My name is Leslie Rogne Schumacher. I write about history, politics, and society. A native of the American Upper Midwest, I hold a Ph.D. in modern European and Middle Eastern history from the University of Minnesota, where I studied with Dr. Anna Clark. My scholarly interests lie in British imperial and political history, Orientalism and its critics, the history and future of the European Union, the structure of foreign policymaking, and the conflicts that have emerged in modern democratic society over the freedom of information and ideas. Much of my work has centered on the concept of the East-West relationship.
I have a passion for writing. I have written articles published in the Journal of European Studies (link), The New Islander (link), History News Network (link 1, link 2), and I am the author of two book chapters, one on Britain’s Ionian protectorate (link) and a forthcoming one on British visual depictions of the 1894-1896 Armenian Massacres (for more information, see link). I am currently gathering contributors for a planned volume on Europeans in service to Muslim rulers during the Middle East’s nineteenth-century “age of reform.” I have a deep interest in writing for a general audience as well—a goal I hope this website furthers.
I provide service for a number of academic organizations, journals, and initiatives. I serve as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of The British Scholar Society, an organization whose focus is "Britain and the World" and which holds a popular international annual conference, publishes a top-ranked journal, and edits a highly regarded book series from Palgrave Macmillan. I also sit on the review panels of Diplomacy & Statecraft, Victorian Network, Studia Historyczne, Britain and the World, and the Marmara Journal of European Studies. For the last of these I also serve on the editorial board. I am a member of the North American Conference on British Studies (NACBS), the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES), and the Digital Humanities 2.0 initiative at the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota.
I have long been involved in political activism and campaigning, primarily but not exclusively for progressive causes. As a teenager, I was a founding member of Iron Range Youth in Action, as well as a community organizer for a pilot grant program called Orr Youth Development, for which I and others lobbied at the state (MN) and national level for youth education and health issues. In college I served as an elected student representative in my college's student congress, including for a time as Chair of the Board of Elected Representatives. I was involved in the Minneapolis-St. Paul's vibrant antiwar community before and during the Iraq War, and I helped run a Green Party reelection campaign for Minneapolis City Council in 2006. Currently, I am serving as the Tompkins County (NY) Co-Chair for a Democratic Congressional campaign (link).
I live in Ithaca, NY with my wife Kaja J. Tally-Schumacher, a Ph.D. Candidate at Cornell University (link). I was a Visiting Lecturer at the State University of New York – New Paltz in 2013, and I have also taught at Tompkins Cortland Community College. In Fall 2009 I was a Visiting Research Student at the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London, and in Spring 2012 I was a Visiting Fellow in the History Department at Harvard University. In Fall 2016 I will take up a post at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, PA as the 2016-2017 David H. Burton Fellow in history, where I will teach modern European and Middle Eastern history. Like thousands of other academics, I remain in search of a permanent tenure-track job.
About this Website
Although one can find information on my professional background on this website, it is not just an electronic CV. The goal of all scholars is of course the analysis of complex topics, but I consider myself a critic as much as an analyst. I believe in the ideal of the public intellectual—a creature that is nearly extinct in American society, although it once was a prevalent and influential voice in civic discourse. Given that American political culture is increasingly defined by opinion-making of the least credible kind, we need to explain why and how American public intellectualism has declined.
The lion's share of the blame for the ebbing of public intellectualism must rest with the corporatization of the university. In recent decades, America has witnessed the rise of a new, highly money-based elitism, and academia has followed society's lead (whether enthusiastically or not) by increasingly emphasizing money-oriented training. But we all know that the university has never really been separate from the structure and hierarchy of the American political economy—quite the opposite, in fact, given the benefactory origins of so many of America's institutions of higher learning, large and small.
However, have we scholars really done our utmost to fight against the academy's pernicious adaptation to the modern obsession with greed and affluence, which gives money the priority over all other civic identities, behaviors, and duties? No, we have not. We as scholars must shoulder part of the blame for the death of the public intellectual in American society. We have let ourselves be removed from public discourse as much as we have resisted our removal, and it is naïve or dishonest to say otherwise.
Whatever the causes, though, there is no doubt that the voice of the modern scholar too rarely extends beyond the classroom and the faculty meeting. I think that this is a problem. I think we can do more with our training and knowledge. Many of us wish we did do more and yet still do not. This website is my attempt to contribute to the broader world of ideas and opinion. It is a multi-layered affair and a work-in-progress:
- The Blog section contains my commentary on issues related to my areas of scholarly interest, the state of the industry and culture of higher education, current events in foreign and domestic affairs, and trends in American culture.
- The Contact form can be used to get in touch with me, which I enthusiastically encourage.
As I complete the initial phases of construction on this website, three additional sections of this website will be added:
- The Projects section will give details on my past, present, and future work.
- The Trends section will provide several curated feeds (including news, Twitter, and RSS) that interested parties can read and subscribe to.
- The Resources section will be a continuously updated and organized list of writers, outlets, organizations, and initiatives that advance the ideal of public intellectualism.