My New Book!

My New Book!
My New Book!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

August 17, 2019: Birthday Bests: 2017-2018


[On August 15th, this AmericanStudier discovers the meaning of life; well, I turn 42, anyway. So as I do each year, here’s a series sharing some of my favorite posts from each year on the blog, leading up to a new post with 42 favorites from the last year. And as ever, you couldn’t give me a better present than to say hi and tell me a bit about what brings you to the blog, what you’ve found or enjoyed here, your own AmericanStudies thoughts, or anything else!]
Here they are, 41 favorite posts from the 2017-2018 year on the blog:
1)      Famous Virginians: Arthur Ashe: I enjoyed researching all the posts in last year’s post-Cville series, but this one on three influences on the legendary athlete stands out for me.
2)      #NoConfederateSyllabus: Working on this document with my colleague and friend Matthew Teutsch was a highlight of the last year—it’s still evolving, so check it out and contribute, please!
3)      Pledge Posts: Protesting the Pledge: Both of my sons have continued their acts of civil disobedience, and to say that they are now more salient than ever is to understate the case.
4)      The Worst and Best of Allegiance: Salient enough, even, that I’m highlighting a second post from that same series!
5)      Crowd-sourced Legends of the Fall: Some of the best crowd-sourced posts are those that feature multiple topics and threads, as this great one on both autumn and falls from innocence reflects.
6)      Early Civil Rights Histories: The Little Rock Nine: Better remembering American heroes like the Little Rock Nine is more crucial than ever, and here I highlighted three complementary ways we can do just that.
7)      LongmireStudying: Standing Bear: Not the last time the wonderful TV show will appear on this list!
8)      Indigenous Performers in Popular Culture: Two of these folks I knew virtually nothing about before researching this post—and the third is Graham Greene!
9)      Guest Post: Nancy Caronia on Italian Americans and Columbus Day: A complex and crucial topic, handled with thoughtfulness and passion by a colleague and friend—describes all of my great Guest Posts, and doubly so this one!
10)   Children’s Histories: The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball: A new young adult novel that can add importantly to our collective memories of the Chinese Exclusion Act era.
11)   7 Years of Scholarly Blogging: Matthew Teutsch: Connecting to fellow public scholars has been one of the very best parts of this blog for me, so I’m gonna highlight all of the posts in this week’s series to try to return that favor!
16)   Veterans Days: The Harrisburg Veterans Parade: One of those stunning moments that embodies both the worst and best of America, the exclusionary yet inclusive sides on which I’m focusing in my new book project.
17)   Curry, LeBron, and Sports in the Age of Trump: Another one of those posts that has become only (if frustratingly) more relevant since I wrote it.
18)   80s AlbumStudying: Thriller and Dualities: Any time you have the chance to write, and then to highlight, a post on Michael Jackson’s Thriller, you do so!
19)   Reconstruction Figures: The Fisk Jubilee Singers: Some of my favorite posts here have allowed me to learn a great deal more about topics for which my knowledge was shamefully lacking. This is a very good example of that phenomenon!
20)   Longmire Lessons: Walt and Cady: Back to Longmire one more time, for a (SPOILERiffic) examination of where we leave some of the show’s wonderful characters.
21)   Reviewing Resistance: Fitchburg State University: For a series on the year in #Resist, it was fun to think about some of the many ways my campus is doing its part!
22)   Gay Rights Histories: The Society for Human Rights (1924): Speaking of shamefully lacking knowledge, I knew exactly nothing about this pioneering activist organization before researching this post and series.
23)   Gay Rights Histories: Fitchburg State’s Exhibition: Much closer to now and to home, it was fun to think about why this FSU exhibit impressed me as much as it did.
24)   Famous Boy Scouts: Michael Jordan and Hank Aaron: Did you know that these two legendary but contrasting athletes were both Boy Scouts?
25)   Learning to Love Mariah Carey: My annual Valentine’s series concluded with my newfound and deep admiration for the musical icon.
26)   Anti-Favorites: The Geary Act: We really, really really, need to better remember the horrific excesses of the Chinese Exclusion Act era.
27)   Boston Massacre Studying: My Sons’ Thoughts: You didn’t think I’d miss a chance to share this Guest Post of sorts featuring my sons’ takes on the Boston Massacre, didya?
28)   Black Panther Studying: Erik Killmonger: I haven’t stopped thinking about Michael B. Jordan’s Black Panther character since I saw the film.
29)   Great American Novel Studying: Recent Contenders: There’s no such thing as The Great American Novel—but it makes for a fun debate, and an even funner way to highlight deserving books like this handful of recent classics.
30)   NeMLA Recaps: Back to the Board: I’m so glad to have returned to the Northeast MLA Board that I have to share this post on my reasons for doing so one more time!
31)   AssassinationStudying: Squeaky Fromme: Why a seemingly silly potential assassin was anything but.
32)   Scholarly Tribute: Erik Loomis: A series on the Haymarket Affair concluded with a tribute to one of our best labor historians and public scholars.
33)   Hap & Leonard Studying: Redefining Lynching: As of this writing the wonderful SundanceTV show Hap & Leonard has been cancelled—but no matter what we have three amazing seasons to return to, highlighted by season two as I detail in this post.
34)   Nursing Histories: Medal of Honor Medics: The chance to highlight a few of the amazing Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipients made for a great end to this pre-Memorial Day series.
35)   BlockbusterStudying: The Last Jedi: The latest in a series of posts through which I critique Yoda, praise Luke, and rethink the American mythos that is Star Wars.
36)   McCarthyism Contexts: McCarthy’s Lies and Rise: Joe McCarthy rose to destructive power by lying all the time, and nearly destroyed the country with his continued falsehoods. Seems worth remembering.
37)   The Supreme Court and Progress: Loving v. Virginia: Loving Day is one of my favorite American moments, and has so much to teach us about both our past and our present.
38)   Summer Class Readings: “Of the Passing of the First-Born”: This chapter from Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk is one of the toughest and most important American texts I know.
39)   Representing Race: Seven Seconds: If you haven’t yet seen this Netflix original show, I highly recommend it, for all these reasons and more.
40)   KennedyStudying: Chappaquiddick: Posts that challenge my own ideologies and perspectives are ones I always try to highlight in these series, and this one did just that.
41)   17th Century Histories: Jamestown’s First Slaves: But so too are posts that help us unearth American histories and stories we all need to better remember, which remains my #1 priority in this blog and one I can’t wait to continue in the year to come!
New birthday best post tomorrow,
Ben
PS. You know what to do!

Friday, August 16, 2019

August 16, 2019: Birthday Bests: 2016-2017


[On August 15th, this AmericanStudier discovers the meaning of life; well, I turn 42, anyway. So as I do each year, here’s a series sharing some of my favorite posts from each year on the blog, leading up to a new post with 42 favorites from the last year. And as ever, you couldn’t give me a better present than to say hi and tell me a bit about what brings you to the blog, what you’ve found or enjoyed here, your own AmericanStudies thoughts, or anything else!]
Here they are, 40 favorite posts from the 2016-2017 year on the blog:
1)      Virginia Places: Fairfax Court House: Learning more about things I thought I already knew has been one of the blog’s enduring pleasures, and that was most definitely the case with this post and series on Virginia sites.
2)      Cultural Work: Miner Texts: Any post in which I get to analyze John Sayles and Steve Earle is bound to be fun, but Diane Gillam Fisher’s Kettle Bottom might be the richest text here.
3)      MusicalStudying: Allegiance and Hamilton: Perhaps not surprisingly, Hamilton has been the subject of more posts than any other text in the past year. This was the first.
4)      Rhode Island Histories: Beavertail Lighthouse: Learning about things I knew precisely nothing about has been another enduring blog pleasure. Case in point here.
5)      Legends of the Fall: Young Adult Lit: Returning to middle school is always a risky proposition, but I loved the chance to revisit A Separate Peace and The Chocolate War.
6)      AmericanStudying The Americans: “Illegals”: Writing about one of my favorite TV shows made for a great week of posts, and this kicked them off.
7)      Birth Control in America: Esther at the Doctor: I’ve taught Sylvia Plath’s The Bell-Jar many times, but analyzing it through this week’s lens offered new insights on a key sequence.
8)      Black Panther Posts: Guns and Breakfasts: One of my favorite post titles, and an attempt to address the multiple, contradictory sides of an important community.
9)      American Killers: Bundy and Dahmer: Not sure I would have ever imagined I’d be writing about serial killers in made for TV movies, but we go where the blog takes us!
10)   ElectionStudying the Media: Ah, that halcyon final pre-election weekend. Everything may have changed the following Tuesday, but I think this post is still relevant.
11)   Jeff Renye on Stranger Things: The New Weird Made Old?: A Stranger Things series concluded with this great Guest Post, and a truly inspiring student conversation in comments!
12)   Thanksgiving and Supporting an Inclusive American Community: This was the first post in which I dealt directly with the election’s aftermath, and also the first in which I began to move toward my fifth book project.
13)   James MonroeStudying: Remembering Monroe: A series on the 5th President concluded with these reflections on whether and how to better remember Monroe.
14)   Fall 2016 Reflections: Conversations with My Sons: Maybe my favorite single post from the six and two-thirds years of blogging.
15)   Basketball’s Birthday: LeBron and Activism: My sons have just gotten into the NBA in the past year, and it was fun to take a closer look at this side of the league’s biggest star.
16)   2016 in Review: The Cubs Win!: There were far more serious 2016 news stories, and I engaged with them in this end of year series as well. But c’mon, the Cubs won the Series!
17)   21st Century Ellis Islands: A 125th anniversary series concluded with three very distinct ways to connect the famous immigration station to our present moment.
18)   Special Guest Post: Oana Godeanu-Kenworty on Thomas Haliburton and 19th Century Populism: Readers, take note—nothing makes me happier than when I’m contacted by someone who wants to share a Guest Post, and I was very excited at the chance to share this one!
19)   Luke Cage Studying: #BlackLivesMatter on TV: A series on another great contemporary TV show concluded with this multitextual analysis.
20)   NASAStudying: Sputnik and von Braun: Another example of a post for which I learned a ton, and which fundamentally shifted my perspective on the week’s subject.
21)   Women and Sports: Title IX: With the groundbreaking law under siege from Trump’s Department of Education, this post is more important than ever.
22)   History for Kids: Kate Milford’s The Boneshaker: The best book I read in the past year might well be this Young Adult novel the boys and I read together.
23)   AmericanStudier Hearts Justified: Appalachian Action: Man, I wrote a lot this year about TV shows I love. And I’m not the slightest bit sorry!
24)   Crowd-sourced Non-Favorites: The annual series concludes, as always, with my favorite crowd-sourced post of the year, the airing of grievances! Not too late to share yours!
25)   CubanAmericanStudying: Desi Arnaz: On Arnaz’s 100th birthday, he helped us consider a different side to Cuban American histories.
26)   AmericanStudies Events: Why We Teach at BOLLI: Expanding my adult learning opportunities has been one of the best parts of the last year. Here’s one prominent example!
27)   Andrew Jackson and Donald Trump: Sometimes a planned series of my own intersects with where the public conversations are going. This was one of those times.
28)   Televised Fools: Archer: I can’t say I was expecting to enjoy Archer as much as I have—but surprises are a good thing, in life and in blogging!
29)   NeMLA Recaps: Forum on Immigration Executive Orders and Actions: This could be the most important thing NeMLA ever does—but it needs your help to get there!
30)   Aviation Histories: Charles Lindbergh: For my own sake as much as anyone else’s, trying to dig past the controversies to recover the history behind the history.
31)   Animating History: Earth Day Animations: I hadn’t thought about Captain Planet or FernGully in a couple decades. It was fun to do so again!
32)   Civil Disobedience: Muhammad Ali: Commemorating anniversaries has become an important part of this blog, and the 50th of Ali’s draft resistance was an important one for sure.
33)   DisasterStudying: The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake: Did you know that William James experienced and wrote about the earthquake? Me neither!
34)   The Scholars Strategy Network and Me: Online Writing: This was a really fun reflection to write—and then it got picked up by John Fea’s great blog, which is even more fun!
35)   Star Wars Studying: Yoda, Luke, and Love: I loved the chance to share one of the boys’ and my favorite theories about one of our favorite galaxies.
36)   Matthew Teutsch’s Guest Post: Five African American Books We Should All Read: Getting to feature one of my favorite scholarly bloggers and five wonderful books made for a great Guest Post.
37)   The Pulitzers at 100: Angle of Repose: I’d been looking for a chance to write about Wallace Stegner’s moving novel for a while now. It was nice to finally do so!
38)   Mysterious Beach Reads: Tana French: Ditto French’s amazing series of novels—which are Irish, but AmericanStudies is large and contains multitudes.
39)   Representing the Revolution: Hamilton: I promised that the smash musical would return to this list, and return it did.
40)   Troubled Children: Dennis the Menace: Gotta end with another one of those posts I never would have imagined writing—and that, as always, I enjoyed a great deal. Hope you’d say the same!
Next birthday best post tomorrow,
Ben
PS. You know what to do!