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.
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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
We don't blog about American Studies but we do blog as American Studies-scholars (mostly) at Points: the Blog of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society. That is to say, we are historically grounded, inter- and multi-disciplinary, and polyglot in a good way. Or at least we try to be.
I'd like to second the point about group blogs. I think anyone contemplating the issue has to begin with a sober awareness that blogging is simply not going to contribute to your assessment for tenure and promotion -- at least not at most institutions I know of. You can write a post that is read by tens of thousands of people around the globe, reaching a vastly greater audience than a monograph or an article in a top journal, but it probably won't amount to a hill of beans as far as your department or college is concerned.
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.
I am also experimenting with a similar assignment for this coming fall. I ran the assignment in an online setting this summer, so far so good. In the online, I didn't have room to have them read any theory but this last week I had them use the website http://objectofhistory.org/ to complete a worksheet asking students questions about the physicality of the object, uses of the object, and the context of the object.