U.S. Intellectual History Blog

So Long, 2014

Well, we are wrapping up another year at the USIH blog.

As a genre of writing, blogging tends to the stylistically informal and the seemingly ephemeral. Of course we all know by now that the internet is forever, and every error is immediate to Google. But every base hit is immediate to Google too, and we have had a few of those this year – and maybe even a few home runs. Still, the exigencies of blogging — and, yes, there are exigencies; “informal” is not a synonym for “easy” – mean that whatever is at the top of the queue won’t stay there for very long. The conversation will shift from day to day, week to week, blogger to blogger, commenter to commenter. As academic discourse goes, it’s a fairly fast-moving current – even if we do sometimes get caught up in the occasional recursive eddy.

In any case, with our rotating roster of regular bloggers and our open door for guest authors, a year of blogging at USIH amounts to a lot – a lot of writing, a lot of thinking out loud, a lot of thinking things through and hashing things out together (most often courteously, like good little well-behaved, decorous and dignified historians – but sometimes not so much), a lot of work, and often a lot of fun. We’ve had some great posts and some rip-roaring discussions, some meditative essays, a few sharp arguments, and so many thoughtful and encouraging and helpful conversations.

So tonight, as 2014 winds down to its close, I wanted to invite our readers – or at least those of you who are not out at some fabulous shindig to ring in the New Year, but are instead chilling (or trying to stay warm!) at home – to revisit our work here at the blog over this past year.

By “our work,” I mean more than just the blog posts – though that’s work aplenty! Our work includes the collective efforts of everyone who participates in this community of discourse — our regular writers, our guest bloggers, our commenters, and even our silent readers. We know you’re tuning in. The gift of your time, your attentiveness to the discussions here – that readerly gift of thoughtful, intentional presence is such a generous and encouraging gesture. Thank you.

And thank you, a thousand times over, to my fellow bloggers. What an unbelievable boon to count these people as colleagues and friends. Here are links for all the bloggers who posted for USIH in 2014. Clicking on any of these names will take you to all the posts published by that person.

Ben Alpers

Kurt Newman

Eran Zelnik

Rivka Maizlish

Andrew Hartman

Robin Marie Averbeck

Tim Lacy

Andy Seal

Ray Haberski

L.D. Burnett

Robert Greene II

In addition to fine work from the authors listed above, this blog has also published outstanding contributions from a range of guest bloggers. Most of these essays, I think, were tagged as “guest posts” – you can read all the posts filed under that category by following this link:

Guest Posts

Also, this blog has hosted a number of excellent book reviews. You can read those posts at this link:

Book Reviews

If there was a post or post series from this past year that you especially enjoyed, please feel free to mention it in the comments below.  But please know, whether you ever comment or not, you are appreciated, reader, and so very welcome here.

4 Thoughts on this Post

  1. For the record, it was (and is) still 2014 here in the great (and very cold!) state of Texas, when this retrospective post went up. But for those of you on Eastern Time, or across the pond, or across the international date line, Happy New Year! I hope it’s a good one for you.

  2. L.D.,
    Happy new year to you, and I just want to say what a pleasure it is to read this kind of post after spending time this evening elsewhere in the blogosphere (in particular at one fairly well-known blog that I think I won’t mention by name). There’s a lot to be said for respectful, courteous discussion, which as you rightly suggest is one of the characteristics of this blog, and in my view one of the many good things about it. Thanks to you and your colleagues for your work.

  3. Louis, thanks. Happy New Year to you too.

    As you know, we have our occasional bench-clearing incident around here — though even in those situations there’s rarely ad hominem stuff going on. That probably has a lot to do with the disciplinary focus of the blog, and its connection to a professional society — we’re all (more or less) identifying with a not numerically huge subfield, so it’s a good bet that our paths do (or will) cross in real life in professional settings. That awareness probably helps put a damper on the flame-war vibe that often accompanies online discussion. (Or maybe we’re just a quiescent bunch?)

    Usually the worst we get (or give) around here is the occasional bit of passive-aggressive posturing. That’s the flip side of academic courtesy and decorum, of course — the supercilious, punctilious observation of the niceties of professional discourse as a means of signaling not collegial regard but eye-rolling disdain. But 99 times out of a 100, I think, when we’re “respectfully disagreeing” around here, we really are respectful of perspectival differences and are offering arguments in good faith. That has been my experience, anyhow.

  4. Thanks, LD, for collecting all of this in one post. I haven’t yet given any thought to my best or worst posts from this past year. And I wish, sometimes, that we are/were more often caught in “recursive eddies” (productive ones, that is). – TL

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