Digital American Studies – The ASB Editors’ Favorite Picks (Part I)

By Sabrina Völz

Cred­it: “Netiquette1” by Helen DeWaard

Every­one is writ­ing about the shift to dig­i­tal teach­ing in wake of the coro­n­avirus cri­sis. The focus on Twit­ter and diverse blogs seems to be main­ly on how to use var­i­ous con­fer­enc­ing and dig­i­tal tools, such as Zoom, Flip Grid, and Padlet. Since both Maria and I live in some­what rur­al areas with unbe­liev­ably poor inter­net con­nec­tions, com­plete home office is not a pos­si­bil­i­ty for us, and we are won­der­ing how many stu­dents will have prob­lems to use tools that require a high-speed inter­net con­nec­tion. Those stu­dents won’t have the oppor­tu­ni­ty, though, to make use of uni­ver­si­ty resources as we can. For that rea­son alone – and we are sure there are many oth­ers – most of the advice columns say to keep dig­i­tal class­es sim­ple and syn­chro­nous learn­ing lim­it­ed. We would, there­fore, like to offer our read­ers a few sug­ges­tions for the teach­ing of Amer­i­can Stud­ies that may ease the bur­den. Why re-cre­ate the wheel when you don’t need to?

One of my favorite resources is Aca­d­e­m­ic Earth. Found­ed already in 2009, Aca­d­e­m­ic Earth was the first to estab­lish a col­lec­tion of free online col­lege sem­i­nars from the world’s top uni­ver­si­ties, such as Har­vard, Stan­ford, and Prince­ton. Since I reg­u­lar­ly teach African Amer­i­can cul­ture and lit­er­a­ture, I can whole­heart­ed­ly rec­om­mend Clay­borne Carson’s course “African Amer­i­can His­to­ry: The Mod­ern Free­dom Strug­gle.” Car­son is Pro­fes­sor of Amer­i­can His­to­ry and Direc­tor of the Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. Research and Edu­ca­tion Insti­tute at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty. He offers a 17-part lec­ture series that opens with W.E.B. DuBois and clos­es with Barack Obama’s Amer­i­can Dream. It also includes a num­ber of pow­er­ful female activists and lead­ers, such as Ella Bak­er, Rosa Parks, and Angela Davis.

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You can find the entire lec­ture series here. With New York City so much in the news these days, anoth­er course that may spark your inter­est is “His­to­ry of New York City: A Social His­to­ry” with Daniel J. Walkowitz. Then there’s also “Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture I: Begin­nings to the Civ­il War” with Cyrus Patell and “The Holo­caust in Film and Lit­er­a­ture” with Todd Pres­ner, just to name a few. Aca­d­e­m­ic Earth gives peo­ple all over the world a chance to hear lec­tures from some of the most pres­ti­gious schol­ars the Unit­ed States has to offer – and what could be bet­ter than that?

Next week, Maria will con­tin­ue our series with dig­i­tal mate­r­i­al on human and crit­i­cal ani­mal studies.

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