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My New Book!
My New Book!

Saturday, November 11, 2023

November 11, 2023: 13 Years (!) of AmericanStudying: Influential Folks

[This week AmericanStudier celebrates its 13th anniversary! For this year’s anniversary series, I wanted to highlight a handful of key moments and pieces in my development as an online public scholar, leading up to this special weekend tribute to some key influences on that evolving career!]

I’ve ended many of these anniversary reflections series with tribute posts, and wanted to do the same this year, this time focusing on a handful of folks who have been instrumental in my evolving online public scholarly career overall:

1)      Heather Cox Richardson: As I detailed in Tuesday’s post, Heather’s support and connection to multiple sites were vital as I began to transition from the blog to a broader online public scholarly voice and presence and career. But she’s also just been and remains a model for that work, from her individual writing to her use of Twitter to support fellow scholars to many other layers to her own evolving career. Very proud to call her a friend as well as influence!

2)      Avi Green: In Wednesday’s post, I talked about the key role that Avi (then the Scholars Strategy Network’s Communications Director) played in helping me land the 2014 Talking Points Memo column that really shifted my online public scholarly career to another stage. That was just a microcosm of what Avi and SSN (and the two were entirely inseparable for me in my first years of working with both) meant for not only me, but all the public scholars who were fortunate enough to get connected to them.

3)      Nona Willis Aronowitz: As the Talking Points Memo editor with whom I worked for most of my 18 months writing that column, Nona was a true model for that role, which to my mind works very differently with online public scholarship than it does in other forms of journalism, academic publishing, and so on. This version requires speed yet depth, collegial cheerleading yet rigorous revision, solidarity yet challenge when appropriate, and in all those and other ways Nona helped my writing and voice grow and improve immeasurably.

4)      Jen Bortel: Nona was my first great editor, but I mean absolutely no disrespect to her when I say that Jen has been the best. As I wrote in Thursday’s post, I’ve been writing the Considering History column for the Saturday Evening Post for nearly six years, and Jen (having initially recruited me to do so) has been with me every column and step of the way. Her thoughtful and careful editing has greatly improved my style, her reminders about Post audiences have helped me think through what public engagement truly means, and her consistent support and solidarity have made this by far the best gig of my career. I like to think that my support for fellow online public scholars with the #ScholarSunday threads is me paying forward at least a bit of what Jen has meant for my own career.

5)      You!: Yeah, you. And also you. And definitely you too. Really, every last one of you. As I start at the start of this week’s series, a great deal has changed since that November 6, 2010 blog post—but one thing that has remained the same, in this space and in every one I’ve connected to, has been my desire to engage audiences, to enter and help shape our conversations. That means no one has been more influential to and important for that evolving online public scholarly career than you—and I can’t thank you enough! Here’s to all of us, and all our conversations, over these 13 years and over all those to come.

Next series starts Monday,


PS. What do you think? Online writing or work of yours I can highlight and share?

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