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.

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.