I had a conversation with a friend yesterday about conference themes, specifically organizing themes for some of the really big conferences like the AHA, the OAH, the Berks, etc., as opposed to smaller conferences focused on more specific subfields. He wondered why historians bother with coming up with themes, when the themes tend to be so broad that pretty much anyone with a brain can figure out a way of making their research fit the chosen theme, which ends up making the conference about everything and no specific theme in the end. Continue reading
Attending a big conference like the Organization of American Historians is fun, especially when it’s in an pleasant place like San Francisco in the spring in mid-April. What I do is so marginal to the OAH conference that I’ve got lots of free time to attend panels and hear how experts in other subfields talk about their work, explore the city with old friends, and go to parties! Here are some observations and lessons learned, in no particular order:
- No matter how big the conference, you will never see some people, and you will continue to run into the same people again and again. Aside from the few early American feminists I kept running into at some of the same panels, over the course of three days every time I strolled through the hotel lobby or some of the other open spaces I saw either Roy Ritchie or Alice Kessler-Harris. I also never saw a colleague of mine who was there the whole time–not even at a distance.
- “Early America” now goes through most of the antebellum period, at least according to the OAH. Stop fighting it, Historiann and others who specialize in anything before the nineteenth century! I think I witnessed the single paper that included anything on the seventeenth century. These are now like the Dodo–and not even in much greater evidence at conferences like the Omohundro Institute annual conference. (Speaking of which: did you hear that they cancelled their party scheduled for Friday night when they learned that they had booked it in a club that doesn’t offer membership to women? Good for them, but that’s quite a huge loss on the party, in addition to what’s surely a major donor problem now.)
- (Aside on the temporal issue: I keep hearing that The Sixteenth Century Society is a fun group, and their understanding of the long sixteenth century is pretty long, from 1450 to 1660. Your thoughts? I was becoming kind of a semi-regular at the Western Society for French History and French Historical Studies, so I’m all for going European if that’s what it will take.)
- My source inside the Journal of American History editorial board meeting said Continue reading
Chauncey DeVega called me up a few weeks ago to talk about the Newtown murders, and in particular about the deep historical connection between white masculinity and firearms ownership. We also talked about why Americans can have very different perceptions of physical safety, their own rights, and American history itself. In any case, you can eavesdrop on our conversation: it’s available here at We Are Respectable Negroes and at the Daily Kos as well. You can also access the interview here directly and either listen to it or download the mp3. As you will hear, Chauncey is a very smart guy, and I struggled to keep up with him intellectually. I had a great time, and will eagerly listen to all of the interviews he’s podcasting on his blog.
In other news: Gerda Lerner, the pathbreaking women’s historian, died yesterday at age 92 (h/t to cgeye on the blog and Indyanna via a private e-mail for tipping me off.) I for one am glad that her connection to Communism is right there on page 1 of her New York Times obituary–Betty Friedan might be rolling over in her grave about the prominent discussion of the CP, but can’t we be okay already with the truth of the historical connections between Communism and other mid-twentieth century Progressive movements like Civil Rights and feminism? Continue reading
The 2013 annual conference of the Western Association of Women Historians will be at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon May 16-18. Individual paper and panel proposals are due Friday, September 14! Get your proposals in soon–the CFP and the forms are available here. The call is utterly broad, and remember: you don’t have to live in the U.S. or Canadian West in order to join or participate:
All fields and periods of history are welcome, as are roundtables on issues of interest to the historical profession. In order to foster discussions across national boundaries, we particularly encourage the submission of panels organized along thematic rather than national lines. All proposals will be vetted by a transnational group of scholars, and preference will be given to discussions of any topic across national boundaries. That said, single papers and panel proposals that fall within a single national or regional context will be given full consideration. . . [W]e particularly encourage proposols that include premodern time periods.
Who wouldn’t want a trip to Portlandia to round out the academic year? (Duh!!!) It’s a great place to meet people, network, and feel supported in your work. And this year will feature a very much deserved tribute to the career of Lois Banner. Continue reading
Every time I visit the Huntington Library and Gardens–which has always been in May and June–the beautiful show of blossoms continues into the streets of Pasadena. Lucky me!
At a conference this weekend, actually talking to people F2F rather than on blogs and over e-mail. Remarkable! (I need to get out of town more often.)
The conference planned in honor of Mary Beth Norton’s career now has a program posted online, as well as new information about accomodations for the big weekend, September 28 and 29, 2012.
Mary Beth Norton, Eric Foner, and Linda Gordon comment on Mark Fiege’s The Republic of Nature: An Environmental History of the United States (2012) at last week’s Organization of American Historians annual meeting. Unfortunately, this video doesn’t include the questions and comments from the audience.