Editor’s Corner

Note to Readers

Tom Durwood with cadets

Tom Durwood with cadets

As you may know, many of the best ideas from our smartest scholars go unread. The dissertations which our doctoral candidates work so hard to research and write usually find a tiny audience of fellow scholars and then disappear.

In my classroom, these ideas are gold.

What you see on this site is the beginning of a collection of open-access essays from some of our best scholars. My introductions, author interviews, visuals and lesson plans are intended to give the general reader a useful context for these scholarly essays. Wherever possible, we attach the full text of the original dissertation.

The best source material by the brightest scholars is largely unavailable to us. Even if it is published, a scholarly book can cost $80 and up, and many journal require a subscription. What you will see here are excerpts and interviews and in many cases the full dissertations of some of the best recent scholarship on all aspects of empire.

I teach full time, so I will be adding content at the slow pace of one new article every two weeks.

Note To Teachers

I teach English at Valley Forge Military College. My cadets are just as distracted and difficult-to-engage as your students may be, but they have the added burden of being exhausted by their military duties. So every morning, I face several classrooms full of yawning cadets who care more about their tactical officers and tactical demands than about me and my demands.

I work hard every day to engage them. The content and lesson plans you will find on this web site do the trick.

First, my cadets enjoy the challenge of higher-order thinking. If I can surprise them and dare them to understand a new idea, I am halfway there. Second, I can tie all of these articles to content that relates directly to my students’ personal success. I work to demonstrate that critical thinking of all kinds is their only salvation in a demanding job marketplace.

My lesson plans are aimed at a college sophomore English 101/102 student. These are critical thinking exercises intended to give context to the dissertation excerpts. I hope you will devise your own lesson plans – and post them in the Comments section, so other teachers can use them.

The writing in these essays varies. Some of our authors are brilliant researchers who are writing for other researchers, others are scholars who are also writers – they are able to express complex ideas in a simple-seeming narrative. Julia Keller could write about nuclear fission and make it seem easy, and Nicholas Ostler has that same gift.

These essays and assignments are, I think, most applicable to postsecondary English, History and Global Studies classes. I have used them in critical reading and writing classes, EN 101 and up.

I can certainly use your help. I don’t need money but I do need to widen the circle of teaching associations who know about this material — maybe state or city associations, bulletin boards, wherever you think teachers will find it. The web site will get more user-friendly as I have time to tinker with it over the coming the semester (I am teaching two conditional sections and two EN 102 sections this Fall).  Lastly, I hope you will let me know what topics you would like to see covered in future issues so I can develop content that suits your students.



Tom Durwood

Valley Forge, PA