Things I wrote in 2016

A new year presents an opportunity to take stock of my achievements in school and online over the last year.

In April, I began this blog as I attempted to get back up to academic speed. Book reviews, a piece about a historical marker, and a post explaining my Mennonite background brought me through May before a bit of a hiatus in June and July and scattered posts in August.

September saw a lot of new beginnings. On September first, AnabaptistHistorians.org posted its first content. A collaborative blog that publishes a ton of interesting voices in Anabaptist scholarship, AH is something of which I am super proud to be one part. To date I’ve posted two essays over there: a book review of Susan L. Trollinger’s Selling the Amish: The Tourism of Nostalgia, and what I hope will be a conversation starter about public history methods in Anabaptist institutions and contexts. Highlights from other contributors include essaysby Tobin Miller Shearer and Regina Shands Stoltzfus on the history of Mennonite evangelism to African Americans, Janneken Smucker’s continuing work on the cultural resonance of Amish quilts, and the roundtable response to Ben Goossen’s essay on ideas of racial purity (and superiority) in Mennonite genealogy. There are many more gems tucked away over at AH, and the weekly posting schedule (every Thursday) ensures that there will be plenty more scholarship to come.

September also brought my first semester at Temple University. Managing History with Dr. Hilary Iris Lowe had a requirement that we blog weekly about our readings for class, a requirement that has provided the bulk of my posts to date on this site. These posts can be found under the “Managing History” tag. As I re-read my reading blogs in the process of assembling an end-of-semester portfolio, I did a bit of cringing, but they got me a decent grade so I’m making peace with them.

Throughout the fall semester, I did more reading than writing. Some of the books that will stick with me: The Wages of History by Amy Tyson, River of Dark Dreams by Walter Johnson, Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-century Europe by Hayden White, Exhibit Labels by Beverly Serrell, Paper Cadavers by Kirsten Weld, Scraping By by Seth Rockman, and Playing Ourselves by Laura Peers.

By the second week in December, however, I’d written three major papers and drafted a grant proposal. I wrote a brief review/comparison of several historical sites in Philadelphia, a personal reflection on my work over the semester in Managing History, a historiography of anthropological studies at historical sites around the country, and a proposed pop-up installation on the flu. Perhaps in the next couple of weeks I’ll cannibalize one of those papers for a longer post here.

In the throes of those final papers, another opportunity presented itself. A conversation with Holly Genovese resulted in the creation of the Stars Hollow Historical Society. This blog will explore the many ways that the much-loved TV show “Gilmore Girls” deals with public history, heritage tourism, and generally with the public humanities. One of our efforts is simply to catalogue relevant scenes and references (with episode numbers and timestamps) as a resource for scholars. You can help out with that effort here. My first essay for the SHHS is about the town’s annual Revolutionary War reenactment and there are some great essays in the pipeline.

While 2016 will be remembered for many other things (the loss of many celebrities, especially those who broke rigid understandings of sexuality and gender, a contentious election and the rise of fake news), it goes into my personal record books as the year I re-entered academia and took my first wobbly steps into the field of public history. I hope 2017 will be a fruitful continuation of those first steps and I hope you’ll check in occasionally and see what I’ve been working on. Happy New Year!

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