All posts by Benoit Majerus

Since January 2011, I am working as Associate Professor at the University of Luxembourg. I have written my PhD on the occupation of Belgium during World War One and World Two. In 2013 I published a history of psychiatry in the 20th century from below. I am also co-editor of h-madness.

Using Twitter during a lecture – some technical remarks

Bertrand Formet who animates an excellent blog on experiences with Twitter in French-speaking schools around the world asked me some technical details after my first post.

First of all, I invited students to publish their comments/questions with the hashtag #hist155, hist155 being the administrative code of my class. I used Tweetdeck to search the Twitter-stream and display the comments.

The second problem was more difficult to solve. There was only one projector: if you use the slide-show modus from your word processor, in my case LibreOffice, your screen is completely filled out and you are not able to display at the same time Tweetdeck. The aim of the experience was however to display at the same time my slides and the questions/comments from the students to create some sort of interactivity. There seems to be no “proper” fix to solve this problem. A user of DigitalHumanities.org offered me the following solution: “just show a Google Doc presentation in a browser stretched to 4/5 of the your screen’s width and your Twitter app taking up the remaining 20%.” And that’s what I did.

Last unsolved problem was the conservation of the tweets, a problem I hadn’t think about at the beginning. Twitter only allows you to search the tweets of the last two weeks. Several people proposed Twatterkeeper, but they have been recently bought by HootSuite and no longer offer this help. Other services such as ThinkUp don’t allow search for hashtags but only for people. So together with the education service of the ULB, we copied the tweets in a spreadsheet.

The picture was taken by one of the students (@trankim90) during my class and posted on twitter with the hashtag hist155.

Benoit Majerus

Since January 2011, I am working as Associate Professor at the University of Luxembourg. I have written my PhD on the occupation of Belgium during World War One and World Two. In 2013 I published a history of psychiatry in the 20th century from below. I am also co-editor of h-madness.

More Posts

Using Wikipedia in a seminar on historiography

Since several years René Leboutte, professor at the history department of the University of Luxembourg, organises on a regular basis workshops and larger conferences on the subject of Digital Humanities. Today he invited me to one of this workshop asking me to reflect on the use of Wikipedia in one of my classes on historiography given to students in their third year.

If the use of Wikipedia seems quite wide-spread in the United States (revising posts, creating new ones or even inventing a person), European historians seem to be more sceptical: there are some documented experiences for German-speaking countries, I do not know of any in the French-speaking countries.

Instead of an exam, I decided last year that the students had to write an entry for Wikipedia on an historian from the 20th century. The 15 students of that year all knew Wikipedia but had never produced any content on it.1 At the beginning, students were quite astonished that a teacher would explicitly ask them to use Wikipedia, still often presented as “evil” by academics. All of them succeeded in posting a biography of an historian on Wikipedia without my help: four used the French Wikipedia, one the German one and 10 the Luxembourgish one. In the Luxembourgish Wikipedia all entries were new except one, in the French and German Wikipedia, the students significantly increased the size of the notice – they had to write 12 000 characters, twice the average number of characters used for the biographies of the historians they worked on. The content produced by the students was largely accepted by the three Wikipedia communities: only one was completely erased. Especially on the Luxemburgish Wikipedia the notices were heavily adapted to the specific Wikipedia style. Members of this last community also contacted me, offering the possibility to create a specific portal if I want to retry the experience. These positive elements only partially outweigh the negative ones. None of the students used the possibilities offered by the specificities of the Internet. 13 of the 15 students just copy-past the text they had written on a word processor into Wikipedia: no links to other content on Wikipedia or on the Web, no attention paid to specific Wikipedia features… And none of the students, at least under the identity created for the course, continued to be an active part inside Wikipedia. And that had been for me at least, a very important aim of my class.

The picture is a screenshot from the best post, a notice on Saul Friedländer published on the German Wikipedia (the version before the student intervened, the version proposed by the student, and the version as it is today).

Some useful bibliography/links:

  • Cavender, Amy. “Ah, Wikipedia!” The Chronicle of Higher Education. ProfHacker, January 29, 2010. http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/ah-wikipedia/22941.
  • Forte, A., and A. Bruckman. “From Wikipedia to the classroom: exploring online publication and learning.” In Proceedings of the 7th international conference on Learning sciences, 182–188, 2006.
  • Kelly, Mils. “Consider Yourself Warned.” edwired, November 5, 2011. http://edwired.org/2011/11/05/consider-yourself-warned/.
  • Parker, K.R., and J.T. Chao. “Wiki as a teaching tool.” Learning 3, no. 1 (2007): 57–72.
  1. This is typical for Wikipedia users: only 5% of their users also produce content; Pscheida, Daniela. Das Wikipedia-Universum : wie das Internet unsere Wissenskultur verändert. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2010, p. 357. []

Benoit Majerus

Since January 2011, I am working as Associate Professor at the University of Luxembourg. I have written my PhD on the occupation of Belgium during World War One and World Two. In 2013 I published a history of psychiatry in the 20th century from below. I am also co-editor of h-madness.

More Posts

Using Twitter during a lecture – how to evaluate the experience?

More than a year ago, I read an article on Mashable about how Monica Rankin(UT Dallas) used Twitter during her lecture. And this semester I had to give a class on European History in the 19th and 20th century in the largest “classroom” (cf. picture) of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), which offers seats for 1 200 students. Very quickly I was quite frustrated by the fact that an interaction with these first-year students from political science, sociology… was difficult. And so I thought about using Rankin’s idea, even if her setting was different, because she had “only” 90 students.

As the end of the term approaches, I would like to evaluate this experience together with the education service of the ULB. What are the questions you would ask students?

Benoit Majerus

Since January 2011, I am working as Associate Professor at the University of Luxembourg. I have written my PhD on the occupation of Belgium during World War One and World Two. In 2013 I published a history of psychiatry in the 20th century from below. I am also co-editor of h-madness.

More Posts

Psychiater als Experten der Migration

Gestern durfte ich in einem Workshop des Zentrums für Vergleichende Europäische Studien (ZEUS) vortragen. Titel des Workshops war Medizin im Kalten Krieg. Medizinische Expertise in der europäischen Zeitgeschichte. Ich sprach über Psychiater als Migrationsexperten. Ausgehend von einem Artikel (« L’invention » de l’immigré. La psychiatrie belge face à la migration maghrébine dans les années 1960 et 1970) der in Kürze im Le Mouvement Social erscheinen soll, wollte ich das Thema geographisch ausweiten, indem ich die Debatten in Deutschland und Frankreich miteinbezog. Ich beschränkte mich auf publizierte Fachdiskurse (Handbücher und Fachzeitschriften) für diese beiden Ländern. Fragestellung war wie Psychiater von den 1950er bis in die 1970er Jahre hinein zur Definition der Immigranten als “gesellschaftliches Problem” (Joseph Gusfield) beigetragen haben.

Zwei Bemerkungen waren für mich besonders interessant. Einerseits muss ich begriffsgeschichtlich klarer werden: Gastarbeiter, Immigranten, transplantés, Flüchtlinge… Zwischen 1950 und 1980 ändern sich die Definitionen sehr stark. Und es scheint auf dieser Ebene Unterschiede zwischen Deutschland und Frankreich zu geben. In Deutschland spricht man am Anfang eher von Gastarbeitern, in Frankreich eher von Immigranten. Und das schliesst an die zweite Bemerkung an: Deutschland definiert sich erst sehr spät als Einwanderungsgesellschaft, was erklären könnte, warum deutsche Psychiater Migration später als die französischen Mediziner “entdecken”.

Im Rahmen eines anderen Vortrags von Stefanie Coché zur Psychiatrische Einweisungspraxis in Nationalsozialismus, BRD und DDR (1941–63) hat Eric Engstrom die Frage aufgeworfen, inwieweit Historiker immer noch in einer antipsychiatrischen Genealogie gefangen sind. Zu diesem Thema finde ich einen rezenten Artikel von Catherine Fussinger in History of Psychiatry sehr inspirierend. Anknüpfend daran müsste man nicht nur Arbeiten zur Einweisung anregen, sondern auch Studien zu Entlassungen in der Psychiatrie. Schlussendlich hat Dagmar Ellerbrock darauf hingewiesen, dass Körpergeschichte und science studies Möglichkeiten bieten, dem “Primat der Psychiatriekritik” (Eric Engstrom) zu entgehen.

Die Illustration für diesen Post ist die Titelseite der “Urstudie” zur Psychopathologie der Migranten von Ornulv Odegaard aus dem Jahre 1932.

Benoit Majerus

Since January 2011, I am working as Associate Professor at the University of Luxembourg. I have written my PhD on the occupation of Belgium during World War One and World Two. In 2013 I published a history of psychiatry in the 20th century from below. I am also co-editor of h-madness.

More Posts

Book Review – Volkmann, Hans-Erich. Luxemburg im Zeichen des Hakenkreuzes

Après la lecture des 530 pages, le livre de Hans-Erich Volkmann laisse un goût de trop peu. Ce sentiment n’est pas lié aux chapitres qui forment le cœur même du livre, à savoir la politique économique de l’Allemagne nazie par rapport au Luxembourg de 1933 à 1944. L’auteur y livre une étude très nourrie en se focalisant sur la sidérurgie et le monde bancaire. En adoptant le point de vue de l’occupant – le lecteur luxembourgeois aurait peut-être préféré le choix inverse – le spécialiste de l’histoire économique allemande des années nationales-socialistes remet le cas luxembourgeois dans une perspective plus large. Il approfondit les quelques pages que Paul Dostert avait consacrées à cette problématique dans sa thèse, publiée il y a déjà 25 ans. Cette monographie confirme l’importance du concept de « polycratie » pour comprendre les échecs mais également les succès de la gouvernance nationale-socialiste. Les controverses entre le Gauleiter Gustav Simon et Hermann Göring dans sa fonction de dirigeant des Reichswerke, les confrontations entre la Dresdner Bank et la Deutsche Bank font apparaître un occupant beaucoup moins homogène que sa représentation dans l’historiographie luxembourgeoise. Malheureusement Volkmann se lance peu dans la comparaison avec les autres territoires occupés ce qui aurait permis de dégager dans quelle mesure la situation du Luxembourg avait été spécifique. Les chapitres qui suivent de près les archives sont donc intéressants par leur richesse factuelle.

Mais dès que l’auteur quitte le propre de son sujet et qu’il se lance dans des interprétations plus larges, son absence de connaissance de l’historiographie luxembourgeoise ainsi qu’un style pour le moins malheureux soulèvent de nombreuses questions. Concernant l’identité luxembourgeoise, ses constats sont le plus souvent anachroniques ce qui n’est guère étonnant vu que son ouvrage de référence est un article de Nicolas Margue de 1937 (!). Ses propres analyses sont souvent marquées par des clichés nationaux, peu dignes d’un historien au début du 21e siècle, ainsi lorsqu’il parle du « ausgeprägter merkantiler Sinn de[r] Luxemburger » (p. 21). Son vocabulaire – notamment l’utilisation récurrente de la « Völkerpsychologie » – rappelle étrangement la terminologie des années 1920 et 1930. Ses comparaisons sont souvent de mauvais goût. Les intentions allemandes en 1940, même en excluant le volet antisémite, ne sont pas comparables avec celles de la Belgique et la France en 1918 (p. 24). De même, justifier l’intérêt pour les continuités qui perdurent au-delà de la fin de l’occupation en parlant de l’introduction du vin par la Rome antique sur la Moselle laisse apparaître une conception historique pour le moins douteuse. (p. 497). Finalement la formulation de certaines phrases est plus que malheureuse surtout lorsqu’elle ne permet pas de faire la distinction entre des paraphrases de l’idéologie nazie et l’opinion de l’auteur. Les chapitres d’introduction et de conclusion dans lesquels l’auteur sort du cadre purement économique posent donc clairement problème à tel point que je suis étonné que la « Fondation nationale de la Résistance » ait soutenu financièrement la publication de ce livre.

Benoit Majerus

Since January 2011, I am working as Associate Professor at the University of Luxembourg. I have written my PhD on the occupation of Belgium during World War One and World Two. In 2013 I published a history of psychiatry in the 20th century from below. I am also co-editor of h-madness.

More Posts