Thursday, August 15, 2019
August 15, 2019: Birthday Bests: 2015-2016
[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, 39 favorite posts from the 2015-2016 year on the blog:
1) Cape Cod Stories: The Changing Cape: One of my favorite things about blogging remains the chance to explore in depth topics about which I thought I knew a lot already—Cape Cod certainly qualifies, and this whole series was a wonderful reminder of how much I have to learn.
2) AmericanStudying 9/11: The Siege: I can’t imagine a work of art, in any genre, that more Americans should see and engage with in 2016 than Ed Zwick’s prescient 1998 film.
3) Given Days: The Great Molasses Flood: I never expected a Dennis Lehane novel would give me a week’s worth of topics, but The Given Day did, and this largely forgotten historical moment stands out.
4) September Texts: See You in September: Little inside blog-baseball here: sometimes I create a series and then see what might fill it. The results are always surprising, and I hope as interesting to read as they are to search and write!
5) AMST in 2015: The chance to share great AmericanStudies voices and sites is always welcome, and these three are just as worth your time in 2016!
6) Before the Revolution: Crispus Attucks: Think you know all about Mr. Attucks, first casualty of the Revolution? Well, so did I until I researched and wrote this post.
7) Siobhan Senier’s Guest Post on Dawnland Voices: Voices is one of the most important American anthologies ever published, and it was an honor to share these thoughts by its editor.
8) 21st Century Villains: Wilson Fisk: If I couldn’t write about an American character and performance as rich as Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk, why maintain this blog??
9) American Inventors: Eli Whitney’s Effects: But at the same time, the cotton gin is just as crucial to a blog called AmericanStudies as is a streaming Netflix superhero show!
10) SHA Follow Ups: Little Rock and Race: My first visit to Little Rock, for the Southern Historical Association conference, was just as inspiring as you would expect.
11) Cultural Thanks-givings: Longmire: Am I sharing this post only because I got into a Twitter conversation with Lou Diamond Phillips thanks to it? No, but that doesn’t hurt!
12) AmendmentStudying: On Not Taking the 13th Amendment for Granted: It’s not easy to really think through all the paths American history could have taken, and why each moment is so complex and central. But it’s important that we try, as I did in this post.
13) Circles of Friends: The Darker Side of Friends: It’s also not easy to critique works of art that give us pleasure, but just as important that we do so.
14) Wishes for the AmericanStudies Elves: Ida B. Wells’ Crossroads: There’s a reason this moment will be at the heart of my next book—there are few more inspiring ones in our history.
15) AmericanStudying 2015: Trump: Hard to remember the way we felt about candidate Trump back in late December—but even more crucial to AmericanStudy his unprecedented and historically horrific campaign now, of course.
16) DisneyStudying: Tom Sawyer Island: If you guessed that my first trip to Disney World would yield some rich AmericanStudies topics, well, you guessed right!
17) 21st Century Civil Rights: An MLK Day series concluded with some of the many current fronts in the ongoing battle for civil rights and equality for all.
18) Colonial Williamsburg: The Governor’s Palace Maze: There’s nothing quite like researching and writing a blog post about a favorite childhood place.
19) Football Debates: Missouri Activism Update: Our 24-hour news cycle culture moves way too quickly past stories on which we should linger—and the Missouri football team’s inspiring activism is one such story to be sure.
20) Teacher Tributes: My Fiancé: Every post in this week of teacher tributes was special to me—but this Valentine’s Day post remains one of my favorites in the blog’s history.
21) AmericanStudying Non-favorites: “Africa” and Graceland: Paul Simon fans didn’t appreciate this one so much, and I got some reasoned and convincing pushback—but I still would call Simon’s album dangerously close to cultural appropriation.
22) Rap Readings: Macklemore, J. Cole, and #BlackLivesMatter: This was a seriously fun series to think about and write, and these are songs and artists well worth your time.
23) Montreal Memories: Anglais and French: I took a lot away from my first trip to Montreal, but perhaps most striking was the multi-lingual model the city offers us in the US.
24) Puerto Rican Posts: The Statehood Debate: We’ve recently seen another troubling moment in this evolving and too-often-overlooked American history.
25) NeMLA Recaps: Many Thanks: I loved everything about my NeMLA conference in Hartford, and about writing this recap series. But I have to highlight here one more time my overwhelming gratitude for all those who made it happen and supported it.
26) 19th Century Humor: Melville’s Chimney: This deeply weird short story had stuck with me for decades, and AmericanStudying it offered some much-needed analytical therapy.
27) Remembering Reconstruction: The Civil Rights Act of 1866: The battle for whether and how we should remember Reconstruction during its sesquicentennial will likely continue for a good long while—and I fully expect to keep adding my voice to that debate.
28) American Outlaws: Bonnie and Clyde: One of those posts where I started in a totally different place from where the research and histories took me.
29) 21st Century Patriots: Deepa Iyer: Highlighting contemporary critical patriots was a lot of fun, and I’d emphasize in particular this increasingly vital new book.
30) Classical Music Icons: Florence Foster Jenkins: Before you see the Meryl Streep movie, read the Ben Railton post!
31) Semester Reflections: A Writing Associate in Major Authors: The opportunity to share inspiring favorite FSU students is always a blog highlight.
32) AmericanStudying 60s Rock: Jimi Hendrix’s Covers: From Florence Foster Jenkins to Jimi Hendrix—the six degrees of AmericanStudier!
33) New Scholarly Books: Finding Light between the Pages: You should read all the wonderful books in this series—but for my birthday week, I’ll share this one on my own forthcoming project!
34) The 1876 Election and 2016: If you need any more reason to see this election as a crucial one, history offers us a compelling such argument.
35) Crowd-sourced Beach Reads: Crowd-sourced posts are always great, but the beach reads series brings out a particularly wide and deep group of voices and nominees.
36) ApologyStudying: Lessons from Canada: It can be tough to let current events impact the blog when I’m trying to write and schedule them in advance—but it’s always worthwhile, and this post and series are great illustrations of that.
37) SummerStudying: Irony and “Summertime Sadness”: Cleanth Brooks, Emily Dickinson, T.S Eliot, and Lana Del Rey—ain’t that AmericanStudies!
38) Gone with the Wind Turns 80: Revisiting Rhett Butler: I enjoyed the chance to revisit the subject of my first article, and to see where my ideas have shifted and where they’ve endured.
39) Modeling Critical Patriotism: Frederick Douglass’ July 4th Speech: No better place to end this list than with a figure and text that offer pitch-perfect exemplification of all that I’m trying to do, here and everywhere.
Next birthday best post tomorrow,
PS. You know what to do!