[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!]
35 of my favorite posts from my blog’s second year!
August 16: Me Too: In which I follow up the birthday favorites by highlighting five posts that make clear just how much I too continue to learn about America.
August 23: Virginia, Cradle of American Studies: The first post in what I believe was my first series (now of course the blog’s central format), on a few of Virginia’s American Studies connections.
September 1: First Questions: A back to school post, highlighting both the role that teaching plays in my American Studying and my (continued!) desire for your input on my topics here.
September 2: Not Tortured Enough: On torture, American ideals and realities, and how contemporary politics and overarching American questions intersect.
September 12: The Neverending Story: Perhaps the most vital American Studies response I can imagine to September 11th and its decade-long aftermath.
October 6: Native Voices: Linking the NEASA conference at Plimoth Plantation, the hardest part of my dissertation and first book, and a key American question.
October 11: Remembering an Iconoclastic Genius: One of my most important jobs here, I think, is to help us better remember important (and often inspiring) people and histories and stories that we’ve forgotten; Derreck Bell is one such person.
October 19: The Importance of Reading Ernest: Making the case for an under-read American great, and remembering to keep my literary interests present in this space at the same time.
November 7: Moments That Remain 1: The fall’s NEASA conference was one of the best weekends of my life, and it was very exciting to be able to bring a bit of it to the blog.
November 14: Kids Say the Darnedest Things 1: Of the few different ways I’ve tried to grapple with the Penn State scandal in this space, I think this series, using student voices and ideas to remember the best of what college should be, is my favorite.
November 28: Bond, Racist Bond?: It’s not easy to analyze something we love—but I tried that here, with one of my favorite films in my favorite series.
December 5: Defining Diversity: Transitioning from a topical post (one responding to other American commentators) to the continued development of my own ideas about American culture and identity.
December 12: Cross-Culture 1: It’s Not Only Rock and Roll: And then extending those ideas to one of the many different media, genres, and disciplines that American Studies helps us analyze.
December 19: Making My List 1: Memory Days: The Memory Days have become a separate and ongoing project and page here, but this is where they began.
December 29: Year in Review 4: School for Scandal: Another stab at Penn State—not searching for answers so much as highlighting some of the key American Studies questions.
January 4: Gaga for American Studies: What American Studies can help us see in and say about Lady Gaga. Enough said.
January 21: American Studies for Lifelong Learning: A series that helped me plan the spring semester, connect my teaching to this blog, and, in this case, move me toward both a new experience and what would turn out to be my third book.
January 23: Mexican American Studies: I’m maybe most proud of this series out of all that I’ve done in this space this year, and this is where it started.
February 2: The Three Acts of John Rocker: Trying to do complex justice to a figure and story that are both close to my heart (or at least the Atlanta Braves are) and easily over-simplified.
February 16: Remembering Yasuhiro Ishimoto: Another far-too forgotten figure, and a post inspired by an idea from a friend (which was the origin for the now-frequent crowd-sourced posts).
February 24: Detroit Connections: I think it’s fair to say that I hadn’t thought about this topic at all prior to coming up with the series and writing the post. That’s part of what a blog allows us to do, and while the results have to speak for themselves, I love the opportunity.
March 6: Celebrating Zitkala-Sa: The whole Women’s History series was a lot of fun, but any time I get the chance to recommend this unique and amazing author, I take it.
March 21: Balboa Park: Family vacations will never be the same, now that they’re part of my American Studying and blogging too. That’s fine by me.
March 27: Race and Danny Chen: Like the prior day’s subject, Trayvon Martin, Chen is a tragically killed American whose story we should all know and with which we have to engage.
April 4: Melville’s Confidence Man: A good reminder that both literature and laughter have their place on the blog too.
April 19: How Would a Patriot Act? Part Three: This post on the amazing and inspiring Yung Wing helped me continue developing book three.
April 26: Great American Stories, Part Four: One of the very best American short stories, by one of my very favorite authors.
May 10: Maurice Sendak: Sometimes I feel locked into a week’s series, but Sendak’s death reminded me that sometimes I need to shift gears and write about a topical and important subject.
May 29: Remembering Pat Tillman: I hope I did justice to the complexities and ambiguities in this American life and death; this remains by far my most-read post on the Open Salon version of this blog, so it seems like it struck a chord with folks.
June 2-3: Remembering or Commemorating War: Michael Kammen, Kurt Vonnegut and Clint Eastwood, and big American questions—if that’s not American Studying, what is?
June 12: Playing with America, Part 2: But this is American Studying too—analyzing some of the cultural and historical causes behind the hula hoop fad.
June 16-17: Crowd-sourced Post on Material Culture: My first crowd-sourced post, now one of my favorite aspects of the blog. Add your thoughts for this week’s!
July 6: Newton’s Histories, Part 5: To come full circle to the August 16th post, Jonathan Walker reminds me of how much I still have to learn about American history and culture.
July 27: Jennings on the Long Haul: And the inspiring life and career of Frances Jennings reminds me of why continuing to learn, study, analyze, teach, and write about America is so important and so rewarding.
Next birthday best post tomorrow,
PS. You know what to do!