One of the great things about being in the academy is reconnecting with friends you met in graduate school. I have had this feeling lately owing to my renewed contact with author Kalisha Buckhanon. She recently interviewed me about my book Remember Me to Miss Louisa: Hidden Black-White Intimacies in Antebellum America (Northern Illinous University Press, 2015). See the first installment in the three-part interview here on her Negression blog.
Life’s revolving doors should be unsurprising. I think now of the art collector who reached out last week and my reestablished ties with choreographer-musician Lacy James, whose music appears on the soundtrack for ” The Grant Green Story,” the documentary I co-directed and co-produced. Indeed, I am grateful for those doors. I am also grateful to work for a university that encourages interdisciplinary work. Perhaps it is one way that historians in particular can deal with declining enrollments amid students’ fears over job competition. Many have switched to majors that seem to promise a job.
But what if one’s job relied on various skill sets? Wouldn’t it be great to have an occupation that invites attention to asking questions, research and being creative all at once (things we get to do in History)? One of my students shared a link to a Ted Talk on being a multipotentialite that possibly supports such a position. Check it out up top.
Modernity, Emilie Wapnick seems to suggest in this Ted Talk, required expertise in ways that may have never worked during the Renaissance age when people routinely had many callings. That said, I prefer the flexibility that being a history professor offers. We get to relay stories about the past in so many interesting ways. I just saw digital history review by my colleague Joshua Rothman in the Journal of American History. The profession sees the possibilities of alternate ways of offering history even as it demands certain rigor in traditional approaches like books. Yippee.