Monthly Archives: January 2015

Kansas: An Ode to the Prairie

Today is Kansas Day. My home state was founded January 29 1861. Most people think of the state as dull, boring, flyover country. But those of us who grew up there are keenly aware of its understated beauty. On Facebook and other social media today, I saw so many of my fellow Kansans posting about our homestate’s birthday. It’s truly a unique place that few people undersand unless they’ve lived there and experienced it. It’s difficult to articulate why the state is so beautiful for many of us natives. This beautiful passage, however, gives you a glimpse of why so many of us native Kansans love our home state.

To have slept the night under the skies while prairie night-winds slipped past on tiptoe as fearing to wake you; when the dews were lighting their lamps on every grass-blade for the pageant of the morning; when the prairie-wolf flung his hoidenish voice out in the quiet sky, while the smells of prairie and sky were so delicious as to render Arabian perfumes garish things; with solemn sky exalted over you, with you prairie bed stretching from sky to sky and quite big enough to stretch on–well, than this no bed-room is nobler, nor is any so noble. To lie and drift to dreams slowly, like a receding night-bird’s voice, into the prairie and the sky of sleep; and the prairie has had its way. The prairie is the sea of the land.”

It was written by Bishop William Alfred Quayle in his book The Prairie and the Sea (pg 49). Bishop Quayle was a Kansan. He attended Baker University and later served as the school’s president. He became a well-known Methodist Bishop and writer. A lot of his work focused on nature and poetry, and the beauty of the world as a reflection of God’s beauty and power. His fondness for Kansas and it’s prairies is clear from this passage. It reflects the feeling so many of us have about the Flint Hills and Tallgrass Prairies. There is beauty in the openness, the sweeping winds, and the never ending horizons. I’m proud to be a Kansan.

Blogging & the College Football Playoff

I’m trying something a bit new over on the Sport in American History blog today. We want to take advantage of current events as both teachable moments and ways to lure in new readers. This week we’re focusing on the new College Football Playoff to share the history of college football. We’re kicking things off today with a special-double post.

The first post is a historiographical overview of college football’s relationship with mass media and the influence of money on the sport. It advances an argument while also surveying important books in the field. One of our goals for the blog this year is to do a better job of introducing our readers to sports history literature. Linking a current event with a historiographical post that explains it is one of the ways we hope to accomplish this.

“The Road to the Playoffs: College Football, Mass Media, and Money”

The second post outlines the history of the college football postseason and the changing methods of determining the sport’s national champions. While there are some historiographic elements to this post, it is mostly just an assemblage of facts that explain how we got to the playoff. It is more narrative driven, though at times it simply lists facts. It’s not a deep exploratory post nor is it argumentative. It tells facts that are familiar to some, but probably not everyone.

“College Football and the Postseason: From Polls to Bowls to Playoffs”

I hope our readers find them interesting and appealing. Later in the week we’ll have another post that looks at Southern football culture and social media reactions to the playoff games. I’m really looking forward to that post as an almost rapid-reaction piece mixed with some cultural explanation. If all goes well, I’d like to see more of these double posts and week-long current event themes. I took the lead on this one because college football is my area of research, but I could see someone else doing something on the Super Bowl, the Women’s World Cup this summer, or even Major League Baseball’s opening day.