinforce information and to get students to think and make connections. There are numerous examples in this book and I think it will only enhance student learning. Historical thinking skills can be challenging for students and this breaks it down and makes it much simpler for students to understand so that they will be more successful in both the course and on the AP Exam itself.”

Tina Gentry, History Teacher, Spring High School

“Carson and Irish provide an excellent resource in helping students master the historical thinking skills needed to reach their full potential in AP European History. It provides educators with numerous resources to help implement and build these skills with their students.”

Tara Gruber, AP World History, AP European History, Allen High School

“This new workbook doesn’t just explain the required historical thinking skills necessary for success on the AP European History exam. It shows the student and teacher how to apply those skills effectively throughout the four periods of the course curriculum. Using specific examples and clear graphic organizers, the authors have revolutionized the way study skills can be taught, giving the student a clear idea of how to use each skill and how the skills interrelate with and complement one another.”

Pamela Wolfe, History Department Chair, Yeshiva of Greater Washington, Former member of the European History Development Committee

“A workbook, such as this, would prove incredibly invaluable to those AP students looking to demonstrate, refine and improve their expertise. I am confident in saying this workbook will do an exceptional job at addressing the new AP European History curriculum and what it entails.”

Michael J. Poirier, Social Studies Teacher, Nashoba Regional High School

“An invaluable and practical teaching tool that covers all the important Historical Thinking Skills for AP European History. An enormously valuable guide from two highly regarded veteran AP European History teachers.”

Jay Harmon, AP History Teacher, Houston Christian High School

Teaching the Atlantic Market Thesis

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I have taught this before, and as my students will tell you, it is a staple in my history course. I started the session off by presenting an illustration that conceptualizes the growth of European modernity and the birth of what Arnold Toynbee would call the “Industrial Revolution,” as students looked at the transformation from Lynda Shaffer’s article Southernization to what is called Westernization.

“The Industrial Revolution”is a term coined by Toynbee in the late 1800s and used by Marxist and socialist historians to attack “the captains of industry” and expose “the conditions of the working classes;” after World War II, conservative social scientists like Rostow used Britain as model for industrial “take-off.” Recent scholarship suggests the story is not so simple. See e.g. Peter Sterns.

I worked to draw a conclusion on the relationship between European constitutionalism, mercantilism, geo politics, and the expansion of capitalism. Because of these factors and a number of others, the British middle class promulgated the growth of Atlantic slavery while modeling a new economic paradigm that the French bourgeoisie and nobility would desire. Unlike the traditional Marxist’s interpretation of the revolution that claimed it started as a matter of class conflict between the third estate (peasants & bourgeoisie) and the first and second estates, recent interpretations claim the revolution was a result of the Atlantic market system. Feudal lands and titles no longer carried the wealth that the Atlantic market offered. With an ancient system in existence that prevented the French nobility from prospering in this newly minted Atlantic market, the second and third estate unified to overthrow the French ancient class system. The change in market forces ultimately contributed to the demise of feudalism in Western Europe, though this process was much slower for the East.

Besides the colonial wars fought for geo-political gain in the Atlantic market, the dawn of neo slavery emerged. Paradoxically speaking, this institution heightened during a period in which the literature addressed both natural rights and racial inferiority. I believe the process of understanding European history from 1450 to 1815 rest on students’ understanding of the Atlantic market.

Daniel Williams’s Book, John Fea’s Interview

History Professor and Dept. Chair, John Fea of Messiah College, hosted Daniel Williams on his podcast. Fea, who has worked with my Brooks School students in the past, engaged Williams in a discussion about the history of the pro-life movement. It was fascinating to learn that the pro-life movement started on the left as a progressive action. Williams further addressed this matter as one not aligned with political parties. I learned a great deal from both John and Daniel, and I am impressed with the degree of intellectual history presented as part of the culture war narrative. I was most intrigued by how their discussion and Williams’s book presents a historical narrative of truth telling, which allows 21st century historians the means to make logical arguments. This piece is simply fantastic. Give it a listen here.

Historical Thinking Skills Text

 

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History teachers should be excited about the text John Irish and I are releasing via Norton Publisher; it addresses the historical tasks asked by the history redesign. Teachers are going to like the edited scholarly pieces for the SAQ section, which ask students to think about historical debates and interpretations. It is a great work designed to enhance one’s instruction. Historical Thinking Skills in AP European History, co-authored with John Irish, helps students hone the skills essential for success under the new AP history redesign courses. It includes chapters that utilize graphic organizers, cause and effect, chronological reasoning, compare and contrast, contextualization, continuity and change over time, defining the period, historical argument, and turning points as measures of skill building and refinement

Here are a few reviews of this piece:

“One of the biggest problems teachers will face in teaching the redesigned AP European History course is finding quality resources to reinforce information and to get students to think and make connections. There are numerous examples in this book and I think it will only enhance student learning.  Historical thinking skills can be challenging for students and this breaks it down and makes it much simpler for students to understand so that they will be more successful in both the course and on the AP Exam itself.”

Tina Gentry

History Teacher

Spring High School

“Carson and Irish provide an excellent resource in helping students master the historical thinking skills needed to reach their full potential in AP European History. It provides educators with numerous resources to help implement and build these skills with their students.”

Tara Gruber

AP World History

AP European History

Allen High School

“This new workbook doesn’t just explain the required historical thinking skills necessary for success on the AP European History exam.  It shows the student and teacher how to apply those skills effectively throughout the four periods of the course curriculum. Using specific examples and clear graphic organizers, the authors have revolutionized the way study skills can be taught, giving the student a clear idea of how to use each skill and how the skills interrelate with and complement one another.”

Pamela Wolfe

History Department Chair

Yeshiva of Greater Washington

Former member of the European History Development Committee

 

“A workbook, such as this, would prove incredibly invaluable to those AP students looking to demonstrate, refine and improve their expertise. I am confident in saying this workbook will do an exceptional job at addressing the new AP European History curriculum and what it entails.”

Michael J. Poirier

Social Studies Teacher

Nashoba Regional High School

“An invaluable and practical teaching tool that covers all the important Historical Thinking Skills for AP European History. An enormously valuable guide from two highly regarded veteran AP European History teachers.”

Jay Harmon

AP History Teacher

Houston Christian High School