[On August 15th, this AmericanStudier celebrates his 44th 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 44 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!]
In honor of my 38th birthday, 38 favorite posts from 2014-2015 on the blog!
1) August 18: Films for the Dog Days: Dog Day Afternoon: A part of a sweltering summer series, I analyzed the gritty crime drama that’s sneakily subversive.
2) September 5: Fall Forward: A New Teaching Challenge: My Fall 2014 semester included a brand new course on a brand new (to me) topic, and that was a very good thing.
3) September 11: More Cville Stories: Fry’s Spring: Four exemplary stages to the Virginia hotspot where I spent many a summer’s day.
4) September 15: Country Music and Society: Gender and Identity: On Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and gender-bending in one of our most traditional cultural genres.
5) September 23: Women and War: Rosie the Riveter: Two ways to complicate and enrich our collective memories of an enduring American icon.
6) October 8: AmericanStudying Appalachia: Murfree’s Mountains: An AppalachianStudying series gave me a chance to write about one of our most complex and talented authors.
7) October 25-26: De Lange Follow Ups: My Fellow Tweeters: My whole experience as a Social Media Fellow at the De Lange Conference was amazing, and I’d love for you to check out the weeklong series of follow ups. But I can’t not focus on my amazing fellow Fellows!
8) October 29: AmericanSpooking: The Birds and Psycho: For my annual Halloween series, I considered defamiliarization, horror, and prejudice.
9) November 7: Exemplary Elections: 1994: My election week series ended with this highly influential recent election—and with this Lawyers, Guns, and Money post discussing and greatly amplifying my own thoughts.
11) November 28: 21st Century Thanks: E-Colleagues: A Thanksgiving series concludes with five colleagues I haven’t had the chance to meet in person, yet!
12) December 3: AmericanWinters: The Blizzard of 78: Two AmericanStudies contexts for an epic winter storm (which little did I know in December we’d end up surpassing in terms of total Boston snowfall in one winter!).
13) December 13-14: Andrea Grenadier’s Guest Post on Charles Ives: Another great year for Guest Posts, including this gem from Andrea on a difficult and important composer.
14) December 24: AmericanWishing: Chesnutt’s “Wife”: Charles Dickens, one of my favorite American short stories, and holiday introspection were on my wish list this year.
15) December 31: End of Year Stories: The Immigration Debate: Two online pieces of mine that have contributed to an ongoing political and American debate.
16) January 6: Waltham Histories: The Waverly Trail: Three profoundly American moments in the history of a beautiful natural wonder.
17) January 20: MLK Stories: Selma: What’s important and inspiring, and what’s a bit more problematic, about the wonderful recent film.
18) January 26: AmericanStudying Sports Movies: Bad News Bears and Boys: A Super Bowl series starts with our obsession with lovable losers.
19) February 2: American Conspiracy Theories: Roswell: Historical and cultural contexts for one of our craziest American conspiracy theories.
20) February 20: American Studying Non-Favorites: Low Five: Five historical figures with whom I have a bone—or a whole skeleton—to pick!
21) February 26: Western Mass. Histories: The Bridge of Flowers: Three evocative stages of a unique Massachusetts landmark.
22) March 2: Forgotten Wars: The Second Barbary War: The anniversary of a forgotten Early Republic conflict inspired this post and series on wars we should better remember.
23) March 14-15: All That Crowd-sourced Jazz: Crowd-sourcing at its finest, with fellow AmericanStudiers adding wonderful nominations to my week’s series on jazz.
24) March 24: American Epidemics: The Measles: An all-too-timely post, on three stages in the history of a frustratingly persistent disease.
25) April 2: April Fools: Minstrel Shows: What we do with comic art that’s just not funny any more.
26) April 6: Baseball Lives: Hank Greenberg: Why we should remember one of our greatest Jewish American athletes—and an inspiring icon.
27) April 18-19: Crowd-sourced Reading List: Another great crowd-sourced post, this one on nominations for an AmericanStudies reading list.
28) April 27: Communist Culture: “The Palace-Burner”: What one of my favorite American poems can teach us about difference, empathy, and identity.
29) May 11: Semester Conclusions: I Can’t Breathe: Remembering one of my most radical classroom moments, and why it wasn’t.
30) May 19: BlockbusterStudying II: Ghostbusters: Science, the supernatural, and Weird Tales in one of our funnier and more original summer blockbusters.
31) May 26: Decoration Day Histories: Frederick Douglass: As part of a series on Memorial Day’s origins, I highlighted Douglass’s amazing 1871 Decoration Day speech.
32) June 2: Mount Auburn Connections: Blanche Linden: Three inspiring sides to a hugely influential AmericanStudier, scholar, and teacher.
33) June 12: North Carolina Stories: Moral Mondays: Two historical parallels for the crucial contemporary protests and activism.
34) June 19: AmericanStudies Beach Reads: A Tragic, Compelling Life: Why we should get serious at the beach, and the perfect book to help us do so.
35) June 26: Gordon Parks and America: Portrait Photos and the Past: A series inspired by a wonderful (and ongoing) MFA exhibit concludes with some thoughts on what portraits can’t teach us about the past, and what they can.
36) July 1: The 4th in Focus: Fireworks: The history, symbolism, and limitations of an American holiday tradition.
37) July 11-12: Samuel Southworth’s Guest Post: In Honor of the 150th Anniversary of the US Secret Service: In my most recent Guest Post, Sam considers the organization’s history, role, and importance, with a fascinating foonote in comments to boot.
38) July 20: Billboard #1s: “I’ll Never Smile Again”: A series on Billboard hits starts with what’s hugely different about 1940’s #1 hit, and what’s not so different at all.
Next birthday best post tomorrow,
PS. You know what to do!