Making Twitter Your Global Office Hours

April 6, 2016

An interview with Kevin Kruse on using Twitter in a professional context.

Kevin M. Kruse is a Professor of History at Princeton University. He is the author of One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America (2015) and White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism (2005) as well as co-editor of three essay collections.

How do you conceive of your use of Twitter in relation to your professional work as a historian? Can Twitter be a way of doing public history?

Most obviously, Twitter serves as a way to promote and publicize professional work. I use it selfishly, of course, to send out notices about new books, articles, op-eds, reviews and interviews, but I also use it to promote the work of other scholars, especially younger ones who might not have as high a profile as they deserve.

And yes, Twitter can be a way of doing public history, though in a quick and crude form. It lends itself to the same type of public engagement that we do through op-eds and articles in general interest publications to provide important context and background to current events, but with an immediacy that puts those forms to shame.

You attracted some attention last October for a Twitter essay responding to a tweet by National Review writer Kevin Williamson about the 1964 Civil Rights Act. What did you take away from that?

That was just a series of tweets I dashed off during halftime of an NFL game, so the reaction certainly caught me by surprise. What I was responding to was something I’d seen many times before and something I regarded, frankly, as a distortion of the historical record. Now, the historical context I provided was certainly not groundbreaking within the profession—any decent historian of the civil rights movement or modern politics could’ve done the same.

Read more at Process.

Process is the blog of the Organization of American Historians, the Journal of American History, and The American Historian, dedicated to exploring the process of doing history and the multifaceted ways of engaging with the U.S. past.