Sunday, August 18, 2019
August 18, 2019: Birthday Bests: 2018-2019
[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, 42 favorite posts from the past year on the blog:
1) Cville a Year Later: I don’t imagine I’ll ever visit Cville without thinking about 2017, but last year was particularly poignant, and I tried to capture some of those thoughts in this post.
2) 21st Century Massacres and Hate Crimes: While I hope always to do justice to the distinct histories on which many of my posts focus, I’ve become increasingly insistent on connecting to our contemporary moment as well. I hope I did so compellingly here.
3) Mass Protest Studying: The Whiskey Rebellion: Some of my favorite posts are those where I know only the topic when I start, and have no idea where that topic might take me. This was one of those!
4) Tina Powell’s Guest Post on Refugee Literatures: Guest Posts remain one of my favorite parts of the blog, and this was a particularly salient one.
5) American Gay Studies: The Society for Human Rights: I could tell you that I already knew about, indeed had heard of at all, America’s first, 1920s gay rights organization—but I’d never lie to you like that, fellow AmericanStudiers.
6) Akeia Benard’s Guest Post on the New Bedford Whaling Museum: It’s been awesome to watch my friend Akeia move into her role as the Whaling Museum’s Curator of Social History, and it was just as awesome to get some of her thoughts on that work here.
7) Video Game Studying: Doom: This whole series was super fun to research and write, and this particular post brought me right back to late nights in my college dorm room.
8) GhostStudying: Haunted Sites: Do I really need to sell a Halloween post on haunted historic sites around the US???
9) Major Midterms: 1874: Another post where I learned so much, and which really pushed me to rethink narratives of 1876 and the end of Federal Reconstruction.
10) Finally, a Book Update!: On a professional level, the publication of my fifth and most public book has been by far the best thing about this past year. Still looking for any and all opportunities to talk about it this fall!
11) GettysburgStudying: Board Games: It’s always fun to revisit our childhoods and see what our analytical lenses can help us understand—and, yes, nostalgically nerd out about historical board games.
12) Pearl Harbor Histories: The Varsity Victory Volunteers: The VVV are one of my favorite stories I learned for my book, and it was great to get to share a bit of that story here.
13) Revolutionary Writings: The Crisis: I love when my teaching informs my blog and vice versa, and both directions are part of this post on Tom Paine’s pamphlet.
14) The Year in Review: Electing America: Our current political climate continues to cause much despair, but figures like Veronica Escobar, Jahana Hayes, and Deb Haaland give me reasons to hope.
15) 2019 Anniversaries: President Grant: Nuance is hard, all the time and doubly so in such a heated moment as ours. But I keep striving for it, as I hope this post exemplifies.
16) 2019 Predictions: I also strive more these days, as I said above, to connect this blog to right now. Not sure yet whether I did so accurately here, but it was fun to try!
17) Cuban American Literature: I enjoyed writing this whole Cuban American series, but engaging with three wonderful recent literary texts made for a particularly fun endpoint.
18) Crowd-sourced Af Am Life Writing: It had been too long since I got to share a crowd-sourced post, and as always my fellow AmericanStudiers had a lot of great responses & ideas!
19) Great (Sports) Debates: LeBron or Michael?: As my sons get older, conversations with them make their way onto the blog a lot more often. This was one of those times!
20) The Philippine American War: War or Insurrection?: So many huge and crucial American histories remain entirely unremembered in our collective memories. This 20-year war is certainly high on that list.
21) Movies I Love: The Opposite of Sex and You Can Count on Me: Is my annual Valentine’s series an excuse to write analytical love letters to favorite things of mine? Well, duh!
22) Crowd-sourced Non-Favorites: I don’t imagine my annual crowd-sourced Airing of Grievances needs any further introduction.
23) The Salem Witch Trials: Tituba: Inclusive American histories don’t just highlight figures and stories we need to remember—they open up so many vital contexts for understanding all of us, past and present.
24) Remembering the Alamo: A Mexican Memoir: Another one of those texts and voices I might never have learned about if it weren’t for a blog series.
25) Irish American Literature: I know, I’m always adding more compelling texts to the Must Read list. #SorryNotSorry!
26) YA Series: The Chronicles of Prydain, Revisited: One of my favorite personal threads from the past year has been watching my older son get into fantasy series I loved as a kid. That started here, with the wonderful Lloyd Alexander!
27) NeMLA 2019 Recaps: Homi Bhabha: Thanks to the great Claire Sommers, NeMLA 2019 featured this stunning keynote address. Read all about it, then submit an abstract to join us at NeMLA 2020 in Boston!
28) 80s Comedies: Airplane!: Not to get all Talking Heads on ya, but you may find yourself writing about Airplane! on your public scholarly blog, and you may ask yourself, how awesome is that??
29) StatueStudying: Christ of the Ozarks: I’m sure plenty of folks already know that there’s a 65.5 foot tall statue of Jesus in Arkansas. But I sure didn’t!
30) Patriots’ Day Texts: “This Land”: If you think I would miss any opportunity to beg you to check out Gary Clark Jr.’s song and video if you haven’t yet, well, you’d be mistaken.
31) Earth Day Studying: Animated Activisms: Not gonna lie, writing about Captain Planet and FernGully brought.me.back.
32) Rodney King in Context: Rodney King: There are lots of reasons to revisit historical moments like the Rodney King riots, but doing more justice to the human figures at their center is very high on the list.
33) Travel Writing: Sarah Kemble Knight: I’m not sure anyone who doesn’t take an American Lit survey class (or read the Norton Anthology for fun) is likely to encounter Knight’s travel narrative. That’s a shame and one I tried to remedy here.
34) As American as Blue Jeans: Jean Jackets: This was another unexpected and fun series overall, but any post that features both The Boss and Miley Cyrus is gonna show up in the Birthday Bests.
35) Jewish American Journeys: Philip Roth and Sarah Silverman: Blogging allows me to experiment with ideas, and connections, I might otherwise never think about. I think it yielded some interesting analyses here!
36) Jewish American Journeys: Michael Hoberman’s Books: Blogging also allows me to pay tribute to wonderful colleagues and scholars like Michael!
37) AmericanStudies Beach Reads: Ian Williams’s Reproduction: This whole series was a lot of fun as always, but it was especially cool to learn more about my friend Ian’s debut novel!
38) 21st Century Lit: Jericho Brown: I wrote about Brown’s inspiring Twitter page in this post, then he Retweeted my Tweet about the post and a ton more people get into the conversation. If that ain’t the best of 21C lit—well, it is, so there.
39) Alien America: Brother from Another Planet: Everybody should see John Sayles’s 1984 sci fi dramedy. I could say that about every Sayles film, but in this post I said it about that one!
40) Jeff Renye’s on The X-Files: My latest and one of my favorite Guest Posts from one of my favorite people!
41) 21st Century American Anthems: It was fun to think about which recent songs (and one recent poem) would work well as new anthems. What would you nominate?
42) Remembering Marilyn Monroe: Her American Origins: I learned a ton about Monroe in the course of researching and writing this series, one more reminder that this blog has meant a great deal to my own continued growth, day in and day out!
Annual Cville series starts Monday,
PS. You know what to do!