[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!]
For my 36th birthday I highlighted 36 of my favorite posts from the blog’s third year:
1) Bad Memories, Part Four: As part of a series on how we could better remember our darkest histories, I considered memoir, photography, and fiction of the Japanese Internment.
2) Crowd-Sourcing Bad Memories: Perhaps my favorite of the crowd-sourced posts to date, as many fellow AmericanStudiers weighed in on the week’s theme.
3) Books That Shaped AmericanStudier, Childhood: I began a series on books that have hugely impacted me with one of my first favorites, the Hardy Boys series.
4) Isabella Stewart Gardner: A Gardner Museum-inspired series began with a post on Gardner herself, one of my favorite Americans.
5) John Singer Sargent: Posts on Gardner and Sargent go together as perfectly as, well, Gardner and Sargent did!
6) Augustus Saint-Gaudens: Any post that allows me to write more about the greatest American sculptor, and one of the most inspiring Americans period, is well worth sharing again.
7-11) The five posts in this series on American hope remain perhaps my most definitive statements of the complexities, contexts, and crucial importance of this elusive emotion.
12) Up in the Air, Part Five: Summer camps, childhood memories, and nostalgia—one of my more universal and, I believe, broadly relevant posts.
13) Ezra Jack Keats: This post, in a series on children’s books, expressed the importance of this pioneering author—and was linked to by the Keats Foundation!
14-18) Another series in which I need to highlight all five posts—this has been the longest and hardest year of my life, and writing these posts on how Americans have responded to adversity helped me get through it.
19) American Spooking, Part 3: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Grant Wood, and American Horror Story help me think about whether America can have homegrown horror, and where we might find it.
20) Extra Thanks: A Thanksgiving series concludes with a few reflections on one of my most unexpected and inspiring moments of the year.
21) American Winter, Part Four: The very different but equally American perspectives at the heart of two winter classics.
22) AmericanStudying the Pacific, Part Four: On the limitations and lessons of a childhood spent building models.
23) Lincoln, Culture, and History: Some of my thoughts on Steven Spielberg’s popular and important historical film (with this additional post after I saw it!).
24) Making My List (Again), Part Five: A series of wishes for the AmericanStudies Elves ends with the educational experience I wish all children could have.
25) AmericanStudying Our Biggest Issues: Climate Change: As I’ve shifted more fully to an emphasis on public scholarship, I’ve worked hard to find ways to connect my subjects to contemporary concerns—and this post exemplifies that goal.
26) American Homes, Part Four: The American narratives inside (perhaps deep inside) one of our silliest films.
27) Remembering Wheatley and Washington: A Black History Month series on conversations begins with the time the poet met the (future) president.
28) I Love Three Pages in Ceremony: I’ve always wanted to write about my single favorite moment in American fiction. Here I did!
29) Popular Fiction: Christian Novels: It’s always fun to write (and so learn) about subjects I myself know too little about, and this post definitely qualifies.
30) Supreme Contexts: Santa Clara County and Revision: Few Supreme Court decisions are as relevant to our contemporary moment, and thus worth remembering, as this one.
31) Spring in America: Children’s Stories: Two pioneering children’s classics that captures two opposing sides to a new season.
32) Baseball in America: The Black Sox: This whole baseball series was fun to research and write, so I’ll just highlight one of its posts (yes, the one that includes John Sayles!).
33) Comic Book Heroes: Wonder Woman: Ditto for this comic book series, but this post was the one for which I learned the most and had my eyes opened most completely.
34) Roopika Risam’s Guest Post: I could include any and all guest posts in this list—but Roopika’s was certainly a wonderful addition to the blog.
35) American Swims: Cheever’s Swimmer: Part of the fun of this blog is sharing American texts that I think we should all read, and Cheever’s short story is a great example.
36) Book Release Reflections, Part Four: I have to end the list with one of the things I’m most excited about in the year to come (and I now have at least 20 talks definitely coming up!).
Next birthday best post tomorrow,
PS. You know what to do!
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