Shorter post today, as I used up most of my 1000 words for the day—actually, pretty much exactly that number; I came it at 997 with a 1000-word max!—on something I just sent off, a draft of my first scholarly book review. The journal American Literature asked me if I would write a review essay on two recent books, James Salazar’s Bodies of Reform: The Rhetoric of Character in Gilded Age America (2010) and Andrew Taylor’s Thinking America: New England Intellectuals and the Varieties of American Identity (2010), and I was both honored to be asked and very excited to write the review. It’s only a draft that I’ve submitted, and the actual review won’t appear until the winter at the earliest, so I shouldn’t say too much about it in any specific way here. But I did want to make sure to highlight these two great books, and more exactly two interconnected lessons that I’ve taken away from the whole experience:
1) I still have a lot to learn about America! My dissertation and first book focused on the same decades and period (the Gilded Age) at the heart of these two works, yet I can safely say that I learned something (and really many things) new and significant in every chapter of both books. As I wrote in the review, reading both books mostly made me want to put them in conversation, and to learn and understand more about their focal points and American identity through them; but that’s not even vaguely a bad thing, and instead a great reminder that I can and should read more works by my fellow American Studies scholars. Of course I’ll keep reading and thinking about the primary texts (in all media) as well, but there’s a ton of great American Studies work being done out there, and I pledge today to learn more about, and from, it.
2) And as I do, I pledge as well to share at least some of those great works and voices with you, dear readers. I’m not going to set a definite schedule for when these scholarship-highlighting posts will appear—we’ve all seen how that’s gone with the Guest Posts; and speaking of, if you haven’t gotten me one of those yet, whether I’ve asked you or not, please feel free and very encouraged to do so!—but I promise to slot them in at least every couple of weeks, both to hold me to the first pledge (of reading more scholarly works) and to add these voices and ideas into this here AmericanStudies mix.
In the meantime, don’t wait for my review to appear—check out those two books, or at least check out their very impressive and interesting authors at the links below. More tomorrow,
PS. Three links to start with:
1) Professor Salazar: http://www.temple.edu/english/people/faculty/salazar.html
2) Professor Taylor: http://www.englit.ed.ac.uk/staff_profiles/taylor.htm
3) OPEN: Any book recommendations?