[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:
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.
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
7-8: Academic Labor: Hire Jeff Reyne!: Sometimes the blog gets especially
personal, and this was one such example. I stand by every word!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!).
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
22-23: Crowd-sourced Non-Favorites: Always one of my favorite posts of the
year, and this year’s didn’t disappoint!
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!
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!