Introducing our new managing editor, Kyle Bridge

Since Claire Clark and I took over Points in April 2014, we’ve been committed to bringing you the most unique, thoughtful, and hopefully entertaining posts on alcohol and drug history available on the web. And, through the consistent quality of our writing, we’ve achieved some significant success: we now reach nearly 9,000 unique visitors each month, and record over 13,000 views. Our articles have been picked up by Hacker News, Reddit, and the Atlantic, and we’ve become a trustworthy destination for researchers looking for information on national and international drug and alcohol history, whether that concerns the use of alcohol and tobacco in World War I, race in the modern war on drugs, or the correlation between mugshots and the abuse of meth. We have our staff of a dozen contributing editors and numerous guest bloggers to thank for the quality and value of our posts, and I’m constantly in awe of the incredible work they regularly turn out.

But my time as managing editor is coming, if temporarily, to a close. This post will be published on September 1st, which is also the due date of the birth of my first child. Though there are no guarantees that my baby boy will actually show up on that day, I’m handing over the reins to assistant managing editor Kyle Bridge, a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Florida, so that I can focus on raising a tiny human and completing the manuscript for my first book: Grassroots, the history of marijuana activism from the 1960s to today, will be released by Basic Books in fall 2017.

Kyle has been involved with Points for years – you may recognize him from Pointscast, the podcast he produces with Alex Tepperman – and I have all the faith in the world that he’ll continue to oversee more incredible work from our writers. You can contact him at if you’re interested in writing for Points, giving any comments, or just wishing him luck in his new role.

I hope to return to Points, either as an editor or a writer, as soon as I’ve gotten my feet back under me. Being a member of the Points family has been an incredible ride, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Stay tuned every Tuesday and Thursday morning for more posts that make short and insightful commentary about the long and complicated history of intoxicants in the US and abroad, and feel free to contact me at with any questions, concerns, or words of advice for new parents.

Points is back!

After a brief hiatus, Points is rolling out a new look. We have new managing editors and have added fresh voices to our roster of contributing editors (for more on that, check out our bios below). But our mission remains the same:

 Points is an academic group blog that brings together scholars with wide-ranging expertise with the goal of producing original and thoughtful reflections on the history of alcohol and drugs, the web of policy surrounding them, and their place in popular culture.  A group blog provides a space for the exchange of new ideas, insights, and speculations about our interdisciplinary and rapidly evolving field.  With a diverse audience in mind, postings to Points will feature short takes (500-1000 words) by contributing editors and guest bloggers on a wide range of topics—ruminations on a new archive, scathing cultural criticism, commentary on current events, etc.  More informed than the mainstream media and less turgid than the average academic journal, Points will exemplify a new kind of scholarly exchange.

Be on the lookout for new content beginning next week. If you’re interested in contributing, send a note to managing editors Claire Clark and Emily Dufton. Points can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Managing Editors:

Claire Clark is a dual-trained historian and behavioral scientist (Ph.D./MPH, Emory University, 2014) and a postdoctoral fellow in medical humanities and ethics. Her work has appeared in history and social science journals, and has been supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the Hastings Center. Her current book project, provisionally titled The Recovery Revolution, explores how ex-addict activists shaped the addiction treatment industry since the 1960s.

Emily Dufton received her Ph.D. in American Studies from George Washington University in May 2014. Her dissertation, “Just Say Know: How the Parent Movement Shaped America’s Modern War on Drugs, 1970-2000,” traced the history of the parent movement, the most successful grassroots anti-drug movement of the late twentieth century. Dufton’s writing has appeared on The Atlantic, History News Network, and in several academic journals, and she has appeared on NPR’s “BackStory with the American History Guys” and the YouTube program Instant Response Team, discussing her work and the current marijuana legalization process in the United States.

Contributing Editors:

Michael Durfee: A Ph.D. candidate in the history department at SUNY Buffalo, Michael Durfee works under the advisement of Points Contributor Dr. David Herzberg.  His prior education includes an M.A. in history from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in education from Lewis and Clark College. He is currently at work researching his dissertation which analyzes the dynamics of Crack Era reform from 1986 to 1992, loosely constructed. In 2012, Michael joined the faculty of Niagara University’s History Department where he presently teaches courses on postwar urban history, the modern War on Drugs, and the rise of Mass Incarceration.

Alexine Fleck: Alexine Fleck teaches English and Women’s Studies at the Community College of Philadelphia. She completed her Ph.D. in English at the University of Pennsylvania, where she wrote about the ways drug users and addicts enter into and challenge “expert” discourse on addiction. While completing her degree, she worked as an ethnographer tasked with mapping HIV transmission through drug use and sex work for an HIV-prevention research division at the university. Her work attempts to use the tools of literary analysis to understand and legitimize the lived experiences of drug use and addiction. When she is not teaching or writing, she spends time with her newly adopted horse, Annie.

Nicholas Johnson: Nick Johnson is a graduate student in Public History at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. His research interests include Weimar Culture, the First World War, Intellectual History, Urban History, Film, and Modern Literature. He is a huge fan of the Sazerac and everything that Belgian and German brewing traditions have to offer. Find him on Twitter @Tchoupitoulas89

Amy Long (Media Liaison): Amy Long is an MFA candidate in fiction at Virginia Tech. She previously worked for Media Coalition and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression in New York City; the ACLU’s Drug Law Reform Project in Santa Cruz, CA; and Common Sense for Drug Policy in Washington, D.C.  Amy holds a BA in English and Women’s Studies and an MA in Women’s Studies from the University of Florida; her research there focused on the relationships among drug dealing, gender, and capitalism in early, modern, and contemporary narratives.

Michelle McClellan: Michelle McClellan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History and the Residential College at the University of Michigan.  She received her Ph.D. in American history from Stanford University, and she is very interested in interdisciplinary approaches to studying and teaching about addiction.  Her research has focused largely on alcoholism and women, and she is completing a book that uses the figure of the alcoholic woman as a way to explore the complex intersection of gender and medicalization in nineteenth- and twentieth-century America.   McClellan is also fascinated by issues of secrecy, disclosure, and public memory in the history of addiction, and she is beginning a collective biography of women who revealed their alcoholism during the last third of the twentieth century.

Saeyoung Park:  An Assistant Professor of East Asian History at Davidson College in North Carolina, Park is a historian who works primarily on China and Korea, She received her Ph.D (2011) from the Johns Hopkins University and was the Korea Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania (2011). Her book manuscript on war and memory is titled Politics of the Past: The Imjin War in Korea. Currently, she is working on psychoactive substances, addiction, and the aesthetics of consumption in Korea and China (1600-present).

Adam Rathge is a Ph.D. candidate in the history department at Boston College, working under the advisement of Dr. Martin Summers. His dissertation in-progress examines a century-long road to federal marijuana prohibition in the United States by analyzing the development and transformation of medical discourse, regulatory processes, and social concerns surrounding cannabis between 1840 and 1940. Adam’s research offers a fresh approach to the historiography on marijuana by tracing how and why cities and states across the country regulated cannabis before the federal government and the effect these varied regulations had on each other, on the emergence of marijuana hysteria, and on the impetus for federal regulation. He previously received a B.S. from the University of Dayton and a M.A. from the University of Cincinnati. Find him on Twitter @ARRathge.

Ron Roizen: Ron Roizen writes about the history and sociology of alcohol science; he lives in Wallace, Idaho.

Eoin Cannon (Managing Editor Emeritus): Now speechwriter for Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Eoin Cannon spent several years as Lecturer and Assistant Director of Studies in the History & Literature program at Harvard University. His book, The Saloon and the Mission: Addiction, Conversion, and the Politics of Redemption in American Culture (UMass Press, 2013), examines sobriety movements between the Civil War and World War II, and the roles their narratives played in advancing various social and political ideas. A former newspaper reporter based in Dorchester, Mass., he also writes on cities, sports, religion, and literature.

Joe Spillane (Managing Editor Emeritus): Joe Spillane is Associate Professor of History at the University of Florida, where he is also an affiliate of the Department of Sociology, Criminology & Law. He has published Cocaine: From Medical Marvel to Modern Menace in the United States (Johns Hopkins Press, 2000) and co-edited Federal Drug Control: The Evolution of Policy and Practice (Haworth Press, 2004).  His current drug-related research agenda includes: the history and development of drug abuse liability assessment; addiction, trauma, and Vietnam veterans; and reflections on the nature of drug epidemics.

Trysh Travis (Managing Editor Emeritus): A 20th-century literary and cultural historian, Trysh Travis teaches in the Center for Women’s Studies & Gender Research at the University of Florida.  She has published on the gender and power of addiction and recovery, spirituality, and bibliotherapy in a variety of scholarly and popular venues.  Her book The Language of the Heart: a Cultural History of the Recovery Movement from Alcoholics Anonymous to Oprah Winfrey appeared in 2009.  With Timothy Aubry, she is the co-editor of the anthology “Re-Thinking Therapeutic Culture” (U. Chicago Press, forthcoming).

ADHS Daily Register: Call for Editors

The Alcohol and Drugs History Society is looking for one or more new Managing Editors of the ADHS Daily Register.  The Daily Register is a long-time online publication of the ADHS, dedicated to providing regular news, publication updates, and announcements of interest to both the members of the organization and the wider, global audience interested in alcohol and drugs history.  The Daily Register is a valuable resource with an extensive readership, and the ADHS seeks to identify Managing Editors willing to help carry on its mission of providing far-ranging news and information.  Prospective Managing Editors should be familiar with the alcohol and drugs history field, and willing to cast a wide net in identifying items of interest to Daily Register readers.  New Managing Editors will have the opportunity to work alongside current Editor David Fahey, to ensure an easy transition of editorial responsibility.  Anyone interested should contact Joe Spillane, at, for more information.

Points of Continuity

As the new managing editor of Points, it’s high time I introduced myself. For my lateness, I could offer some familiar academic excuses, but I have one that’s better: thanks mainly to work done by Trysh Travis and others, the blog has been filled with excellent essays in the new year, led by the wonderful symposium on the fortieth anniversary of David Musto’s The American Disease that was organized by Nancy Campbell. Reading those posts as they arrived was an especially useful way for me to start my tenure. They illustrated the development of drug history in the lived, personal pathways that are usually invisible to late-comers and onlookers. In doing so they put on display one of the best and most necessary things about Points: its role as a window into – and often, as a medium fefc Hvd ID picor – the multi-layered nature of knowledge production. Ideas in development, reflections on method, forays across disciplinary borders and, as in the symposium, retrospection – together these various kinds of posts constitute a fuller and more open account of how academic thought takes shape. But this is just one way of thinking about Points. One of my goals is to facilitate an open conversation about what the blog can and should do.

Continue reading

Announcements: New Managing Editor, Points Blog, Seeks Same

Points: The Blog of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society, seeks a new managing editor for a two-year term beginning January 2013.  This person will join Eoin Cannon of the Committee on Degrees in History and Literature at Harvard University at the blog’s helm; the co-managing editors, in collaboration with the glowing roster of Contributing Editors, will engage in the long term and day-to-day labor that will carry Points into its third and fourth years.

Duties of the Managing Editor include (but are not limited to): maintaining the blog website and troubleshooting technical issues as they arise; writing regular features in their own area of expertise; recruiting Contributing Editors and Guest Bloggers; planning symposia around conferences and other academic and policy events; editing, formatting, and publishing Guest Blogger posts; soliciting content for the Points interviews, and for Points on Blogs, Points Forward, and Teaching Points series;  publicizing Points content through relevant listservs and other outlets; managing the republication relationship with The Atlantic; and advancing the Points mission of crossing the boundaries among academic, policy, and treatment discourses.

Ideal candidates will hold an advanced degree, have an affiliation with a recognized research institution, and have a distinguished record of publication related to alcohol and drugs history.  They should be comfortable with the translation of scholarly research into accessible, public language, and should be able to facilitate such translation as an editor and advocate for the blog.  They should have sufficient general knowledge of alcohol and drugs history (and the related histories of their regulation, economics, and representations, and of biomedical discourse centered on them) that they can evaluate and edit writings from across a broad scholarly spectrum.  They should have sufficient visual sensibility that they can illustrate and format pieces that are attractive and readable, and sufficient technical know-how that they can manage the (only very occasionally quirky) wordpress platform. Further qualifications include outstanding organizational skills and an interest in herding cats.  Interested parties should contact Managing Editor Trysh Travis at ttravis_at_ufl_dot_edu.

Points Managing Editor at Work

Monetize the Blog!

Gentle readers, if  you felt a pang go through you when you read yesterday that co-founder and co-managing editor Joe Spillane was stepping down from his lofty perch at Points, you were not alone.  The blog has gained both maturity and momentum in the last eight months, and those have brought stability to our day-to-day operations. But steering Points remains a demanding job, and while Joe is kind to call me “indefatigable,” his departure does bring us to a kind of turning point. How fortunate for us that just this weekend I was contacted by a marketing firm whose client–a drug treatment facility– would like to place their “high quality content” dealing with addiction and recovery on Points!

And Your Content Too

This is not the first invitation we’ve had to commoditize.  More than one person (at least one of whom was somebody’s well-meaning family member) has suggested we sign up with Google’s “AdSense” and start generating revenue by selling space on the blog to advertisers.  Last winter, another marketing firm (actually, pretty clearly an independent contractor doing piece work from home in one of those jobs you see advertised on a telephone pole) approached us about embedding links to relevant products and services into our posts. The occasion was guest blogger Michelle Garcia’s post on “Border History as Drugs History”; the linked-to product in this instance was a guide to online degree programs in Homeland Security Studies. And the going rate? Fifty bucks per link. Continue reading

March In Review

Editor’s Note: As you may have noticed, we here at Points have not been publishing our regular Week in Review lately. Instead, we’re experimenting with a new monthly review column that will allow our readership to get a more holistic sense of the various projects Points’ contributors have been working on. This means that, in the interest of brevity, we will be offering less discussion of recent articles. Instead, we will provide reader with more straightforward references which, we hope, will promote ease-of-use. If you have any thoughts on our recent changes, please drop us a line at or leave a comment below.

March 2012 was one of Points’ busiest months ever, as the site’s army of contributing writers continued to provide us with original content nearly every day. From our innovative symposium to a spate of articles on drugs and alcohol in popular culture, we were happy to bring an extraordinary variety of voices to Points over the last four weeks.

Points’ biggest undertaking this month was undoubtedly our symposium “Addiction, History, and Historians,” a series of commentaries on David Courtwright’s provocative article “Addiction and the Science of History.” We were lucky enough to convince a number top-rate scholars to provide us with their own responses to Dr. Courtwright’s article. We started off the symposium with meditations from Points Contributing Editor Nancy Campbell, Alex Mold of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Clarkson University Professor of Anthropology Daniel Bradburd, and Columbia University Professor of History Samuel Roberts. With these four incisive, powerful posts in hand, Dr. Courtwright, himself a Professor of History at the University of North Florida, relayed a compelling response. Longtime Points friend and contributor Ron Roizen wrapped up the symposium with a spritely reply to Dr. Courtwright’s reply, which he accompanied with a truly memorable work of outsider art.  Continue reading

“The Sun is the Same in a Relative Way…”

… as it was about a year ago when Points posted our first pieces of “short and insightful writing on the long and complex history” of alcohol and drugs.  And certainly, as the song says, we’re all “older and shorter of breath…closer to death.”  But if you can quit staring at the lava lamp for awhile, there are actually a few interesting things to note about Points‘ first year of life.  Yes, this is an anniversary post.

The Managing Editors Celebrate in the Points Office

My Co-Managing Editor Joe Spillane has observed some of the past year’s high points in recent posts of his own, so let me speculate a little about the future. As you know if you’ve looked recently at the Contributing Editors and Guest Bloggers pages, we’re starting our second year with a great roster of contributors: some old, some new, all certain to be interesting.  One of our chief goals this year is to break out of the 20th-century U.S. rut that it’s easy for alcohol and drugs scholarship to fall into (and the Managing Editors are allowed to call it a “rut,” as we’re both trained as 20th-century Americanists!). So look for more writing on early modern drugs and alcohol– both medicinal and recreational–as well as expanded coverage of drugs, drinking, and temperance in the 18th and 19th centuries.  With the help of our expanding roster of contributors, I do believe that in the next year Points will cover every continent except Antarctica– and we’ll try to remedy that deficit with cross-postings like this one.

Our big new gang of contributors will also make it easier for us to offer “ripped from the headlines” content like our current “Points Towards the Presidency.”  Our goal there is not to compete with the MSM (we can’t– we’re academics who run a blog on the side, let’s not forget), but to take seriously Frederic Jameson’s famous injunction “Always historicize!”  Continue reading

Another Points Milestone, Another List!

You’ll all be pleased to know that Points recently passed the 50,000-view mark–nothing spectacular, of course, but worthy of note in our little corner of the electronic universe.  If you’re new to Points, or just curious, here’s a walk back through the ten most-viewed posts.  If you haven’t seen them before, why not take a look?

What the Hell's it Good For?

11. Siobhan Reynolds, “We Are the Drug War: Prohibition as Success”: I couldn’t help but include this final guest post from Siobhan Reynolds, posted back in July, 2011.  The eleventh-most-viewed post concludes, “it no longer makes sense to talk about the War on Drugs as something we as a nation do. The drug war forms the structure of our political system both domestically and abroad. It is, rather, what we are.”

10. AND 9. Ron Roizen, “Washington State’s Prop. 1183 Passes Easily” AND “Washington State’s Prop. 1183: The Iowa Dustup and Trends Thereafter”: the ninth and tenth most-viewed posts were part of Ron’s extended discussion (in October-November, 2011) of Proposition 1183 and the privatization of liquor sales.  Interest in 1183 led a lot of folks to read Ron’s thoughtful discussion.

8. Siobhan Reynolds, “Abusive Treatment: Drug Prohibition and the Erosion of the Doctor/Patient Relationship”: The third post in Reynolds’ guest series, this one from June, 2011.

Redemption Songs

7. Eoin Cannon, “Boxing, Crack, and Class in The Fighter: This guest post from May, 2011, is the seventh most-viewed.  Cannon’s thoughtful post places the film The Fighter and its story of Dicky Ecklund’s addiction and recovery into the larger context of recovery narratives.

6. Siobhan Reynolds, “Getting Relief in Wartime: Opioids, Pain Management, and the War on Drugs”: The second guest post of Reynolds’ series.

5. Joe Spillane, “The Stoned Ages”: This post from September, 2011, announced the forthcoming History Channel documentary The Stoned Ages, which featured several regular Points contributors.  A more substantive follow-up post is in the Points top twenty.

4. Eoin Cannon, “Clinical Sentiments, Part 2: Shane MacGowan”: In this April, 2011 post Cannon reflects on the best of what songwriters can do with addiction: “not scorning the very real felt experiences that addicts report, but instead making meaning from the tense interpenetrations of artistic and therapeutic purposes.”

3. Ron Roizen, “Washington State’s Proposition 1183: Consumer Convenience or Culture and History?”: This the the post that started Ron’s series on Prop. 1183.  Timely and interesting when it appeared in October, 2011, it is still worth a read!

Prohibition in the Headlines

2. Jason Lantzer, “Burns and Novick’s Prohibtion: Lantzer on Episode Three”: The day after the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary series Prohibition ended on PSB, this concluding commentary by Jason Lantzer began drawing (and still draws) lots of views.  Readers may also wish to check out David Fahey on Episode One and Episode Two, and Frankie Bailey on Episode Two–all of which have substantial readership in their own right.

Which brings us, to channel Casey Kasem, to number one… Continue reading

Greetings From Alex Tepperman, Editorial Intern

As the weather grows colder and the salamanders that normally litter Gainesville’s sidewalks scamper into hiding from Central Florida’s bitter subtropical winter, school begins anew. Right now, a freshman at Sonoma State is trying to puzzle out what exactly this “Semiotics” thing he’s signed up for is while, at Texas A&M, a senior purchases a datebook he knows he’ll never use.  Here at Points, I’m taking over the position of Editorial Intern. Over the next five months, I’ll be handling a variety of managerial duties in addition to writing original one-off posts and a regular “Week in Review.” I’ll try to provide our readership with all manner of news tidbits and cultural artifacts.

Just in case you wanted to know a little bit about me, I’m a PhD student in the University of Florida’s Department of History. I’m also a product of the University of Toronto’s Centre for Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies. Befitting someone of my background, I have studied all manner of social problems, with addiction being a particular interest. I got my first up-close look at the intersection of addiction, class, and criminalization as an eighteen year-old intern at the Old City Hall courthouse and have continued working on these issues over the last decade. In the Spring of 2013, Oxford University Press will be publishing the third edition of Beyond The Straight and Narrow, a survey text that I’ve co-written with my father that addresses the varieties and perceptions of deviance in Canada. If you’re looking for a late Christmas gift next year, our book will make a great stocking stuffer (I’m just saying…)

Please feel free to contact me with any Points-related concerns, comments, or questions. I am also happy to discuss the singular brilliance of the Toronto Blue Jays with all interested parties. Alex Tepperman.

Old City Hall

Old City Hall Courthouse, home of the City of Toronto Drug Court (photo courtesy of