Truth be told: I’ve been putting off updating this About page for a couple years. For one thing, it’s a challenging “genre.” For another, this blog has been lying dormant so revision wasn’t all that pressing. But the time has come so here we go.
This blog began in June 2011 as a result of a public humanities institute I attended while completing my dissertation in American history at the University of Delaware. I was a quick convert to digital humanities and, to my complete surprise, took to blogging. Ships on the Shore, as I called it, never had a huge readership but it was an unqualified success for me—I am convinced that writing and maintaining this blog helped me write a better dissertation in less time than if I spent those precious hours rereading some document or revising some chapter. I spent the 2 ½ years after graduation teaching high school social studies and maritime studies in a couple of New Orleans charter schools. It was the dramatic change I was looking for. It was also one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. I’m still processing that time, but it’s safe to say I learned more about my city and community, teaching, learning, living, and, sadly, dying than I bargained for. Thank you to my students, fellow teachers, and administrators—ya’ll are heroes.
Ships on the Shore went on holiday but I never stopped researching and writing. As a result, I’ve got a few non-coastal/shipwreck projects coming down the line (who would have thought?) and a chapter coming out in a soon-to-be-published volume on maritime cultural landscapes. I did my best to stay abreast of developments in coastal history and the digital humanities. Shipwrecks… well it’s near impossible to avoid thinking about them. Earlier this month I began an appointment as a Postdoctoral Associate at the University of West Florida in lovely Pensacola. (This seems a wise place to note that Ships on the Shore remains my personal blog and, as such, does not reflect the opinions of my employer.) I’m working on a couple of exciting projects, many with a “coastal” theme or focus, and I look forward to sharing them with you in the months ahead. I’m also turning that dissertation into a proper book. I’m hoping this blog will help me as much with the book as it did with the dissertation.
If you’ve made it this far: thank you. Your comments, questions, suggestions, and “views” make work that is notoriously (some say perversely) isolating… social. Please read, comment, click around. Send me an email. Tweet a comment. Forward a post. Tell me what I got wrong; what I missed; what you liked. I truly appreciate it all.
My name is Jamin Wells and I am a Ph.D. candidate in American history, which is to say I made it through classes and exams but I’m still working on the dissertation. I’ve been researching and writing for about a year. Along the way I’ve learned a thing or two about how to—and not to—research shipwrecks and the shore. (No doubt I have much more to learn!) Even better, I’ve found some really great “stuff” hidden in archives, print media, and (of course) online. This blog is my attempt to share what I’ve learned, show off some of the cool stuff I’ve found, and work out ideas about how shipwrecks helped make the world we live in. It will also be a place to post and comment on shipwrecks in today’s news. And above all, I hope you will contribute–share your shipwreck story with us, comment on a post, or forward this blog to a friend or colleague.
A caveat—this is my first blog and until a few weeks ago I was a skeptic about the use of blogs, twitter, &c., &c., to do anything more than bloviate about contemporary events. After completing the two-week “Public Engagement and Material Culture Institute” (PEMCI) at the University of Delaware, I saw the “digital light.” Interactive sessions and site visits to several cultural institutions hammered home the seemingly obvious point that Web 2.0 is a central, arguably “the” way to share academic research with a broader audience. I also learned just how difficult it could be to speak to a non-academic audience. So please excuse the missteps I’m bound to make, join me in a conversation about shipwrecks and the shore, and look out for some new (aka non-blog) Web 2.0-shipwreck fun in the months to come!
Here is some of my other work: