[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!]
Here they are, 43 favorite posts from the past year on the blog:
August 23: Cville Influences: Satyendra Huja: It was fun to learn more about and share the story of a quietly pivotal figure from my Cville childhood.
September 2: Academic Labor: Adjunctification: In place of my annual fall preview series, for my sabbatical I wanted to think through the (now even more) crucial issues around academic labor, starting with the most fraught and fundamental such issue.
September 7-8: Academic Labor: Hire Jeff Reyne!: Sometimes the blog gets especially personal, and this was one such example. I stand by every word!
September 9: Slave Rebellions: The Stono Rebellion: This whole series was one of those from which I learned a great deal through the research and writing, and that was doubly true of the South Carolina revolt that provided the anniversary around which the series centered.
September 26: AmericanStudy a Banned Book: Heather Has Two Mommies: Some of my favorite posts are those on topics I literally had never thought about (at least not in an analytical context) until the series called for it. This one on a ground-breaking 1989 children’s book fits that description to a T.
October 2: Recent Reads: There There: Let’s just say this post’s main point, about necessary challenges to my critical optimism, has come to feel all too prescient as 2020 has unfolded.
October 21: The 1850 Women’s Rights Convention: Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis: I’m not sure how I went so long without knowing that the first national women’s rights convention was held in Worcester, but it was a lot of fun to learn about that convention and some of its pivotal figures.
October 26-27: Ariella Archer’s Guest Post: My Scary Thoughts: The Evolution of Three Horror Genres: Guest Posts remain my favorite part of the blog, and Ariella’s made for perfect Halloween week reading!
November 6: 9 Years of AmericanStudier: Sharing Your Voices: Speaking of, some anniversary week reflections on the best part of the blog (and how you can add your voice to it!).
November 16-17: Kent Rose’s Guest Post: How I Got to Nelson Algren: And the Guest Post trifecta concludes with singer-songwriter Kent Rose on an under-appreciated American novelist.
November 23-24: Teaching Local Color: Between fall sabbatical and the clusterfuck that was spring 2020, teaching has sure felt different over the last year—but it remains a key focus of my AmericanStudying, as of every aspect of my career and life.
December 11: 50s Musical Icons: Patti Page: Did you know that Page was the 50s top-charting and best-selling female artist? I didn’t until researching this fun post.
December 16: Book Talk Recaps: Temple Graduate English Program: My whole fall of We the People book talks was wonderful, but this return to my grad program was a special treat.
December 20: Book Talk Recaps: The Boston Athenaeum: But just as special in its own way was the chance to talk in this beautiful, historic space.
January 6: AmericanStudying Unbelievable: Sexual Assault: I’ve watched a ton of great TV over the last year, but at the top of the list is this Netflix original police show that’s also so much more.
January 25-26: 21st Century Voices of Civil Rights: I loved the chance to highlight a handful of the many activists, writers, and scholars who inspire my work every day.
January 31: Sports and Politics: The Nationals at the White House: Ah, those halcyon days when a controversial appearance by the World Series champs seemed like big news.
February 3: Immigration Laws: 19th Century Origins: Another of those whole series from which I learned a ton and which helped me continue thinking through a topic of central interest (to me and all of us).
February 15-16: Fantasy Stories I Love: African Fantasy: Although my spring semester didn’t go the way I hoped (to understate the case), it was still great to read and teach Kai Ashante Wilson’s Sorcerer of the Wildeeps as part of my larger engagement with African and African American fantasy.
February 22-23: Crowd-sourced Non-Favorites: Always one of my favorite posts of the year, and this year’s didn’t disappoint!
February 24: Leap Years: 1816: I was 42 years old when I learned about the Year without a Summer, but, as with everything I write about on the blog, better late than never!
March 2: Boston Sites: The Freedom Trail: The series led to some interesting, ongoing conversations with both the various historic sites and my old friend Nat Sheidley, now CEO of Revolutionary Spaces!
March 9: Last Week Recaps: SSN Boston and 2020 in Massachusetts: I had no idea the first week of March would be the last “normal” week of the year for me, but it was also a wonderfully full week for events, including this vital part of SSN Boston’s ongoing work.
March 18: StoweStudying: New England Local Color: I’ve strayed pretty far from my first book and my English PhD roots, but many of those subjects remain central to my AmericanStudying nonetheless. This post offers a great example!
March 23: AmericanStudying the Deuce: Lori, Emily Meade, and Exploitation: Some posts practically write themselves, and that was the case with this exploration of one of my favorite TV characters and performances of the last few years.
April 4-5: Dolemite is … the Subject of This Post: Another wonderful character and performance, and a lot of important cultural and American history to boot.
April 10: Poets We Should All Read: Robin Jewel Smith’s Suggestions: My favorite post in my National Poetry Month series was this group of contemporary poetry suggestions from one of our most talented young poets!
April 18-19: 21st Century Arab American Writers: Along those same lines, I ended my National Arab American Heritage Month series by highlighting a handful of our many talented and vital contemporary authors.
April 22: Models of Critical Patriotism: “Eulogy on King Philip”: Critical patriotism is a central subject of my next book, and I know few better examples than William Apess’s stunning speech.
May 5: American Epidemics: Yellow Fever: My first series to address directly our new 2020 realities, and a post on how such realities have influenced America since our origins.
May 11: Spring 2020 Tributes: Lisa Gim and My English Studies Department: I replaced my annual Spring semester recaps with a series of heartfelt tributes to those who helped me get through this toughest semester of my career—none more heartfelt than this one.
May 16-17: Spring 2020 Reflections: And I ended that series with a few of my own thoughts on teaching during COVID-19, which I hope might be useful for all of us as we continue navigating those uncharted waters.
May 19: LibraryStudying: The Boston Public Library: Did you know that a French ventriloquist was a key factor in the development of the BPL? Me neither until I researched this post!
June 4: MassMedia Studying: The March of Time and Newsreels: The prominence and influence of early 20th century newsreels remain under-appreciated, and I hope this post (like the new book I cite in it) might help change that conversation.
June 12: Portsmouth Posts: The Black Heritage Trail: A rare locked-down road trip with my sons led me to this series on the many histories and stories around the Portsmouth (NH) waterfront.
June 22: BoschStudying: Harry: One of my most recent TV binges was Amazon’s original cop drama Bosch, which inspired this series on the show’s five central characters.
July 4-5: Patriotism’s Contested Histories: Update on Of Thee I Sing!: A July 4th series on the subject of my next book concludes with an update on that forthcoming project (now with a beautiful cover pictured above!).
July 6: Presidential Medals of Freedom: 1963 Recipients: It was fun to look back through the 50+ year history of our highest civilian honor, starting with this post on some of the first recipients.
July 13: AmericanStudying Watchmen: Tulsa: When I finally got to watch HBO’s Watchmen, it more than led up to the hype, and it was fun to revisit the show for this week of posts.
July 18-19: AmericanStudying Watchmen: Student Perspectives: And especially fun was the chance to share a few of my Spring 2020 Sci Fi/Fantasy course’s many great student takes on the Watchmen graphic novel!
July 30: Great Movie Speeches: Jaws: I try to remain open to where historic anniversaries might take me—and the anniversary of the USS Indianapolis tragedy led me to this series on great movie speeches, featuring Quint’s masterful monologue.
July 31: Great Movie Speeches: The American President: But also featuring one of the clearest and most inspiring statements of critical patriotism I’ve ever encountered, President Andrew Shepherd’s riveting press conference speech.
August 5: Military Massacres: Balangiga: Chances are most of my readers haven’t heard of this Philippine American War massacre, which speaks to a large problem of collective memory that I hope posts like this can help address.
This year's bday post tomorrow,
PS. You know what to do!