Manning will not come to Princeton
Though rumors have been circulating on the internet recently that noted Civil War historian and Georgetown associate professor Chandra Manning may be joining the Princeton’s history department, Manning denied these rumors in an interview with The Daily Princetonian this week.
“I know that over the summer there was some internet speculation,” Manning said in an interview Monday, “but I’m actually very happy at Georgetown, and I’m planning on staying.”
Manning, who received her doctorate from Harvard in 2002, was dubbed a “rising star in the history of the Civil War” by The Boston Globe. In April 2007 her book “What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War” was met with rave reviews.
On Aug. 18, a blogger who calls himself Ambrose Hofstader Bierce III and aims to serve as a coagulator of the gossip of historians, posted a piece lamenting the University’s history department’s fall “onto troubled times.”
He attributed the fall to the departure or retirement of several prominent historians, including Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War expert James McPherson in 2004.
Bierce left his readers with the hint that “There are other plans afoot at Princeton this very moment, including ongoing efforts to replace the venerable McPherson.”
Manning acknowledged that there were talks.
“I had some discussions with the department,” she told the ‘Prince.’ “I always made clear that I wasn’t going to leave Georgetown for an untenured position anywhere.”
She added that she “really enjoyed the opportunity to meet several members of the department” but declined to comment further on the extent of the discussions.
On Aug. 29, the Globe picked up Bierce’s story and interviewed history department chair Jeremy Adelman, who lambasted Bierce for his faulty description of the department. Such an account, he told the Globe, “would get an F in my course.”
The Globe, however, reported that Adelman was awaiting the decision of University officials on his department’s recommendation to offer Manning a tenured spot.
But Manning said she never received an offer of tenure. “If I had an actual offer to consider, then I would think about the offer in front of me,” she told the ‘Prince,’ “but I never got as far as having an actual offer.”
Both Adelman and Dean of the Faculty David Dobkin declined to comment on the issue.
“I am afraid I cannot comment on this case,” Adelman said in an e-mail. “[M]y only advice is that the internet is a highly imperfect source of information, usually unsubstantiated innuendo.”
Though Manning would neither confirm nor deny the Globe’s report that the University had considered her for tenure, she took issue with Bierce’s comments about the state of the history department at Princeton.
“[The department] has a long and well-deserved reputation as a place for both cultivating sound scholarship and great undergraduate teaching,” she said. “It’s got a proud history, and I see no reason to suspect that it will not continue like that.”