Here are the top posts for Jacksonian America for 2012. Thanks for making this year the blog’s most successful.
Honorable mention: The Evolution of a Book series, consisting of nine posts to date, with 942 views. (Part 1 linked here.)
By the time you read this, I should be at Northumbria University in Newcastle-upon-Tyne for this year’s BrANCH conference. (The program is here.) This is my first BrANCH (British American Nineteenth Century Historians) conference experience, and I’m glad it’s being held in one of my favorite areas of England.
I try to post my conference papers in advance. Things have been hectic recently, so I apologize for the late posting. This draft isn’t the final one, which has the introduction and conclusion, as well as full citations. Nevertheless, it gives you an idea of what I’ll be talking about.
Despite the recent controversy over live-tweeting and live-blogging, I plan on doing both if the technology is available and I’m not too jet-lagged.
This year’s Beloit mindset list is out. The fact that “For this generation of entering college students, born in 1994, Kurt Cobain, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Richard Nixon and John Wayne Gacy have always been dead” is pretty remarkable.
Other interesting tidbits:
The Biblical sources of terms such as “Forbidden Fruit,” “The writing on the wall,” “Good Samaritan,” and “The Promised Land” are unknown to most of them.
They can’t picture people actually carrying luggage through airports rather than rolling it.
There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.
Having grown up with MP3s and iPods, they never listen to music on the car radio and really have no use for radio at all.
Since they’ve been born, the United States has measured progress by a 2 percent jump in unemployment and a 16 cent rise in the price of a first class postage stamp.
Benjamin Braddock, having given up both a career in plastics and a relationship with Mrs. Robinson, could be their grandfather.
Their folks have never gazed with pride on a new set of bound encyclopedias on the bookshelf.
A significant percentage of them will enter college already displaying some hearing loss.
The Real World has always stopped being polite and started getting real on MTV.
They have lived in an era of instant stardom and self-proclaimed celebrities, famous for being famous.
Outdated icons with images of floppy discs for “save,” a telephone for “phone,” and a snail mail envelope for “mail” have oddly decorated their tablets and smart phone screens.
There have always been blue M&Ms, but no tan ones.’
Probably the most tribal generation in history, they despise being separated from contact with their similar-aged friends.
Point-and-shoot cameras are soooooo last millennium.
Despite being preferred urban gathering places, two-thirds of the independent bookstores in the United States have closed for good during their lifetimes.
I mentioned last week that I was considering revamping the blog. As you hopefully can tell, that transformation is complete.
Some changes of note:
1. I reorganized the blog to look more like a website. The menu is divided into more specific categories to direct visitors to pages that might interest them.
2. I changed the blog theme from Vigilance to Comet. I think it looks cleaner and simpler.
3. I removed several widgets from the right-hand side and added a Facebook widget.
4. I purchased two domain names: jacksonianamerica.com and markcheathem.com. Both redirect to the revamped blog site.
Let me know what you think.
For the past few months, I’ve been pondering an upgrade for this blog. I’m not sure that I can justify WordPress Pro ($99/year), so I’m thinking that the WordPress domain and mapping option ($17/year) is the direction to go.
My major dilemma with this decision is the domain name: Should I go with Jacksonian America dot com or with a variation of my name? This blog has developed into more than just discussion of Jacksonian America, but I don’t want to dispose of the brand name that I’ve built with the blog. On the other hand, identifying the domain with my personal name is its own type of branding, and it doesn’t limit me to the historical topic on which I built the blog (not that the name has stopped me from tackling other topics).
As far as design, I like the way Kevin Levin’s website is constructed. Are there other examples of historians’/academics’ websites that you find aesthetically pleasing?
If you are an Early Republic historian who has considered writing for a blog but hasn’t taken the leap, I would like to offer you the opportunity to guest blog for Jacksonian America. Let me know, and we’ll work out the details.
Have a good holiday break, and I’ll see you in 2012.
I’ve been mulling over the idea of putting together a public history course. We don’t have the resources to develop a major in public history, but by pairing a course or two with an internship and practicum, a minor might be a possibility. If we go through with such a change, I’m expecting that it will give our majors more career flexibility once they graduate.
Aside from working at The Hermitage and rubbing elbows with my fellow MTSU grad students in public history years ago, my only experience with that area was when I taught an independent study course on historical interpretation in 2006. The course was raw, and I’m not sure how much it benefited the two students who took it. In addition to asking students to serve as interns at historic sites in Concord, New Hampshire, I assigned the following books for the course:
- Jennifer L. Eichstedt and Stephen Small, Representations of Slavery: Race and Ideology in Southern Plantation Museums (Smithsonian Books, 2002)
- Michael Kammen, Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture (Vintage, 1993)
- James Loewen, Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong (Touchstone, 2000)
- Timothy B. Smith, This Great Battlefield of Shiloh: History, Memory, and the Establishment of a Civil War National Military Park (University of Tennessee, 2004)
- Mike Wallace, Mickey Mouse History and Other Essays on American Memory (Temple University Press)
A former student recommended some possible readings for a public history course, and I also found syllabi at the Public History Resource Center.
What say you, readers? Are these books appropriate for an introductory public history course? If not, what would you recommend?
Since I was a child begging my mother to take me to the library on a daily basis, I have appreciated the designated keepers of books. Conducting research as a student made me even more aware of the specialized jobs that academic librarians and archivists do every day to make life easier for people like me.
Partly because of that background, Meredith Farkas’ recent post struck a nerve. This particular sentence caught my eye:
We need to go back to a model where scholarly publishing is about providing access to scholarship . . .
It reminded me of a conversation that I had with an archivist earlier this year. This individual argued that the turf wars between academics (history professors such as myself) and archivists harmed the scholarly pursuit. Archives need to be open and accessible to the public, which was one of my rallying cries earlier this year about the Tennessee State Library and Archives. At the same time, academics do not possess a proprietary right to sources that they are using. For example, if a family genealogist is using a source at an archive that I need for my academic research, or if an archive has restricted access to a collection, it is not my right to demand that my research takes priority or that the rules don’t apply to me. (You laugh, but I’ve seen both happen.)
It’s also a shame that academics sometimes view library and archival staff as people to do their bidding instead of partners in scholarship. Believe me, library and archival staff have helped me immensely over the years, identifying sources that might be useful, finding extra funding for books that I needed for upcoming courses, and ordering obscure interlibrary loan requests. Without them, I would never have finished my undergraduate degree, graduate school, or my first book, nor would my students have had the access that they needed to do the work required.
So, for all of you librarians and archivists who’ve helped me and others over the years, thank you. You don’t get enough credit (or pay) for what you do.
Classes here at CU are on break, so I’m going to take a day off to catch up on reading and spend time with my family. I’ll be back on Wednesday.
After a couple of weeks of posting, and with the realization that the semester will leave less time for coming up with brilliant and interesting topics, I’ve decided to go to a three-times-a-week posting schedule. There may be weeks when I post more often, but I will do my best to post, at a minimum, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Also, I wanted to acknowledge a couple of individuals. Darrell Dow recommended that I replace my atrocious (my word, not his) original header with the current one, which he created. He also made some other suggestions about ways to increase traffic. I also want to thank my colleague at Cumberland, Dr. Sarah Pierce, with whom I had an encouraging talk during a summer registration session. Her enthusiasm for her own blog and Twitter account convinced me to take the idea for this blog, which I had been contemplating for several months, and make it happen. Neither of them are responsible for any of the blog’s shortcomings, of course; I was able to make those happen all on my own.