Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: Failure, Growth, Challenges, and Progress

2015 was a year of chaotic learning. The short piece below outlines some of the tasks which were a part of the year, and where I'm hoping to go in 2016.

Blog Projects

I will remember 2015 as the year I found out that I'd bit off more than I could chew in 2014.

2014's Lingering Projects

I started the year with two projects project begun in 2014 (and still not complete, though I intend to return to them).

First, my series on the History Relevancy Project and the Value of History, specifically what those developments can tell the public about how historians view, and improve, the world around us. This project became increasingly difficult to work my way though because I wanted to improve the quality of the content I was bringing to the blog. I'm still slogging my way through the last of those posts, in part because I have reached out to my local NPR station and a few other sources along the way.

The second holdover is some work on the role of ethics in historical practice. This started off as a primer in the ethical principles outlined by different professional societies and the importance of ethical research. Those interests though have taken on new life though, in part because...

2015 Was A Year of Social Upheaval and 2016 Looks to Be the Same.

In 2015, events including the Black Lives Matter movement, the legalization of gay marriage, the candidacy of Donald Trump, and the murders of parishioners in Charleston, S.C. turned up the volume, and heat, on discussions in professional circles about the role of history in society and the creation/maintenance of public memory. I ended up so wrapped up in the discussions that I decided it was time to step back and get some perspective before sharing a measured response to the chaos. With the 2016 presidential elections and other political tensions being where they are, 2016, is shaping up to be another contentious year, and my hope is to be more responsive and less reactive to the discussions.

Also, the Department of Health and Human Services is in the process of reviewing a rule change about the place of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) in the development and oversight of oral history. I imagine that this poses the possibility to look at what role oral history can play in our understandings of society and opportunities (including StoryCorps) for individuals to participate in oral history work.

These discussions will be a part of what I am hoping to start doing on a more frequent basis, reviewing books. So far, I've limited myself to books which I have been reading as a part of my coursework, but I am hoping to expand this into the books I am reading for my thesis research. These book reviews will be of older materials and materials that I'm not working on as a part of my volunteer efforts as an Assistant Book Review Editor for the Society for U.S. Intellectual History (S-USIH). These efforts are a part of an expanding section of my life,

Professional Development.

2015 was a fantastic year in this regard, as I gave my first professional conference presentation to the Midwest Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association meeting in Cincinnati (October). Additionally, I had the chance to explore some new ground as a scholarship recipient in Kokomo, Indiana at the annual Indiana Historic Preservation Conference (April) where I met scholars, practitioners, and contractors interested in different aspects of historic preservation of buildings, homes, and landscapes. This was particularly useful when in May I had the opportunity to help with some of the upkeep on historical properties in Madison, I.N. (including a National Register home). While I wasn't able to attend the S-USIH conference in Washington, D.C., I was fortunately able to still help out by creating the annual newsletter. This was a fine chance to try out some of the new skills I had obtained through my...


2015 was my first full calendar year back in academia, and I was able to start learning and researching in a wide variety of different specialties.

Digital Humanities/History

While I've had an interest in using digital tools in the dissemination of public scholarship, I was finally able to do some coursework to see how diverse a sub-field this is becoming. I was able to participate in developing a new website,, and beginning to discuss these issues with other developing scholars. This included learning new tools, including some html/css coding, rudimentary GIS (geo-locating information), data cleaning, and scholarly review of websites/projects.

Documentary/Textual Editing

Though I spent Fall 2014 working for the Santayana Edition (a documentary editing project), 2015 was when my practice in scholarly editing really kicked into gear. I became a member of the Association of Documentary Editors, and undertook my first project, a documentary edition of Ray Bradbury's correspondence about the development of The Golden Apples of the Sun (1953). This project, once it is finished being edited, will become a permanent part of the collection at the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at IUPUI. All of this effort is now being put to use in my new position, as a Graduate Research Intern in the Indiana Historical Society Press. At the Press, I have the opportunity to write scholarly articles, review and edit articles, and help to bring books to print. These opportunities have been a wonderful contrast to my continuing research into Ray Bradbury, and provided the opportunity for me to write an article that I am looking forward to coming out next year on... 

Labor History

Though a critical element of understanding American culture, this year was the first time that I had the chance to explore American Labor History with any depth. The book reviews on Bruce Laurie's Artisans Into Workers as well as Murolo and Chitty's From the Folks That Brought You the Weekend were both a part of that coursework. Also as a part of this work, I had the opportunity to try out a new format of review, the historical film review. I am hoping to incorporate some of those reviews in the coming year, as well as to expand the types of films I review.

2016: Where Are We Going?

2016 is looking like another interesting year, including hopefully completing my thesis, graduating, and beginning the job search. Other planned components include some coursework in British educational systems (to dovetail with some of my earlier work on homeschooling in the United States), Intellectual development in the Cold War, and a some international travel (more on that once we've gone and returned). As of right now, around a half dozen articles are in various stages of editing for publication (having already been accepted), and there is a stack of about a dozen books to be read. Hopefully, I will have lots more interesting material for you, my readers, in the upcoming year. I certainly look forward to it...

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