Friday, August 14, 2020
August 14, 2020: Birthday Bests: 2016-2017
[On August 15th, this AmericanStudier celebrates his 43rd (and strangest) birthday. 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 43 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, 40 favorite posts from the 2016-2017 year on the blog:
1) Virginia Places: Fairfax Court House: Learning more about things I thought I already knew has been one of the blog’s enduring pleasures, and that was most definitely the case with this post and series on Virginia sites.
2) Cultural Work: Miner Texts: Any post in which I get to analyze John Sayles and Steve Earle is bound to be fun, but Diane Gillam Fisher’s Kettle Bottom might be the richest text here.
3) MusicalStudying: Allegiance and Hamilton: Perhaps not surprisingly, Hamilton has been the subject of more posts than any other text in the past year. This was the first.
4) Rhode Island Histories: Beavertail Lighthouse: Learning about things I knew precisely nothing about has been another enduring blog pleasure. Case in point here.
5) Legends of the Fall: Young Adult Lit: Returning to middle school is always a risky proposition, but I loved the chance to revisit A Separate Peace and The Chocolate War.
6) AmericanStudying The Americans: “Illegals”: Writing about one of my favorite TV shows made for a great week of posts, and this kicked them off.
7) Birth Control in America: Esther at the Doctor: I’ve taught Sylvia Plath’s The Bell-Jar many times, but analyzing it through this week’s lens offered new insights on a key sequence.
8) Black Panther Posts: Guns and Breakfasts: One of my favorite post titles, and an attempt to address the multiple, contradictory sides of an important community.
9) American Killers: Bundy and Dahmer: Not sure I would have ever imagined I’d be writing about serial killers in made for TV movies, but we go where the blog takes us!
10) ElectionStudying the Media: Ah, that halcyon final pre-election weekend. Everything may have changed the following Tuesday, but I think this post is still relevant.
11) Jeff Renye on Stranger Things: The New Weird Made Old?: A Stranger Things series concluded with this great Guest Post, and a truly inspiring student conversation in comments!
12) Thanksgiving and Supporting an Inclusive American Community: This was the first post in which I dealt directly with the election’s aftermath, and also the first in which I began to move toward my fifth book project.
13) James MonroeStudying: Remembering Monroe: A series on the 5th President concluded with these reflections on whether and how to better remember Monroe.
14) Fall 2016 Reflections: Conversations with My Sons: Maybe my favorite single post from the six and two-thirds years of blogging.
15) Basketball’s Birthday: LeBron and Activism: My sons have just gotten into the NBA in the past year, and it was fun to take a closer look at this side of the league’s biggest star.
16) 2016 in Review: The Cubs Win!: There were far more serious 2016 news stories, and I engaged with them in this end of year series as well. But c’mon, the Cubs won the Series!
17) 21st Century Ellis Islands: A 125th anniversary series concluded with three very distinct ways to connect the famous immigration station to our present moment.
18) Special Guest Post: Oana Godeanu-Kenworty on Thomas Haliburton and 19th Century Populism: Readers, take note—nothing makes me happier than when I’m contacted by someone who wants to share a Guest Post, and I was very excited at the chance to share this one!
19) Luke Cage Studying: #BlackLivesMatter on TV: A series on another great contemporary TV show concluded with this multitextual analysis.
20) NASAStudying: Sputnik and von Braun: Another example of a post for which I learned a ton, and which fundamentally shifted my perspective on the week’s subject.
21) Women and Sports: Title IX: With the groundbreaking law under siege from Trump’s Department of Education, this post is more important than ever.
22) History for Kids: Kate Milford’s The Boneshaker: The best book I read in the past year might well be this Young Adult novel the boys and I read together.
23) AmericanStudier Hearts Justified: Appalachian Action: Man, I wrote a lot this year about TV shows I love. And I’m not the slightest bit sorry!
24) Crowd-sourced Non-Favorites: The annual series concludes, as always, with my favorite crowd-sourced post of the year, the airing of grievances! Not too late to share yours!
25) CubanAmericanStudying: Desi Arnaz: On Arnaz’s 100th birthday, he helped us consider a different side to Cuban American histories.
26) AmericanStudies Events: Why We Teach at BOLLI: Expanding my adult learning opportunities has been one of the best parts of the last year. Here’s one prominent example!
27) Andrew Jackson and Donald Trump: Sometimes a planned series of my own intersects with where the public conversations are going. This was one of those times.
28) Televised Fools: Archer: I can’t say I was expecting to enjoy Archer as much as I have—but surprises are a good thing, in life and in blogging!
29) NeMLA Recaps: Forum on Immigration Executive Orders and Actions: This could be the most important thing NeMLA ever does—but it needs your help to get there!
30) Aviation Histories: Charles Lindbergh: For my own sake as much as anyone else’s, trying to dig past the controversies to recover the history behind the history.
31) Animating History: Earth Day Animations: I hadn’t thought about Captain Planet or FernGully in a couple decades. It was fun to do so again!
32) Civil Disobedience: Muhammad Ali: Commemorating anniversaries has become an important part of this blog, and the 50th of Ali’s draft resistance was an important one for sure.
33) DisasterStudying: The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake: Did you know that William James experienced and wrote about the earthquake? Me neither!
34) The Scholars Strategy Network and Me: Online Writing: This was a really fun reflection to write—and then it got picked up by John Fea’s great blog, which is even more fun!
35) Star Wars Studying: Yoda, Luke, and Love: I loved the chance to share one of the boys’ and my favorite theories about one of our favorite galaxies.
36) Matthew Teutsch’s Guest Post: Five African American Books We Should All Read: Getting to feature one of my favorite scholarly bloggers and five wonderful books made for a great Guest Post.
37) The Pulitzers at 100: Angle of Repose: I’d been looking for a chance to write about Wallace Stegner’s moving novel for a while now. It was nice to finally do so!
38) Mysterious Beach Reads: Tana French: Ditto French’s amazing series of novels—which are Irish, but AmericanStudies is large and contains multitudes.
39) Representing the Revolution: Hamilton: I promised that the smash musical would return to this list, and return it did.
40) Troubled Children: Dennis the Menace: Gotta end with another one of those posts I never would have imagined writing—and that, as always, I enjoyed a great deal. Hope you’d say the same!
Next birthday best post tomorrow,
PS. You know what to do!