Saturday, November 7, 2015
November 7-8, 2015: Five Years!
Five years ago this week, I launched this blog. There’s plenty I could say about those five years and how the blog has developed, changed, and (I hope and believe) improved immeasurably over that time, as well as all it has meant to my scholarly writing and work, career, teaching, relationships, and life. But rather than indulge in quite that much navel-gazing, I wanted to use this anniversary to highlight instead five other blogs that have been influential and inspiring to me along the way. Some are more presently active than others, and all have been featured in this space before; but they’re all well worth your time in any case, and it’s a pleasure to highlight them once again.
1) The American Literary Blog: Despite its somewhat more specific focus, Rob Velella’s blog on 19th century American literature remains the closest parallel to my own blog that I’ve found. And much more importantly, every post is a combination of fun, informative, surprising, and engaging. A model for me to this day!
2) Civil War Memory: I don’t imagine there are many AmericanStudiers who haven’t checked out Kevin Levin’s longstanding and award-winning blog by now. But if you haven’t, you certainly should! Kevin combines responses to current events, historical scholarship, and engagement with his peers and colleagues as well as any writer I know, and in all those and other ways continues to inspire my own work.
3) Deep Down in the Classroom: Run by my former Temple University grad colleague Jessica Restaino and her colleagues at the Montclair University First Year Writing Program, Deep Down represents the best kind of pedagogical blog: practical yet philosophical, evolving yet grounded, helpful yet challenging. I’ve tried to include my teaching more and more in this space as it has grown, and it’s pedagogical blogs like Deep Down that have helped guide the way.
4) Race Files: I’ve written quite a bit in this space about my gradual move into public scholarship, and indeed no space has been more important in that evolution than this blog. As I’ve tried to engage more and more overtly here with current events and public debates, without losing the curiosity and openness and analytical engagement that I hope have been part of this blog all along, successful and multi-faceted public scholarly blogs like Race Files have been hugely inspiring to me.
5) Ta-Nehisi Coates: In the five years I’ve been writing this blog, Coates has gone from a journalist and blogger with a small but rabid following (this AmericanStudier included) to one of the most famous writers in America. But when I read his second book, Between the World and Me, it still felt very much like I was reading his blog. That’s about the highest praise I can give the book, and is a style for which I strive in my own current and future book projects as well. I’ll get there, with the help of these and many other inspiring writers and blogs!
Next series starts Monday,
PS. I’ve asked it before but will ask it again: I’d really love for you to say hi (in comments or by email) and, if you’d like, let me know a bit about what brought you to the blog, what you’d like to see here, and what your own AmericanStudies interests are. Gracias!