To help history buffs survive the holidays, Common-place, the web journal of early American life, is today publishing a special feature at www.common-place.org , something to get you from Thanksgiving turkey to New Year’s champagne. Stephen Nissenbaum’s “There Arose Such a Clatter” -- an investigation of who really wrote “The Night before Christmas” -- is guaranteed to relieve your winter doldrums. In his witty, thoughtful essay, Nissenbaum, a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts and the author of The Battle for Christmas, challenges literary historian Don Foster’s recent and much-publicized conclusion that curmudgeonly Clement Clark Moore could never have produced such a lively, jingly gem of a poem.
Since its launch in September, Common-place has already earned a name for itself as an innovative "middle ground" between jargon-ridden ivory-tower scholarship and the diluted version of American history you can read about in popular magazines or watch on television. In recent months, we've earned awards and "picks" from USA Today, Brill's Content, The Scout Report, Yahoo.com and others, all applauding our vivid writing, elegant design, and fresh approach to bringing the past to the public. Our special holiday feature offers you more of the same.
Meanwhile, Common-place’s second issue is just around the corner, to be published on New Year's Day. Like our award-winning first issue, this issue of Common-place promises to enlighten and engage, with lively new features by Molly McCarthy, who confesses her addiction to eBay, and by Ann Fabian, who enters the fray in the battle over Kennewick Man. Also coming January 1st: Ezra Greenspan’s tour of a website devoted to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Barry Bienstock’s inspiring tale of teaching high school students about 1492, Richard Wrightman Fox’s defense of writing history backwards, Laura Rigal’s look at Ben Franklin’s passion for "electric books," and Jane Kamensky's answer to the question, Why spend Columbus Day and Thanksgiving marching in the streets? Plus reviews and more, including your own contributions and commentary at Common-place's "Republic of Letters."
As always, you can expect Common-place to serve up a feast of informed scholarship, impassioned opinion, and energetic prose. But there's no need to wait until January 1st to get your Common-place fix. Visit www.common-place.org today and let us know what you think of our special holiday feature.
Jill Lepore and Jane Kamensky, Editors
Jill Lepore and Jane Kamensky
Boston University and Brandeis University
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