Monday, January 4, 2016

Things I Wrote in 2015

In the past year I devoted most of my time to finishing up my PhD coursework and studying for my comprehensive exams (ok, ok, and also to reorganizing my fantasy basketball league into an auction draft format). I also wrote a few things for various online and offline outlets. Continuing with the practice I started last year, here is a brief summary of my non-coursework public writing for the year, organized thematically.

Nebraska
I published one peer-reviewed article in 2015: "From the Pulpit to the Press: Frank Crane’s Omaha, 1892-1896." The article appeared in Nebraska History. You can read an excerpt here or read about the inspiration for the article here at the blog. One unintended consequence of my research: I discovered that a few of Flannery O'Connor's biographers have misidentified her "favorite Protestant theologian."

My favorite piece I wrote in 2015 was published by Religion & Politics as part of their "States of the Union" project. Here's how Religion & Politics explains the project: "We gathered writers from around the country to tell us about where they discovered religion and politics in their states. Both part of a union and cultures unto their own, these states reveal stories of people, places and histories of the American experience." My contribution to the series was titled "Nebraska: A Cornhusker Prays with FCA." Basically, I got to combine all of my favorite things in writing the article: Nebraska, sports, religion. The process of researching and writing that article also played an important role in my decision to change my dissertation topic (but more on that another time, perhaps).

My favorite blog post from 2015: The Rest of Tom Osborne's "Currens Story." For those who don't know, Tom Osborne was Nebraska's legendary head football coach from the 1970s through most of the 1990s. Sometime in the fall, I was taking a break from my prelim reading by doing a bit of dissertation research. As it so happens, my dissertation research involves (among other things) reading about Tom Osborne. While reading, I came across Osborne's familiar story about how a man he identifies as "Rev. Currens" played an inspirational role in his grandfather's life. I decided to do some armchair research to see what I could find out about this Rev. Currens character, and a few hours later I had a Notepad document full of notes and a blog post set to publish. As an added bonus, when I went back home to Nebraska for the holidays, my wife's grandmother told me that she usually doesn't read most of the things I write, but she actually read and enjoyed the Currens post.

Sometimes I get the urge to do completely unnecessary and methodologically amateurish research. My post on Comparing the Religious Affiliation of Omaha's Elites with Omaha's Population, 1910 was one such example. The title of the blog post basically sums up what I was trying to do. It also features a bar graph, if you're into that sort of thing.