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Saturday, August 19, 2023

August 19-20, 2023: Birthday Bests: 2022-2023

[On August 15th, this AmericanStudier celebrated his 46th birthday. So as I do each year, I’ve featured a series sharing some of my favorite posts from each year on the blog, leading up to this new post with 46 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, 46 favorite posts from my 13th year of AmericanStudying:

1)      August 22: Virginia Profs: Alan Feldstein: For my annual Cville series (the next of which starts when these bday posts conclude), I focused on inspiring UVa professors, starting with an impressive one from the Civil Rights era.

2)      September 5: APUSH Studying: Mrs. Frankel: It was fun to reflect on my own AP US History experiences as my older son began his, and especially to think about one of my favorite teachers of all time.

3)      September 10: Michael Walters’ Guest Post: Chaos, Order, and Progress in the First North American Nation: By far my favorite thing about this year’s bday best is that it includes the most Guest Posts ever, starting with this excellent one from Michael Walters.

4)      September 17-18: War is Hella Funny: M*A*S*H: For the 50th anniversary of the TV show’s pilot, I learned a lot about the novel and film as well as that iconic show.

5)      September 24-25: Faulkner at 125: Digital Yoknapatawpha: I couldn’t end a series for Faulkner’s 125th birthday without paying tribute to my Dad Steve Railton’s third and most impressive digital humanities project.

6)      September 28: Asian American Leaders: Patsy Mink: On the 20th anniversary of Patsy Mink’s passing, I really enjoyed the chance to learn more about just how impressive and influential her political career was.

7)      October 1-2: Kelly Marino’s Guest Post: The “American Queen”: “Sweetheart” Bracelets, Jewelry Trends, and the World Wars: The next of those many great Guest Posts featured Kelly Marino on all we can learn from material culture.

8)      October 3: Bad Presidents: James Buchanan: My bad presidents series ended where you’d expect, but it also allowed me to think through some of the worst of his predecessors, starting with a very competitive entrant in the category.

9)      October 8-9: Anita Siraki’s Guest Post on Interview with the Vampire: The awesome Guest Posts rolled on with Anita Siraki on a new TV adaptation of Anne Rice.

10)   October 11: RunningStudying: The Boston Marathon: Despite living in the Boston area for the majority of my 46 years, I still had a lot to learn about its iconic road race.

11)   October 15-16: RunningStudying: Aidan Railton’s Guest Post on Strava: All the year’s Guest Posts were fantastic, but nothing can top sharing my older son’s writing for the first time!

12)   October 18: HUAC Histories: The Blacklist: One of my favorite things to do on the blog is take a subject I and we know a bit about and add a ton more detail and context, which I felt I was able to do throughout this series on HUAC and McCarthyism.

13)   October 28: PBS People: Bob Ross: But another favorite thing is to blog about topics I never imagined I’d be writing about, and the peaceful painter Bob Ross is high on that list.

14)   November 5-6: Anya Jabour’s Guest Post on Legionnaire’s Disease: The next excellent Guest Post, Anya Jabour contextualizing a very challenging medical crisis.

15)   November 12-13: 12 Years of AmericanStudying: My Reflections: The best part of my annual anniversary series is the chance to reflect on all that this blog and you all have meant to me.

16)   November 17: Public Art: The Harriet Wilson Statue: There’s so much amazing public art in New England, and one of my favorite is Southern New Hampshire’s tribute to Harriet Wilson.

17)   November 19-20: Lily Hart’s Guest Post on Voices of the River: It’s especially cool to share Guest Posts from folks who reached out to me, and that was the case with Lily Hart and this post on a vital new journal and project.

18)   November 25: Thanks-givings: Young Voters: My Thanksgiving posts this year were short but sweet, and none sweeter nor more significant than my tribute to the youthful voters who saved the 2022 election and just might save us all.

19)   December 7: Constitutional Contexts: Delaware: For the 235th anniversary of Delaware’s historic ratification of the Constitution, it was fun to contextualize that crucial moment.

20)   December 19-25: A Defining Wish: For this year’s wish for the AmericanStudies Elves, I focused on a defining hope for both the blog and America.

21)   December 28: 2022 in Review: Hot Girl Music: I’d be lying if I said I ever expected to blog about Nicki Minaj and Lizzo—but that’s one of many reasons why I keep doing this!

22)   January 5: 2023 Anniversaries: 1923 and Hollywood: Did you know that the Hollywood sign and Disney Studios debuted in the same year?

23)   January 7-8: Einav Rabinovitch-Fox’s Guest Post on Senatorial Fashion: The next compelling Guest Post featured fashion historian Einav Rabinovitch-Fox on John Fetterman’s suit.

24)   January 14-15: Five Years of Considering History: Two Tributes and a Request: I enjoyed the chance to look back on my first five years writing for the Saturday Evening Post, culminating in this tribute to my editor, a loyal reader, and you all!

25)   January 24: AbortionStudying: Sarah Grosvenor: I don’t normally feature two posts from the same series, but in this case the pairing of one 18th century historical figure...

26)   January 26: AbortionStudying: Dirty Dancing: … and one late 20th century romantic film reflects the breadth I’m really trying for on the blog. 

27)   January 30: Travel Stories: Around the World in Eighty Days: On the 150th anniversary of Jules Verne’s novel, it was fun to think about three American figures who inspired or tried out the travel feat.

28)   February 11-12: Football (and Sports) Studiers: After Guest Posts, my second favorite thing to share on the blog is tributes to fellow AmericanStudiers—like this list of folks doing great work in Sports Studies.

29)   February 16: Songs I Love: “The Barka-Darling River”: Discovering an amazing new album from an all-time favorite band was one of the best parts of 2022, so I was glad to share one of those songs in my Valentine’s series.

30)   February 18-19: Hettie Williams’ Guest Post on Black Writers & AIDS: Returning Guest Posters are a particular delight, and so I was very glad to share another from Hettie Williams.

31)   February 25-26: Crowd-sourced Non-favorites: My favorite crowd-sourced post of the year didn’t disappoint, with lots of righteous airing of grievances.

32)   March 1: Temperance Milestones: Three Reformers: Yes, the anti-masturbation inventor of the Graham Cracker stands out, but all three of these 19th century temperance reformers are compelling subjects.

33)   March 8: American Cars: Rebel Without a Cause: I don’t get to stretch my close reading muscles too often in this case, but I always love when I do, as was the case here with the iconic “chicken run” scene from the James Dean film.

34)   March 17: Wild West Stories: True Grit: And the close readings continued with an in-depth examination of Charles Portis’ excellent 1968 novel.

35)   March 25-26: Bruce in 2023: Getting to see Springsteen in concert with my sons was a life highlight, and the fact that the whole show was about aging and memory, loss and persistence, the past and the future? So much better still.

36)   April 15-16: Remembering Reconstruction: Kidada Williams’ I Saw Death Coming: Another favorite thing is to get to highlight scholarly books, and one of the best of the year to date is Kidada Williams’ history of Reconstruction.

37)   April 17: Soap Opera Studying: 1930s Origins: If you’re like me, you probably haven’t heard of any of these five pioneering women—so read the post and rectify the situation!

38)   May 5: Hemispheric Histories: The Panama Canal: There have been conversations and efforts toward a waterway through Panama for nearly 200 years, and I enjoyed tracing that history through three treaties.

39)   May 19: Watergate Figures: Jill Wine-Volner: This post on one of Watergate’s most prominent investigators was already a favorite, and then she generously shared and responded it to Twitter and took it to the next level.

40)   May 27-28: Barrett Beatrice Jackson’s Guest Post on Norman Rockwell, Robert Butler, and Her Grandfather: The last of the Guest Posts in this list was this fun one from Barrett Beatrice Jackson—make sure to propose your own to keep the series going!

41)   June 6: Environmental Activisms: Mardy Murie: There are countless impressive and inspiring Americans to learn about, including the “Grandmother of the Conservation Movement.”

42)   June 12: Women in War: The Women’s Armed Services Integration Act: We definitely need to better remember Truman’s 1948 racial integration of the US Armed Forces—but we likewise have to add this vital gender integration law from the same year.

43)   June 29: Germany and America: The German American Bund: A series inspired by Kennedy’s inspiring Berlin speech turned to one of the most horrific & telling moments in American history, the February 1939 Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden.

44)   July 17: Seneca Falls Studying: Quaker Communities: It was really fun to learn more about the Seneca Falls Convention--& its very surprising origins in particular—for this 175th anniversary series.

45)   July 26: Korean War Studying: Films: Did you know that more than 20 Korean War films were released between 1951 and 1953? Here are three that help us see how that cultural genre evolved.

46)   August 4: SiblingStudying: The Eaton Sisters: No American siblings inspired me more than Edith Maude & Winifred Eaton.

Annual Cville series starts Monday,


PS. You know what to do!

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