Somehow, I failed to recognise that last Thursday’s post on David F. Walker’s Luke Cage was my 300th post on Interminable Rambling. That means that this site has been live, in one form or another, for three years. A lot has happened in those three years, and I have written about a lot of subjects. Typically, I try to keep my posts around 1,000 words, give or take. That means that I have written over 300K words on this site alone since August 2015. That, to me, is hard for me to even fathom. Today, I want to take the time to briefly share with you some of my favorite posts and some of the posts that have gotten the most views since I started this site.
Before reading Eli Rosenblat’s piece on Kelley over at Public Books, I had only read two of his works: Dem and A Different Drummer. I did not realise that Kelley had a collection of short stories, Dancers on the Shore, so I decided to pick up a copy and read it. Two stories stuck out to me: “The Only Man on Liberty Street” and “The Servant Problem.” In “The Servant Problem,” Kelley “addresses the domestic space and sexual policing of black bodies, topics that occur in ‘The Only Man on Liberty Street’ as well. In “The Servant Problem,” Kelley displays the sexual and psychological oppression that Black female domestics experience working within white homes.” The story can be read with authors like Harriet Jacobs and Anne Moody and scholars such as Patricia Hill Collins and Hazel Carby.
When I started getting into sequential art a few years ago, I tried to read some Swamp Thing; however, after reading Qiana Whitted’s chapter in Comics and the U.S. South, I had to pick up issues #41 and #42 of Moore’s run. As well, when thinking about my favorite posts over the past three years, I came across a drawing of Swamp Thing on my social media feed, and it immediately made me think about these issues. (The picture here is a few years older.) While I did two posts on Moore’s Swamp Thing, I like this one because it examines the ways that the issues explore cultural representation, first through the television series and then, specifically, at the end of “Strange Fruit” when we see Alice’s father in a ticket booth, surrounded by movie poster, symbolizing a sort of coffin.
One of the ongoing themes on this site has been the ways that language works to control others and maintains one’s position and power. Every semester, I point out to students the importance of the words they choose to use. Specifically, I speak with them about the use of words such as “enslaved” and “slave.” This is just one example, of many, that I could use in these discussions. However, I use this specific example because we discuss the institution of slavery in my courses and the trauma that individuals endured under the violent system. Jill Lepore notes, “If war is, at least in part, a contest for meaning, can it ever be a fair fight when only one side has access to these perfect instruments of empire, pens, papers, and printing presses?” This is a question we need to think about, everyday. Ultimately, as I write in the post, “If we can get students to understand the importance of how their words construct meaning, and how history arises from the words authors chose, then hopefully we can get them to see the ways that the words they choose, even in the present, have impact on individuals whether they realize it or not.”
While writing my dissertation, I became interested in discussions surrounding the rise of a “distinctly” American literature. This interest has carried over to my teaching as well, and hopefully it will become part of a larger project in the future. Out of all of the posts I have done on this topic, I chose this post because it provides a good overview, with links, of my thoughts on this topic. I chronicle everything from Mary Rowlandson through Walt Whitman. Ultimately, this is what I want students to get from this discussion: “When we teach our students American literature, it is important that we have them consider not just the end product produced as something that can stand alone. We must have them consider how that work not only addresses social issues such as slavery, Native American removal, class, and a myriad of other topics; we must make sure they think about how these texts worked within a culture that repeatedly tried to answer the calls for a ‘distinctly’ American literature that separated itself from Europe and the rest of the world.”
Every now and then, someone will look at my CV or the work I produce and ask, “How do you maintain productivity?” They ask this question because they know that I typically teach a 4/4 load, have a family, other responsibilities, and yet I still seem to maintain an active research agenda. With all of this in mind, I wrote a post detailing my process for remaining productive, even in the midst of a heavy teaching load and other responsibilities. My process will not work for everyone, and each individual needs to find the process/plan that works bets for them. In fact, my process has morphed over the years, and the process I write about in this post may not be the process I still employ in the future. Hopefully the tips I share will help you find your own process.
Most viewed posts!
Everyday, I am intrigued to see how people find my site. People visit from around the world. I am sure some of these are bots, but I want to believe that there are not many of those wandering the pages on this site. What keeps me going the most, though, is seeing that teachers are using some of my posts in their classes. People visit my site from schools such as Louisiana Tech, South Carolina State University, Portsmouth College, and even secondary schools. Sometimes, I question whether or not I should continue maintaining the site and posting twice a week. When I do that, I inevitably encounter someone who says they have read my site and it has helped them in some way: pedagogically, research wise, entertainment, etc. These facts cause me to continue writing and posting on my site. With that said, here are the top five posts, by visits, from the last three years. (The number does not include individuals who viewed the post from the home page.)
- “Stuffed Lion in Get Out” (2,493)
- “Everett K. Ross ‘Emperor of Useless White Boys’ in Christopher Priest’s Black Panther” (1,863)
- “Robert Hayden’s ‘A Letter from Phyllis Wheatley, 1773’” (1,746)
- “‘Theresa, a Haytien Tale’ and the ‘Tropical Sublime’” (1,722)
- “Harriet Jacobs and the Cult of True Womanhood” (1,448)
I would love to hear about your favorite posts from the past three years. What are they? What do you enjoy about this site? What do you want to see more of? Let me know either in the comments below or on Twitter at @silaslapham.