[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, 44 favorite posts from the past year of AmericanStudying:
1) August 24: Katrina at 15: Nature or Nuture?: I always enjoy posts that get me way out of my comfort zone, and writing about meteorology to kick off this anniversary series definitely did the trick.
2) August 31: Fall Semester Previews: A Policy of Care: I sure wasn’t happy with much about how the last academic year went—but I stand by everything I wrote in this post, and am so glad I made this my priority for each and every student.
3) Special Post: The Rock Springs Massacre and Working-Class White Supremacist Violence: Think this is the only time I’ve ever shared a piece outside the blog’s daily operations; it didn’t end up running for my Saturday Evening Post column, so you got it here!
4) September 9: History through Games: Careers: Every piece in this series was a ton of fun to write, but none more so than this trip through American history and culture via the board game Careers.
5) September 19-20: Nazis in America: Project Paperclip and Hunters: I learned a whole lot while researching and writing this series, all inspired by watching the problematic but compelling Amazon original show Hunters.
6) September 26-27: Crowd-sourced AutumnStudying: I won’t include every crowd-sourced post from the last year in this list—but I could, because I love love love every one of them.
7) October 5: Recent Reads: How Much of These Hills is Gold: Gotta highlight two posts from this series of book recommendations: this one, on the best novel I read last year…
8) October 9: Recent Reads: Susie King Taylor’s Memoir: And this one, on a favorite historical source I found (and about which I ended up recording a whole podcast episode as well!).
9) October 15: Confederate Memory: The Shaaras: Revisiting childhood favorites through an analytical lens is never easy, but it sure is important, especially when it comes to topics like Civil War memory.
10) October 24-25: The World in 2020: If you look back through these bday lists, you’ll see that I hardly ever directly engaged current events in the blog’s early years. That’s been one main thread of my public scholarly evolution, as this post illustrates.
11) October 31-November 1: Robin Field’s Guest Post on Toni Morrison & the Rape Novel: Also might not highlight every Guest Post in this list, which is a sign of the very nice fact that I had more than ever before in this past year. (If you want to write one, you know what to do!)
12) November 9-13: AmericanStudies’ 10th Anniversary and Online Public Scholarship: Once again gotta highlight a couple interconnected posts, these anniversary reflections…
13) November 14-15: Anniversary Acknowledgments: And these anniversary, heartfelt thanks!
14) November 21-22: Laura E. Franey’s Guest Post on The Keepers: I do have to highlight this Guest Post as well, since they rarely line up so perfectly and thoughtfully with the whole week’s series as Laura’s great post did!
15) November 27: Book Thanksgivings: Y’all: Having a book coming out is a chance to thank so many folks, and I hope you’ll read every post in this series. But if you read just one, make it the one dedicated to you!
16) December 5-6: AIDS and COVID: I could have written many more posts about COVID than I did, and I think that was the right call. But this series concluder made sense, and helped me think through some historical contexts and contrasts.
17) December 19-20: Crowd-sourced Fall 2020 Reflections: I value all my semester reflections, and I hope you’ll check them out. But this was a year for community and solidarity, so here’s a small expression of those more vital than ever goals.
18) December 26-27: AmericanWishing: My Sons: Do I really need to say any more than that title?
19) December 28: Year in Review: Race, Memory, and Justice: 2021 has shaped up to be even more defined by those themes as 2020 was.
20) January 4: Hope-full Texts: “A Long December”: Not sure I ever would have predicted that I’d get to write about my favorite Counting Crows song in this space. Very glad I was wrong!
21) January 17: Emily Hamilton-Honey’s Hope-full Guest Post: I think this is a first for the blog—an online friend and fellow AmericanStudier read a series and crowd-sourced post and had so many thoughts that it turned into a Guest Post!
22) January 21: MLK Histories: Where Do We Go from Here?: We all have a lot more to learn about and from MLK; for me, this final book of his was a striking case in point.
23) February 6-7: Sports in 2021: Revolutionary Change: I think it’s fair to say sports have and haven’t lived up to this potential over the last six months—but there’s still time!
24) February 13-14: Short Stories I Love: Ilene Railton’s Stories: If you thought I wouldn’t share this Valentine’s series post, well, you were sorely mistaken.
25) February 20-21: Crowd-sourced Non-Favorites: The annual crowd-sourced airing of grievances didn’t disappoint!
26) February 27-28: Adam Golub’s Guest Post on Creativity and American Studies: Adam was one of my first online AMST colleagues (and Twitter follows), and it was a joy to finally get to share a bit of his work in this Guest Post.
27) March 8: Spring Break Films: Spring Break: Like most universities, we didn’t get a Spring Break this year—but I took us all down to sunnier climes through this fun series, starting with this (rightfully) forgotten 80s film.
28) March 13-14: Of Thee I Sing Update!: Of Thee I Sing was published on March 15, so I kicked off a series on its central concepts and my book talk plans with this special post (I hope you’ll check out the whole series, as well as this page with talks, podcasts, etc.!).
29) March 29: Key & Peele Studying: Negrotown: Dedicating my annual April Fool’s series to my favorite sketch comedy duo was a very good and very fun idea.
30) April 6: NeMLA Recaps: Grace Sanders Johnson’s Talk: I enjoyed everything about this year’s virtual NeMLA conference, and hope you’ll check out the whole recaps series—but Grace’s talk was one of the most inspiring I’ve ever heard.
31) April 21: RadioStudying: Alan Freed: If you’re like me, you know the name Alan Freed largely if not solely through the payola scandal. Suffice to say, there’s a lot more to the man and his legacies than that!
32) April 24-25: Kate Jewell’s Guest Post: A Love Letter to College Radio: I’ve team-taught numerous AmericanStudies with Kate, which means I was super excited to finally feature a Guest Post from her and just as excited to share it with you again here!
33) May 8-9: Victoria Scavo’s Guest Post on Gender Roles in Italian American Culture & Literature: Fine, maybe I am gonna share most of the year’s Guest Posts. They’re just all unique and meaningful—like this one, from an undergraduate student of my friend and her fellow Guest Poster Robin Field!
34) May 10: Spring 2021 Moments: Jericho Brown and the Power of Poetry: This Spring was the toughest semester of my teaching career, but even amidst all that there were moments of grace and inspiration. This one really stood out.
35) May 18: Small Axe and America: Remembering Reggae: It was fun thinking about how to apply Steve McQueen’s wonderful film series about West Indian English communities to AmericanStudying. This was my favorite in the series.
36) May 29-30: Sarah Satkowsi’s Guest Post on T.C. Boyle: You knew I couldn’t share one Guest Post from a student of Robin Field’s and not the other!
37) June 5-6: A Memorial Day Tribute: War and patriotism are two topics it’s easy to caricature—but both, individually and especially together, can and should be commemorated, just not in the ways we far too often have and do.
38) June 11: Basketball Stories: WNBA Stars: The ad campaign for the new WNBA season was about how we should all be ashamed we haven’t been watching. Not sure about it as a marketing strategy, but, well, it’s damn accurate.
39) June 14: American Whistleblowers: Daniel Ellsberg: For the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers, this post got Twitter engagement from none other than Ellsberg himself!
40) June 28: Talking Of Thee I Sing: GCE Lab School: It’s been a great Spring of book talks and conversations about my new book, and I’d love for you to check out this whole series and then suggest some more such opportunities, please!
41) July 10-11: Pop Culture Workers: Another very fun post to plan and write, from John Sayles to Hustlers and a lot of work and works in between.
42) July 20: Expanding Histories: United States v. Burr: I’ve long professed my love for Burr, so this was a tough but important look at the seedier sides of US history to which he so fully connects.
43) July 26-August 1: AmericanStudiers to Highlight: Gonna cheat and make this whole series one highlight, as you should really check out all these great folks & voices (including Hettie Williams’ Guest Post on the weekend, natch)!
44) August 2: AmericanStudies Websites: Steve Railton’s Trio: I could say the same about all the websites in this series; but I can’t help but single out this filial focus.
Brief Cville series starts tomorrow,
PS. You know what to do!