It was such a good feeling rolling my suitcase across campus today. Whenever I have a suitcase, it usually means I am picking up books – lots of books – from the library. My destination today was the University of Alabama’s McLure Library, which is filled with books for the School of Education (where I am happily teaching my “American Civilization to 1865” class in Graves Hall this fall).
McLure also has all of our sport history books. Makes sense as it is for all intents and purposes across the street from Bryant-Denny stadium where our football games are played.
As I have written many times on this blog, my current research project finds me exploring racial and spatial politics on the Florida peninsula between Andrew Jackson’s encounters with the Seminoles to the rise of the University of Miami football program in the 1980s. That query finds me also exploring the migration of people of African descent to the state of Florida. In all three cases, one can see why space matters when it comes to how oppressed bodies claim power. In all three cases, one can see complex interactions between the dominant culture and oppressed groups, a key idea in my last research project concerning the hidden black-white intimacies in antebellum America.
What is so cool about the present project is being an avid sports fan while thinking deeply about the work before me.
Suddenly, my tweets and comments on social media aren’t just part of my leisure time, but a way I am also being very observant of the world around me and how it fits into a longer history of how people encounter one another.
Meanwhile, I was so happy Alabama got into the playoffs. All this as I also watched UM lose to Clemson. They will be back next year. In honor of their success this year, I wore my Miami football shirt today.
When I wear this shirt, I pay homage not only to my alma mater, but also my hometown, Miami, which figures greatly into my research. It will be great over the holiday break to continue working through many historiographies and refining an in-progress outline and earlier writing including an essay reeling in the spatial politics of my time in Iceland this past summer.
Along the way, I’ll be thinking of the interdisciplinary aspects of my work (some of the studies to which I will be attentive are sociological. I have not had much experience with such approaches since my comp exams and undergrad days. Indeed, while a student at UM, I spent a semester being a participant-observer of a Little League softball program in Kendall, an unincorporated community south of Miami and not too far from UM’s campus in Coral Gables).
One day at a time on it all.
One highlight of the journey toward completing this latest project without question will be walking through the stacks, something I wish I could get my students to do as they conduct their own research. In my “Bebop to Hip Hop: Music and Young America” class this semester, I required my students to meet me in our campus’ Gorgas Library explicitly to put them inside a space whose role and meaning has changed over the years.
When I was a kid, I loved going to the library. Today, it’s too easy to think everything we need can be accessed with the swipe of a finger. There’s nothing like looking at the titles on books and discovering new authors and approaches.