Chair and Professor of History
In a short while I will begin to experience the same difficulty most CENFAD members experience when trying to keep up with all its activities. Come January I'll be off to London for six months, and I'm very excited about what lays ahead of me. Living in London (the astronomical cost notwithstanding) has been a dream of mine for decades. I'll be a visiting fellow in the Department of War Studies at King's College, University of London. The Department is in fundamental respects CENFAD's soul mate, and I';ll be surrounded by and hence have countless opportunities to pick the brains of some of the world's leading experts on both force and diplomacy: Lawrence Freedman, Saki Dockrill, to mention but two. Without either administrative or teaching responsibilities, I'll have the time to devote my full attention (I might as well apologize now to my family) to the book on the American Empire that my publisher expects me to complete sooner rather than later. And where better to immerse oneself in the study of empire than London?
I am ambivalent about my impending departure, nevertheless. Honest, I am. No matter how engaging I find the Department of War Studies, I cannot imagine it matching the intellectual vitality, the intellectual electricity, which defines CENFAD. Last year we initiated the CENFAD colloquium. In large part because of the masterful scheduling of David Zierler, this year's Thomas Davis Fellow in Force and Diplomacy, the colloquia over the past semester have been uniformly outstanding. And they have been so diverse. We've learned from presentations by Christopher DeRosa, Stephen Biddle, Edward Westermann, and most recently David Trim. Regina Gramer, assisted ably by David Zierler and Drew McKevitt, introduced us to many of the questions addressed by the Small Arms projects, questions that pervaded the conference on Small Arms that CENFAD and the Harry Guggenheim Foundation sponsored at Columbia last summer.
I attended the conference itself; the presentations and discussions were remarkably stimulating and informative (a summary is available on our web page here. Also this summer CENFAD collaborated with Temple's Center for Vietnamese Philosophy, Culture, and Society to organize and host another conference, "The Vietnam War Thirty Years On: Unanswered Questions and the Search for Documentary Evidence." Those who attended represented a who's who among international scholars of the Vietnam War. A special treat was the participation of Luu Doan Huynh, now retired from Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. My only regret is that the conference took place in June before the transformation of the History Lounge on the 9th Floor of Gladfelter Hall into the Russell F. Weigley Room. Not until October did the chairs, seminar tables, and more begin to arrive.
The room won't be completed until after the new year, when we place Russ's fantastic collection of books in the bookcases (and the bookcases receive theirbacks!), we hang the framed jackets of Russ's books on the walls (many of you remember them from the memorial), and otherwise "accessorize" the room. I'll be away for this final act, and I hate that I will. I hope each and every one of you doesn't wait much longer to behold what is already unquestionably the finest venue at Temple. Russ would be thrilled that it is. We are already planning some special events after my return.
I'll miss CENFAD. But for want of a better way of putting it, CENFAD won't miss me. Not for a moment. Assistant Director Regina Gramer has been doing much of the heavy lifting for the past year as I added the directorship of the Center for the Humanities at Temple (CHAT) to my portfolio. If anything my absence will remove a bureaucratic layer from the implementation of her many ideas. Moreover, she'll have no shortage of resources on which to draw. Faculty who have come on board over the past couple of years-- Petra Goedde, Todd Shepard, Beth Bailey, among others-- already bombard her with a steady streams of suggestions and proposals. Will Hitchcock has spearheaded the development of an International History Workshop as a cognate of the CENFAD Colloquium. Its inaugural session took place on November 29 when Vlad Zubok led a discussion of his forthcoming book on Soviet foreign policy from Brezhnev to Gorbachev. The line-up for both the Colloquium and Workshop for the spring is exceptional. I won't spoil your surprise by naming names.
You'll be hearing from me while I'm away. I'll be thinking about you.