A quick clarification regarding my post. Ms. Spark wondered if I was suggesting that bloggers get more intense and begin using footnotes. No, I'm not in favor of that. My post meant to ask if the relaxed nature of bloggers (which I think is fine) has influenced scholarship in general. Has blogging caused us to expect less in the way of academic publications? I'm not sure about that question. My guess is that it has. But, in any case, I endorse the casual quality of blogs. They're important.
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I agree with Louis Caton that bloggers should, at least in their own minds, write nothing to a lay audience that can't be justified with thorough scholarly apparatus. Sadly, most blogging is performed by ideologues with unscholarly motives, including venting, revenge, or pushing a particular ideological line.
A quick note regarding Claire Spark's questions about bloggers. I would agree with a qualification. The blogs I read seem just fine. However, it seems like blogging in general has caused a bit of a relaxing to some of the formal expectations of research. I've noticed several recent Ameicanist authors seem less interested in providing textual support to their observations. More books have no or limited end-notes, many have no pagination for quotations, and a few are more intent on giving observations about culture rather than deeply reasoned analysis about ideas.
This isn't so much a blog as a e-magazine, but http://werehistory.org/ (We're History) is short scholar-written articles on American History. FYI, I've contributed so I'm not impartial! Also on Twitter for those of you who Tweet at @WereHistory.
- Mimi Cowan
PhD Candidate, History
For a course on material culture of the United States I used the short essays in The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects as examples of object-based writing with a historical focus. The book is written for lay people and does not explicitly address material culture studies methodology or theory, but it does offer brief compositions that engage with a single artifact. The objects and essays featured in the book elucidate a range of items and analytical strategies that provide historical insight. I asked my students to identify where in each essay the author focuses on
I would suggest you take a look at http://edchnm.gmu.edu/teachinghiddenhistory/. I have just completed this course (literally yesterday), and the template is very helpful to construct a lesson around objects of material culture.
I'm sorry that I do not know of any such articles, but I was hoping you might post your findings to the list. You may want to check out Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's recent course at Harvard College, where she had undergrads interact with material culture.
Dominique Padurano, Ph.D.