By KC Johnson
Each year, the American Historical Association---the nation's leading professional organization of historians---confers the Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award, which "recognizes inspiring teachers whose techniques and mastery of subject matter made a lasting impression and substantial difference to students of history." At the 2011 annual conference (held January 4-7 week in Boston), the AHA will add recently-retired Duke professor Peter Wood to the Asher Award's list of "inspiring" teachers of history.
For those who followed the lacrosse case, Wood needs no introduction; he was among the most outspoken anti-lacrosse members of the Duke faculty. Wood's commentary, however, differed from that of other anti-lacrosse extremists, most of whose public remarks focused on assumptions of guilt about the criminal case (the Group of 88's statement) or race-baiting demagoguery. Wood, on the other hand, tended to use the lacrosse case to speak out about the character of students in his classes. He did so through a string of statements that contained stereotyped, malicious, or evidence-free things about his own students. That such a figure could subsequently win an award specifically designed for "inspiring" students in his classes is nothing short of astonishing.
KC Johnson's blog on the Duke Lacrosse hoax is "Durham in Wonderland"