A little over a year ago, I posted an account of the evolution of this blog as it reached its fourth birthday. It’s now time to provide an update, a few months after the fifth anniversary of “Retired But Not Shy,” and the appearance of the 100th post at the site.
First, some context: As I said in the previous “birthday” post, I had originally envisioned this blog as a sort of adjunct to my major retirement project, the completion of a sequel to my 1986 book on factions and parties in Georgia, which carried the story from the American Revolution through the death of the state’s first party boss, James Jackson, in 1806. This past summer I published this sequel, which ran to more than 400 pages and carried the story through 1845. I also brought out a collection of essays on the political history of antebellum Georgia, presented within an autobiographical framework. Strangely enough, the closer I got to completing these volumes, the less I wrote about them in the blog.
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So, what did I consider post-worthy between the summer of 2014 and the summer of 2015?
1) I added eight posts to the “In Pursuit of Dead Georgians” series, finishing the sequence on the American Revolution in Georgia, and moving into the postwar period.
2) I also added seven posts to the “History Lesson Plans” series: three [here, here, and here] traced the road I followed on my way to creating one of my favorite courses, “The History of the Modern American Civil Rights Movement” [here]; the other four posts in this series encompassed my approach to “The History of American Republicanism.” [here, here, here, and here]
3) Then there were the book reviews. One, on James Krefft’s Short, a novel about the domestic side of the Vietnam War that I really identified with; another, a fine classroom biography of Ronald Reagan by an old friend, Jim Broussard; a post treating two hefty works, Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland and Sean Wilentz’s The Age of Reagan that brought a response from Perlstein; and a review of a fine book by another long-time scholarly acquaintance, Hardy Jackson, The Rise and Decline of the Redneck Riviera, which I’d first read in 2012, but inexplicably delayed reviewing until the fall of 2015, a year or so after I’d used his book as a sort of travel guide for a driving tour of the Redneck Riviera.
4) My brother Rick and I collaborated on a post about the hatred of wolves, a passion of Rick’s, asking whether such an attitude could be termed ‘wolfism,” something that was akin to “racism,” a concept at the center of my Civil Rights course over the last few years before my retirement. Whatever you might think about the post, Rick and I had a lot of fun putting it together!
5) In the wake of publishing two books this past summer, I used one post to discuss their “back stories,” as well as that of my first book.
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I’ve also got an updated “top ten” list, based on the last year or so of visits to “Retired But Not Shy”:
Teaching Prep School With a PhD: Is It for You?
History Lesson Plans, 1: Teaching History “Backwards”
Civil Rights—and Wrongs: Personal Reflections on Dr. King and His Legacy
In Pursuit of Dead Georgians, 4: Getting Reacquainted With Georgia Governor Wilson Lumpkin
Blues Stories, 10: Son House—Preacher, Killer, “Father of the Delta Blues”
Blues Stories, 11: Mississippi John Hurt, The Yoda of the Blues
High School, Now—and Then: Reflections on a 50th Reunion
Blues Stories, 7: Electric Mud—The Life and Music of Muddy Waters (1915-1983)
In Pursuit of Dead Georgians, 5: Governor George R. Gilmer (1829-1831, 1837-1839) and the Cherokees
Blues Stories, 6: The Mississippi Delta and the Blues
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There are some changes in the latest “top ten,” and a few of these popular posts raise some questions:
1) Who could have predicted that the Internet version of a talk I gave at Emory University, “Teaching Prep School with a PhD: Is It for You?”, would have become the most visited of my posts? Certainly not I. It undoubtedly has a lot to do with the job market for History PhDs, or, more accurately, the lack of same.
2) Those wonderful folks at wordpress.com have pointed out in their annual reviews of “Retired But Not Shy’s” performance that the Blues posts seem to have “legs,” i.e., people return to them again and again. Although I’m glad to know that, I’m not sure I understand quite why things turned out that way. For instance, the post on “Mississippi John Hurt: The Yoda of the Blues” was visited infrequently before this past year, at which point it seemed as though members of the “Mississippi John Hurt Fan Club” (if such an organization exists) discovered it and passed the word along, so that everyone in the club could read it! Thank you very much, all you Mississippi John Hurt fans! I certainly appreciate your interest and your visits to this blog.
3) And perhaps it’s a function of age, but I cannot believe the popularity of the post I put up after returning from my fiftieth high school reunion! I mean, I’m happy that so many people visited the post, but I can’t help but wonder how my view of the Newark (Del.) High School Class of 1962’s 50th Reunion squared—or didn’t—with those of visitors to the site.
4) Then there is the continuing popularity of two posts in the “In Pursuit of Dead Georgians” series, on Georgia governors Wilson Lumpkin and George R. Gilmer and their policies towards the Cherokees. I still don’t understand why they remain so popular, though of course I’m glad they have! The cynic in me reminds that perhaps a few History teachers somewhere in Georgia have assigned Cherokee removal as a term paper topic. . . . But, once more, thanks to all you fans of Gilmer and Lumpkin! Oh, and by the way, I hope more of you will visit the last post in the series, which compares and contrast those two antebellum Georgia memoirists in a broader context than their views of Cherokee removal.
5) Another conundrum is the continuing popularity of my treatment of the “History of the Modern Civil Rights Movement” course, which I sort of disguised as “Teaching History ‘Backwards.’” It’s not like I wrote it as a straightforward treatment of the “teaching history backwards” idea. Rather, my effort was in response to a suggestion by our junior high principal at the time about how much fun it might be to teach a history course “backwards.” I agreed with him, but, looking over my teaching schedule, the only course I could envision teaching “backwards” was the Civil Rights course, a junior-senior elective, so I did. And the result somehow became a model for “teaching history backwards.” I can’t help but wonder what visitors think when they visit the site because of the post’s “cosmic” title, only to discover that the course described is rather narrow.
6) Finally, although they didn’t make the “top ten” list, I’ve got to wonder why the four part series on the history of “American republicanism” [here, here, here, and here] has become so popular in recent weeks. Once more, I’m guessing that History teachers have assigned projects to their classes about “American republicanism,” and their students have been doing, um, “research” on the Internet! Oh, well: a blogger can never know where his/her influence ends. . . . Kudos to all of you online “republicans”!
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If I’ve learned anything about blogging over the past five years, it is that once you’ve sent a post into cyberspace, there’s no telling how many (or few!) people will be interested in it, or why. My thanks to all who have visited “Retired But Not Shy” over the past five plus years. I hope you will continue to follow my musings on Georgia, Southern, and American history; the teaching of History; American culture’s “History Wars,” and, of course, the history of the Blues.
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For those interested in reading more about Georgia History, here are links to my books on the subject:
Rancorous Enmities and Blind Partialities: Parties and Factions in Georgia, 1807-1845 (University Press of America, 2015)
In Pursuit of Dead Georgians: One Historian’s Excursions into the History of His Adopted State (iUniverse, 2015)
Politics on the Periphery: Factions and Parties in Georgia, 1783-1806 (University of Delaware Press, 1986)
Hey Big Brother, congratulations on five years of blogging. And I’m so happy to have had a chance to collaborate with you.
Keep on writing, Little Brother
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Hi, there Little Brother,
Yeah, five years is a long time for a blog–and for the past year or so I’ve still had enough to say that I’ve actually increased the blog to twice a month!
I also enjoyed our collaboration–your offer took me by surprise, but I’m certainly glad we did it! I think it worked out very well, indeed!
Happy Birthday, Boss! Keep on pounding them out! I envy your time and space to write. Looking forward to lunch next week.
Thanks, Big Guy. In a few years, you, too, will have the “time and space to write.” I’m counting on you!.