Note, Interminable Rambling will be on break for the next two weeks. Check back on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, for new posts.
I never really know what I have accomplished, or not accomplished, until I turn my gaze backward. Over the past year, a lot has happened. I moved to Norway, with my family, for a year. I’ve traveled more in the past few months than I ever have in my life. I’ve published in multiple venues. I’ve taught multiple classes. I’ve reached over 40,000 views on Interminable Rambling, more than doubling the number from 2017. Ultimately, this year has provided me with more than I could have ever imagined. As such, today’s post will serve as a reflection of 2018.
Before the end of 2017, I already knew that we would be moving to Bergen, Norway for the 2018-2019 academic year, so I had already started to think about what the experience would entail. At the end of 2018, we are halfway through our time in Norway, and the experience has been everything, and more, than I could have imagined. If you told me, even two years ago, that we would move to another country and live for a year, I would totally scoff.
During our time in Norway, we have taken in the history and scenery of Bergen (Mt. Fløyen, Bergenhus, Fort Kvarven, and more), we have learned to navigate the grocery store, we have tried new foods, and much more. Along with all of this, I have had the opportunity to travel to places such as Bordeaux, France, and Warsaw, Poland, to speak on Black Panther and Frank Yerby respectively. (Look for posts about these trips in the future.) These trips allowed me to experience, albeit in microcosm, French and Polish culture and history. As well, the trips provided me with ways to connect what students saw around them every day to questions they had about the United States.
Over the past year, I have engaged with various venues for public scholarship. I have continued my work on Black Perspectives, the blog of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS). There, I wrote about Jackie Ormes, Dwayne McDuffie, John Ira Jennings and Damian Duffy’s adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Kindred, the EJI Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and much more. I am honored to be a part of Black Perspectives and the AAIHS’ ongoing work that focuses on Black thought and culture.
Along with my work at Black Perspectives, I have written for Teaching United States History since the fall of 2017. There, I have written about networking, discussion boards and memos in the classroom, archival work in the classroom, and more. I also had the opportunity to write a piece for Public Books on Ernest J. Gaines The Tragedy of Brady Sims. In “For the Black and White Youth of the South,” I look at the ways that Gaines’ novella draws on his previous work and serves “as an antidote to Southern ignorance, the ignorance engineered from above to divide along racial, ethnic, and class lines.” Perhaps one of the most unexpected items for this list came back in the spring when I learned that the Harpy Agenda chose my post on Black Labor in Mark Waid and J.G. Jones’s Strange Fruit as that month’s award winner. I always wonder who reads my work, and to have it recognized in such a manner made me realize that what I write does have merit to others.
For the past couple of years, I have had the privilege to work on the C19 Podcast subcommittee. While part of this position involves evaluating proposals, assisting with editing, and constructing operating materials, I was able to do some more by actually recording the intro and outro music. This is not something that goes on my CV, but it is something I am proud of nonetheless. When I recorded the music, I constantly had it looping in my head, sometimes out of the blue. I guess that means it’s catchy, which is a good thing.
This past year, I was able to record an episode of the C19 Podcast. On the episode, I interviewed Keri Leigh Merritt about her book Masterless Men. We spoke about poor whites during the antebellum period, the importance of archival research, the importance of interdiscipilnarity, and the role of academics on social media. Along with this episode, I had the chance to record an episode for the Institutt for fremmedspråk here at the University of Bergen. The episode, “‘O Holy Night’ and the Abolitionist Movement,” looks at the connections between the Christmas carol and the abolitionist movement during the 1850s.
This is a broad category that includes book reviews and scholarship in the form of books chapters, journal articles, and manuscripts. Instead of discussing each of the books reviews I did this year, I will merely list the books and provide links, when available, to the reviews.
- Jeroen Dewulf From the Kingdom of Kongo to Congo Square: Kongo Dances and the Origins of the Mardi Gras Indians
- andré m. carrington Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction (Review appears in National Political Science Review)
- Todd Snyder 12 Rounds in Lo’s Gym: Boxing and Manhood in Appalachia
- Louis Moore I Fight for a Living: Boxing and the Battle for Black Manhood, 1880-1915
As for publications, my book chapter, “Teaching the Pastoral and Race in Jean Toomer, Ernest Hemingway, and Ernest Gaines,” appeared in Gary Holcomb’s Teaching Hemingway and Race. The chapter examines the connections between Toomer, Hemingway, and Gaines, specifically by looking at the ways that each author deploys the pastoral. I examine Toomer’s “Avey,” Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River,” and Gaines’ “The Sky is Gray.” In March 2018, my essay entitled “‘Our Women. . . are Ladies’: Frank Yerby’s Deconstruction of White Southern Womanhood in Speak Now” appeared in the College Language Association Journal. The article focuses on how Yerby deconstructs the myth of White, Southern womanhood through the characters of Kathy Nichols and Harry Forbes in Speak Now. I also examine Yerby’s short story “White Magnolias.” I also had my article “Excavating the Roots Beneath Our Feet in the Early American Survey Course” accepted for a special issue of South: A Scholarly Journal. The article details how I construct my literature survey courses around conversations and how those conversations help us understand the present.
Along with these pieces, I submitted my edited collection, Frank Yerby: Essays. Currently, the collection is under review which means you will hopefully get to see it sometime soon. In conjunction with this, I started two new projects which I do not necessarily want to get into at this point. Suffice it to say, you will hear more about them in the near future.
Like I said at the start of this post, a lot has happened in 2018. Here’s hoping that 2019 proves just as fruitful, if not more so. Make sure to follow me on Twitter at @silaslapham.
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