Friday, February 21, 2014

Charles Savidge in Nebraska History

I just received word from the good folks at Nebraska History that my article on Charles Savidge, a Progressive Era holiness movement pastor from Omaha, has been posted in PDF format online (it was originally published in the summer 2013 issue).

You can access the article yourself here. And yes, the mustache is absurd, even by Gilded Age standards.

My article is a fairly straightforward biography piece, focusing especially on Savidge's particular holiness movement ideology (or theology if you prefer) and how it manifested itself in various unique reform activities. In a lot of ways, my research on Savidge was the doorway through which I was able to enter into the world of American religion in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. By trying to understand the world as Savidge encountered it, I became interested in exploring other questions from the era: the social gospel, religion in the American West, urbanization, romance and love, mass media marketing strategies, interracial religious spaces, and more.

When I re-read the piece earlier today, I couldn't help but wince at my sentence construction, at the scholarship I did not interact with, and at all the other instigators of published-writers remorse. Yet, I also knew that I did probably the best I could for where I was at two years ago as a scholar. I've since started work towards my PhD and have continued to learn and grow and develop. Hopefully in two years I'll look back at work I am doing now with similar feelings of accomplishment and sheepishness.

By the way, for anyone who might be interested, I've previously posted a number of short pieces on Charles Savidge here on the blog. You can access them by clicking this link.   

Monday, February 17, 2014

Zach Lowe, Graduate Student in History

It all started a few weeks ago when my favorite NBA writer Zach Lowe posted a piece on Grantland titled "The Life and Death of Fandom." In the article Lowe wrote about his transition from being a die-hard Boston Celtics fan to a dispassionate reporter of NBA basketball. The Celtics now are dead to Lowe, as far as he's concerned. Wins or losses elicit no emotions. But he used to have a favorite player with the Celtics, back in the 2000s when Paul Pierce "was struggling to find himself" and Lowe felt the same. The old flicker of fandom came back briefly for Lowe last month when he watched a Paul Pierce tribute video before the Celtics-Nets game, leading him to write the piece. 

The article offered a uniquely personal look at Lowe, a writer who Bill Simmons jokes is like Spock due to his cold, calculating basketball analysis. And hidden within the piece were some innocuous biographical details. Lowe wrote: "I was a wannabe journalist who didn’t have the guts to pursue the career path, so I hopped around in random directions -- from teaching high school, to chasing a PhD in history, to covering high school football in Virginia just to see how it felt."

Lowe's revelation that he was once a PhD student in history fascinated me. Maybe it was because I already admired Lowe's writing, and here was a connection. In a weird way I was connecting to Lowe in the same way that he had connected to Pierce - as a fan. I was looking at someone I admire, and trying to see in myself similarities.

The story could end there, but twitter and my shamelessness (combined with that of fellow PhD students) intervened. I decided to make it my mission to figure out where Lowe had studied history and what he had studied. After a few failed attempts in the past few weeks to get a response, Lowe was finally gracious enough to play along and briefly answer my pestering inquiries. I've posted the relevant screen shots below, because why the hell not? 

It all began with this: