Matthew Frye Jacobson, interviewed in the video posted here, is the William Robertson Coe Professor of American Studies and History at Yale University. He is the outgoing president of the American Studies Association. He's also the
Jacobson was one of the keynote speakers at the Nordic Association for American Studies conference I attended this past weekend at Karlstad University in Sweden. Jacobson's talk dealt with a fascinating website cum archive he and others have developed called the Historian's Eye. This expansive visual and oral history project is described on the site:
Beginning as a modest effort in early 2009 to capture the historic moment of our first black president’s inauguration in photographs and interviews, the "Our Better History” project and the Historian’s Eye website have evolved into an expansive collection of some 3000+ photographs and an audio archive addressing Obama’s first term in office, the ’08 economic collapse and its fallout, two wars, the raucous politics of healthcare reform, the emergence of a new right-wing formation in opposition to Obama, the politics of immigration, Wall Street reform, street protests of every stripe, the BP oil spill, the escalation of anti-Muslim sentiment nationwide and the emergence of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
I caught up with Jacobson in Karlstad to discuss his work and how he became a historian. In the interview above he speaks about his interest in cultural history, his early understanding of the possibilities of historical study, and describes how he chose to work in the field.
For other interviews in this ongoing series, click here.