[I’m on my first sabbatical this fall, and will be working on a bunch of different projects. All of them could benefit from the input and ideas of my fellow American Studiers, and so this week I’ll be blogging about a handful of those projects and asking for your contributions (not financial, it’s a paid sabbatical). I’d love to hear your thoughts! And please feel free to share some of what you’re working on too, so I can return the favor.]
On my fall goals for this here American Studier site.
The American Studier website that Graham Beckwith and I designed and created has been up and running for 8 months now, and there’s a lot about it that I’m already proud of for sure. It’s become a very good home for the daily blog posts and Memory Day calendar nominees, which have so far been and might always be the most consistently updated part of the site. But I’ve also, and even more importantly, really enjoyed the chance to include and highlight the voices and ideas of fellow American Studiers: in the Analytical Pieces section; in Forum posts; and in suggestions for Archives, Collections and other Resources, to name three places that have been constructed out of those other voices. My most central goal for the site is that it become generally communal and collaborative, and these represent definite starting points in that direction.
I’d love to build each of those sections further this fall, so if you have: briefer American Studies questions, perspectives, interests, and thoughts, create a Forum thread; longer analytical takes that haven’t found a home (or that have but to which I can link), share ‘em (email@example.com) for the Analytical Pieces section; suggestions for good American Studies Resources (online, archives and collections, in any of that page’s categories, etc.), send ‘em along; and so on. But I’m even more interested in seeing what we can do with the least developed (to date) part of the site, the Multimedia page. As you can see, I’ve created some preliminary categories and have posted a few examples for each; I’d love if every American Studier who visits this site could share one or another text (available, at least in part, online) that he or she believes we should all engage, making that page a genuine database of American Studies primary sources. But I’m also open to other ways to think about American Studies and to analyze our history, culture, identity, narratives, and so on—so if you have suggestions on how a page like that could be constructed, please send ‘em my way (again, firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll make sure to credit you and your work.
Those are some of my ideas and hopes. But the truth, to get all Rumsfeld-ian for a moment, is that I don’t know what I don’t know, and I need your help on that front even more fully. I’d say that’s particularly true when it comes to teachers, professors, and program directors in American Studies—what would benefit you all when it comes to a site like this? We could create a whole Pedagogy page, for example—what would you like to see there? What kinds of materials and resources could make your jobs easier, would benefit your students, could help you use a site like this in a course or the like? I’ll ask the same question of students, at every level—what could this site include and do to help you in your work? Ditto for researchers and scholars outside of any academic or educational setting—what would help you pursue your interests or work? No matter who or where you are, the simple fact is this: I would love to get a sense of those things, of what brings you to the site and of what could make it even more successful as a resource for you. That question, in any and every form, is what I hope will drive my—our—work on the site this fall.
Next fall project tomorrow,
PS. You know what to do! Answers to any and all those questions, now and at any moment down the road, will be greatly appreciated and very valuable.