AHA Roundup: The Rest of the Web
David Austin Walsh is the editor of the History News Network.
For HNN's coverage of the 2013 AHA Annual Meeting, click here.
Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Credit: Wiki Commons.
- Jennifer Schuessler in the New York Times
- Marc Perry in the Chronicle of Higher Education
- Coleen Flaherty in Inside Higher Ed
NEW ORLEANS — Some 4,000 historians descended on New Orleans on Thursday for the American Historical Association’s four-day annual meeting, replacing the chants of departing Sugar Bowl revelers with more sober talk of job interviews, departmental politics, and — at least in the official panels — the past itself.
As usual, the meeting’s 300-plus sessions touched on contemporary issues like climate change, the 2012 presidential election, and the Arab Spring, along with more purely scholarly topics big (“Horstory: Equines and Humans in Africa, Asia and North America”) and small (“Trash and Treasure: The Significance of Used Goods in America, 1880-1950″). But for many in attendance, the most urgent question was the state of the historical profession itself in an era of budget cuts and declining humanities enrollments....
Kenneth Pomeranz thinks big. His 2000 book, The Great Divergence, reopened the discussion around a large question: Why did Europe industrialize first? Now, as the newly installed president of the American Historical Association, Mr. Pomeranz will confront major challenges facing the future of his profession. The University of Chicago historian, a China scholar, discussed his goals in an interview at the association's annual conference here. What follows is an edited and condensed version of that conversation.
Q. What's the general state of the history profession right now?
A. Intellectually, the state is as healthy as it's ever been. I can sit in a library at a third-tier university now and digitally access more sources in more languages and search them faster than I could have done in the library at Harvard or Yale 20 years ago. That's an astonishing thing. And we've learned a tremendous amount over the last few decades about how to intelligently read incomplete records. We sometimes think of history as not making progress, because it doesn't come to definitive answers about lots of things. But it does make progress. We are better equipped to tell richer stories about more things with more accuracy....
Michael Pollan is a widely read and influential writer about food in America. On Thursday night, speaking at the annual conference of the American Historical Association, he put a blunt question to academic historians:
"Why do people like me who use your work end up selling more books than you do?"
Mr. Pollan, a journalism professor and author of best sellers like The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, pointed out that works of history often end up on best-seller lists. But much of the time those best sellers are not written by professional historians. And when it comes to important questions about how things came to be the way they are, he said, historians have ceded territory to other disciplines, like behavioral economics and social psychology....
NEW ORLEANS -- Much attention has been devoted in recent years to the the question of whether humanities graduate programs adequately prepare students for careers outside academe. But panelists at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting also focused on another question: whether Ph.D. programs adequately prepare students for “the oldest alternative profession”: teaching.
History professors spend four times as many hours teaching as researching, said Robert Townsend, deputy director of the AHA, but graduate programs don’t reflect that ratio. Rather, he joked, he and other history Ph.D.s have traditionally been expected to learn about teaching like they learn about sex – “on the street.” Additionally, he said, an overwhelming number of new Ph.D.s -- 85 percent -- report an intention to enter academe....
NEW ORLEANS – Facing pressure to justify their discipline in an increasingly job-oriented higher education culture, history department chairs on Thursday discussed everyday challenges and how to stay relevant during an American Historical Association annual meeting session.
Despite differential tuition proposals that would be punitive to the humanities, institutional metrics that can seem to value enrollment and graduation rates over all else, a lack of tenure-track positions, larger class sizes and shrinking salaries, among other obstacles, panelists advocated a proactive rather than a reactive approach to preserving the discipline....
- Michael Hattem: The AHA and the Future of the Profession
- John Fea: It is Time for a President of the American Historical Association Who Does Not Work at a Research University
- On the Quiet Shore: On AHA Interviews
- Official AHA Blog
- The Way of Improvement Leads Home
- Tenured Radical
- Lincoln A. Mullen
- On the Quiet Shore
- Exploring the Study of Religious History
- Junto Blog
- Twitter Archive for #AHA2013
- CFParticipation: Help DHNow Gather Blog Posts Related to #AHA2013 and #MLA13
- Goodbye New Orleans!
- Council Decisions: January 3 and 6, 2013
- The Mosque in Modern Europe
- Bonhomie and Banter Mark 127th Business Meeting
- Sunday Overview - 127th Annual Meeting
- Thinking Historically about the 2012 Election
- Bridging Cultures: Strengthening Introductory History Courses
- The Entrepreneurial Historian
- Music in New Orleans
- Saturday Overview - 127th Annual Meeting
- Prizes, Awards, and Honors to Be Conferred at the 127th Annual Meeting
- The Restaurantgoer: Dining in New Orleans
- Annual Meeting Day One: Historians Address Challenges to the Discipline
- New Orleans - January 3-6, 2013
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The AHA’s 127th annual meeting has come to a close. Thank you to everyone who participated in the meeting; presenting, attending sessions, interviewing, exhibiting, tweeting, and more. We hope to see all of you, as well as those who couldn’t make it this year, at next year’s meeting in Washington, D.C. (January 2-5, 2014).
Later this week, AHA Today will be featuring more recaps of sessions as well as a roundup of coverage of the meeting by bloggers and news organizations.
At the semi-annual meeting of the Council of the American Historical Association held Thursday and Sunday, the governing board made the following decisions...
One of the interesting aspects of the panel entitled “The Mosque in Modern Europe” is that it intended to look at place as a locus of debates about national or cultural character, and in particular to recognize the built landscape as a site of anxiety about European identity. The panelists each focused on a different county in which the construction of a mosque or even its imagined presence provoked a highly specific set of local responses that revealed much about the mutability of national identity.
Mosques have historically been constructed in urban areas, so it was fitting that each of the papers focused on the urban image of a mosque or its trace. Although the presenters were hampered by the lack of AV equipment to show the images essential to their arguments, they gamely handed out printed versions of their unseen PowerPoints, so that the audience could follow along.
Business meetings are inevitably dull affairs, with long-winded reports filled with soporific statistics. AHA business meetings are mostly not very different (except on the rare occasion when some controversial issue comes up for discussion). But the 127th Business Meeting of the AHA held on Saturday, January 5, 2013, was, indeed, an exception to the rule, replete as it was with bonhomie and banter (and limericks too) even as serious business was conducted as diligently as it needed to be.
The meeting did begin (at the scheduled time of 4:45 p.m.) on a somber note, because soon after declaring the meeting open, President William Cronon called for a moment’s silence in memory of Gerda Lerner, the distinguished, trailblazing historian and feminist, who had passed away on Wednesday, January 2, 2013, at the age of 92.
It is the last day of the AHA’s 127th annual meeting, but there are plenty of sessions and events going on today.
AHA Executive Director James Grossman opened a well-attended roundtable on the 2012 presidential election with a statement that he would like to do for historians what Freakonomics did for economists. Simply put, he’d like to convince the public that historians have something to say about everything.
Community College Humanities Association
Friday, January 4, 2013: 2:30 PM-4:30 PM
Iberville Room (New Orleans Marriott)
The Community College Humanities Association hosted a session Friday afternoon on its ongoing Bridging Cultures project, “Advancing the Humanities at Community Colleges,” funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). This curriculum and faculty development project is composed of 18 two-year colleges chosen from a pool of 78 proposals. Faculty members work with a mentor, as well as an administrator from their own school, to further reinforce this process. The project hopes to serve as a national model to strengthen community college education and at the end publish a white paper for others to follow and implement in their own campuses. Diane Eisenberg (Community College Humanities Association) chaired the session and David Berry provided background information on the project and provided comment. The focus of the project—strengthening community college education nationwide—hinges on making connections with the outside world and other disciplines, to better serve the diverse student populations.
As part of the “Malleable PhD” series, the panelists on “The Entrepreneurial Historian” gathered to present not just an alternative career path to academia, but a path that exists in a supposedly alternative universe—that of for-profit history. If there was one thing that all the panelists agreed on though (and there were actually quite a few things), it was that this opposition is a false one.
The panel’s lively and professionally diverse presentations quickly dispatched any lingering doubts about the ability of historians to move successfully into the entrepreneurial space. As each participant talked through their business story, they made clear the many aspects of historians’ training that translate well in a world that prizes developing ideas, and growing those ideas into successful businesses.
The following post can also be found in the annual meeting supplement, both online and handed out during the meeting.
In New Orleans," says pianist, composer, and producer Allen Toussaint, "the music isn’t just in the clubs or on the dance floor, it’s in everything. You can feel it in the street, see it in the buildings and taste it in the food." AHA meeting attendees would do well to follow Toussaint’s lead and experience the Crescent City through its music. Walk around, and you’ll encounter it, especially in the French Quarter. On most days, a brass band performs in front of the Cabildo on Jackson Square and a jazz ensemble plays at the corner of Royal and St. Peter streets. As you wander, you’ll hear everything from a solitary accordionist to an eight-piece band.
Attend the AHA Business Meeting today from 4:45–6:00 p.m. in the La Galerie 6 (New Orleans Marriott) at the 127th annual meeting to hear reports from members of the AHA’s Council, divisions, and committees.
Read on for more about today’s sessions, films, and receptions at the 127th annual meeting.
The following is a list of the recipients of the various awards, prizes, and honors that will be presented at the General Meeting of the American Historical Association on Friday, January 4, 2013, in La Galerie of the New Orleans Marriott. The full citations of the prize and award committees will be printed in the booklet distributed at the General Meeting, as well as in the February 2013 issue of Perspectives on History.
The Theodore Roosevelt-Woodrow Wilson Award
Richard Gilder, New York, NY...
The following post can also be found in the annual meeting supplement, both online and handed out during the meeting.
The restaurants and eating houses of New Orleans are famous, and deservedly so! The typical…restaurant is a bare room with pine tables and a sanded or saw-dusted floor. Not much for looks are they, but the food they serve is most delicious.
—John Martin Hammond (1916)
Kolb’s Restaurant, New Orleans, ca. 1900. Courtesy of the Louisiana State Museum/1994.003.35.05.
There is no shortage of splurge-worthy restaurants in the Crescent City, from the venerable Galatoire’s to John Besh’s flagship, Restaurant August. Meeting attendees on a budget, however, need not feel deprived—just as it was a century ago, New Orleans is known for mouthwatering meals on the cheap. Pick up a po-boy at a corner store and picnic alongside the Mississippi or enjoy a plate of red beans and rice at a local watering hole.
The centrality of food in New Orleans can be gauged by the popularity of a long-running radio show focused on cuisine. Food entrepreneur and restaurant reviewer Tom Fitzmorris talks with callers about dining out and cooking from 4:00– 7:00 p.m. each weekday on 1350-AM. And check out Poppy Tooker’s Louisiana Eats! at WWNO-FM, the blog Blackened Out and the web site Eater NOLA.
Two separate sessions on the first day of the AHA’s 127th Annual Meeting struck a few common chords. In “Tuning the History Curriculum: The Vision and the Reality,” John Bezis-Selfa described a discipline increasingly “pressed to articulate the value of what we do.” And in “Challenges Facing History Departments in the Twenty-First Century: Perspectives from Department Chairs,” Christy Jo Snider noted that historians are more and more expected to “justify” their vocation.
From both sessions emerged a sense that the job of being a historian today includes actively helping to maintain the discipline by joining the project to explain and defend it. One panelist on the “Tuning” session, Kenneth Nivison, used philosophy as a cautionary example: the degree of marginalization suffered by that discipline is a feasible future for ours if historians don’t find a way to respond to the demands for demonstrable value.
The exploration of digital methods in historical scholarship has become a central theme at history conferences over the last few years, including at our own annual meeting. In Thursday night’s plenary session, “The Public Practice of History in and for a Digital Age,” AHA president Bill Cronon, together with a group of five panelists, grappled with the various ways that a growing digital presence is changing the practice of history and the profession itself. Cronon introduced the panelists—Ed Ayers, Claire Potter, Michael Pollan, Niko Pfund, and Mary Louise Roberts—by explaining that each has a rich understanding of a particular part of this issue, and none is afraid to think creatively and out loud about a range of new media and their problems, from blogging to Twitter to e-publishing.
Today’s main event at the 127th annual meeting is the General Meeting (8:30–10:30 p.m., La Galerie (New Orleans Marriott), featuring Bill Cronon’s presidential address and the presentation of the recipients of the AHA’s 2013 prizes and awards, including the ninth Theodore Roosevelt-Woodrow Wilson Public Service Award to Richard Gilder.
We are happy to announce the official winners of the AHA’s first “Name that Drink!” contest.
The winners are:
Revise and Resubmit
Tweed and Tonic
Today is the first day of the American Historical Association’s 127th annual meeting, being held this year in New Orleans.
Whether you are attending the meeting, or following along from home, welcome to this special series of posts from the meeting.
Everyone can stay up-to-date on annual meeting sessions and events and get recaps today through Sunday, January 6, here on AHA Today.
The AHA’s 127th annual meeting takes place in New Orleans this Thursday, January 3 through Sunday, January 6, 2013. Whether you’re at the meeting or following along from home, visit AHA Today online for daily reports on sessions and events.
- Guess Who Was the Top Tweeter at the AHA?
- AHA Blog Wrap-Up
- It is Time for a President of the American Historical Association Who Does Not Work at a Research University
- Dispatches from the AHA in New Orleans (8)
- Dispatches from the AHA in New Orleans (7)
- The "Way of Improvement Leads Home" AHA Blogging Team
- The Burden of Church History
- Clio's Craft
- Dispatches from the AHA in New Orleans (6)
- Dispatches from the AHA in New Orleans (5)
- Cronon Delivers a Sermon Disguised as an AHA Presidential Address
- History News Network Wraps Up Day 1 at the AHA
- Christian Origins of the American Century
- The AHA in the Blogosphere
- Publishing About American Places
- Friday at the AHA
- Dispatches from the AHA in New Orleans (4)
- The Public Practice of History in and for a Digital Age
- Dispatches from the AHA in New Orleans (3)
- Dispatches from the AHA in New Orleans (2)
- Hello Big Easy
- The AHA for American Religious Historians
- Dispatches from the AHA in New Orleans (1)
- Mullen: "Talk to the Least Important Person in the Room"
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There were 4400 tweets (and counting?) tweeted at the American Historical Association meeting in New Orleans this past weekend. (That is close to one tweet for every person in attendance).
According to Michael Regoli's database, I was apparently the top tweeter at the conference!
Here are some of AHA-New Orleans posts that have been published since Friday noon. The twitter feed (#aha2013) has been on fire, but don't forget the bloggers. They have been active. Here is a taste:
AHA Today remains the official source of all things AHA 2013...
...[W]hy not think about an AHA president who lives and works in the trenches--a sort of "people's president" who represents the vast majority of historians in America, both inside and outside the academy? Why not have a president who is a professor at a liberal arts college who spends most of his or her time in the classroom, does his or her job well, and has few aspirations of working at a research university? Why not a public historian or a director of a historical society or history museum? Why not a high school teacher? It would be fun to imagine what kind of AHA presidential address these historians might deliver or what kind of initiatives they might promote.
Erin Bartram checks in after a busy Saturday at the AHA --JF
I attended a fascinating panel this morning entitled "Liberal and Evangelical Women, Social Reform, and the Problem of Categorization" The four panelists asked us to consider whether or not "liberal/progressive" and "evangelical" were actually oppositional categories in the 19th century. The conclusions drawn by all four suggest that, like many things in history, the reality is rather complex.
Here are my thoughts on today.
Wow. What a day. I’ve decided that the AHA is equivalent to three and a half days of solid graduate seminar. I can say this honestly: my brain is completely exhausted.
It has been a great weekend of blogging and tweeting at the AHA-New Orleans 2013. I will be around tomorrow, but I am not sure if I will be tweeting or covering any sessions. I may spend my morning trying to find some good deals in the book exhibit. I actually have my eye on Kevin Philips's 1775. Penguin was selling it for $10.00 hardback but I am hoping that they will go lower tomorrow. The same goes for William Hogeland's Founding Finance at the University of Texas Press.
This evening I crashed the American Society for Church History meeting to hear Laurie Maffly-Kipp of the University of North Carolina deliver her presidential address: "The Burden of Church History." Here are most of my tweets. I hope Dr. Maffly-Kipp will forgive me for just using the the surname "Kipp" in the tweets. With two hash tags (#aha2013 and #asch2013) I needed the additional characters.
The room was packed this morning for a session entitled "Clio's Craft: History and Storytelling." The session served as a great follow-up to William Cronon's presidential address last night which focused on the same theme. It seems that the historians here at the AHA can't get enough of panels and talks related to public history, writing for public audiences, digital history, and narrative. I wonder how many people left last night's session and went back to their hotel rooms and started writing.
Mary Sanders reflects on Day Two at the AHA--JF
So much has happened today that I’ve been puzzling how best to approach it. I want to spend the bulk of today’s post talking about William Cronon’s remarkable presidential address, emphasizing in particular what I think it has to say to graduate students. Before I do that, though, let me briefly summarize the three panels I attended.
I spent the early part of the morning practicing my own paper in front of the mirror in my hotel room, and then headed out to the Hotel Roosevelt for a panel exploring the legacy of Roe v Wade on its fortieth anniversary. A quartet of scholars teased apart the threads of the often black and white discussion on abortion rights in the United States, revealing, as only historians can, the importance of specificity and a close attention to chronology.
As I tweeted earlier this evening, William Cronon was on fire last night. I must admit that I have not heard many AHA presidential addresses (although I have a read a few), but Cronon's was clearly the best.
And gives us a nice shout-out. Thanks David Austin Walsh! [Editor's note: You're very welcome. Thanks for the great blogging!]
In my continued to attempt to offer the best AHA coverage on the web, I want to point you to Andrew Hartman's U.S. Intellectual History review of a panel on religion and the American century.
You can read the AHA Twitter feed here, but people are also blogging the conference. Here are some AHA-related posts:
The AHA is blogging this year
This morning I attended a very helpful session on publishing about American places. I learned a great deal from this session and am now more eager than ever to revisit and revise my book proposal on the Greenwich Tea Burning with the working title: "The Greenwich Tea Burning: History and Memory in an American Town." (I might add that one of the panelists today rejected my original proposal for this book).
I am settling in for my first session of the day--a panel on publishing about American places with several university press editors. I am hoping to get some good ideas about how to pitch my Greenwich Tea Burning project. More on this panel later--stay tuned.
This afternoon, I attended a panel on Canadian Catholic influences in America which provoked a lively discussion on borderlands, cultural transformation, and identity politics...
If you missed tonight's AHA plenary session you missed a real treat. William Cronon presided over a session entitled "The Public Practice of History in and for a Digital Age." (This was not his presidential address as I mistakenly wrote in previous posts. That address will take place tomorrow night and the title is "Storytelling." Looking forward to it). Cronon assembled a stellar panel of historians and intellectuals to discuss the ways historians can more effectively reach the public with their work. Joining Cronon on the panel were:
I have posted several of my tweets below (with some additional riffing in bold)
After I (Mary) picked Erin up at the airport yesterday, we started playing our favorite AHA game: “Guess the Historian.” We looked for what John has already referred to as the “uniform”—khaki pants, blazer, anything made out of tweed. (Our conclusion thus far has been that the female variant of the species of “historian” is harder to spot in the wild.) We checked into our non-conference hotel (where all the jubilant Louisville fans were staying) and immediately went in search of beignets.
This dispatch comes from Mary Sanders, a PhD student in the history department at Oklahoma State University. Mary works on 20th-century American religious history and the history of terrorism and political violence. Currently, she's writing her dissertation prospectus and studying for her exams, which she'll take in the fall. Enjoy! --JF
Well, I made it to New Orleans for the AHA conference with plenty of time to spare for tonight's opening session. If the Internet connection in the Marriott cooperates, I will try to tweet William Cronon's session. Stay tuned.
David McConeghy, a Ph.D candidate in religious studies at UC-Santa Barbara, has a nice post for all the American religious historians who will be in attendance at the AHA in New Orleans this weekend. Here is a taste:
For the third year I’ll be attending the American Historical Association’s annual conference. I like living outside of the American Academy of Religion box. You also can’t go wrong with a conference that is a bit more sensitive to the value of digital humanities and digital age pedagogy. I’m not saying the AAR is filled with luddites, but they have been slower to advance the study of religion into the digital realms.
The Way of Improvement Leads Home is already hard at work at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in New Orleans. Erin Bartram is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Connecticut where she is studying 19th century U.S. gender and religious history. She is working on a dissertation, under the direction of Richard D. Brown, which examines New England women converts to Catholicism....
I loved this piece when it was originally published at ProfHacker last August, so I am glad that Lincoln Mullen reminded me about it today via his Twitter feed. On the eve of the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, Mullen offers some counter-cultural advice about networking: "talk to the least important person in the room."...
- #AHA2013 Wrap-Up: Things You Won’t Read Anywhere Else
- Day 1 of the #TR2AHA: In Case You Hear Someone Shout “BINGO!!!!” In The Middle Of A Panel……
- Oh, When The Historians Go Marching In: AHA 2013, New Orleans
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I can think of a number of good reasons to have a conference in New Orleans. At the top of the list is the excellent, moderately priced food, served at relatively uncrowded restaurants a stone’s throw from the hotel. For the three full days I was at the American Historical Association Annual Meeting I did not have one bad meal (although I was with someone who did.) Furthermore, there are a couple of landmark places that seem to draw the tourist trade (such as the famous Acme Oyster House), leaving equally great places like Desire and Felix’s open to the rest of us. At Felix’s (where I had gone for a little alone time Saturday night because I felt conferenced out) they open the oysters and smack ‘em right down on the bar in front of you
It’s because that person is playing AHA Bingo!!! (Invented by the clever youngsters at Jacksonian America.)
The rumbling sound off in the distance is the purr of roller bags heading to airports across the land. And do you hear the tap-tap-tap-tap of fingers in 12/8 swing time, as historians make dinner, drinks, interviewing and publishing dates through the weekend?
That’s right, the 127th Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association starts tomorrow, in New Orleans. If you are interested in seeing Tenured Radical in action, you will want to come to The Public Practice of History in and for a Digital Age, Thursday night at 8:00. Chances are if you drop in on other panels devoted to things electronic, you will run into me there too.
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The past two times I’ve been to these conferences, the center of my orbit has always been the ASCH. The ASCH is extraordinarily generous to graduate students (so many free dinners!), and its panels are usually the most interesting. But because I was registered for the ACHA and thus not for the ASCH, and because I went to several of the plenary sessions at the AHA this year, this year I gravitated towards a theme I didn’t expect.
The theme was history as storytelling. I attended the first plenary session on “The Public Practice of History in and for a Digital Age,” then Bill Cronon’s AHA presidential address “Storytelling” (video here, live tweeted by me and several others), then a panel on “Clio’s Craft: History and Storytelling” chaired by Marni Sandweiss. Since one of the subthemes of the conference was “blog more,” I’ll try to think through what I learned in a few more posts later on.
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Academic conferences of this size are indeed an interesting event from an anthropological point of view. As one of my friends, who was there only to enjoy the city with his historian friends, observed to me over lunch “it’s a lot of awkward white people interviewing other awkward white people.” Flying out on Thursday or Friday, most of us came in planes heavy with visibly awkward and anxious individuals easily identifiable as academics by their articles on Latina culture in the 1960s or economic histories of post-war America. The man who sat next to me on my three-hour connecting flight was so absorbed in typing something about his project’s purported “reversal of the periphery-center” dynamic in Romanov-Qing relations and biting his fingernails down to the flesh that he didn’t see as I read his entire undergraduate and graduate biography over his shoulder.
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On my last day at the AHA/ASCH conferences, I attended a Conference on Faith and History session in the morning on Darren Dochuk's recent book, From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservativism. Daniel Williams of the University of West Georgia and Molly Worthen of UNC-Chapel Hill commented on Dochuk's book, offering high praise for this groundbreaking piece of scholarship.
On day two of the AHA/ASCH conferences, I attended two sessions. The first was entitled "Funding Your Research," from 10:30am to 12:00pm. The session was chaired by Laura Isabel Serna of the University of Southern California, and included two other panelists, Deborah Harkness of the University of Southern California, and Raul Ramos of the University of Houston.
After making my way to the hotel and settling in, I perused the book exhibit for an hour or so. I was surprised that Eerdmans did not reserve a booth this year. Eventually, I made my way to the NYU Press booth where I bought Ava Chamberlain's The Notorious Elizabeth Tuttle: Marriage, Murder, and Madness in the Family of Jonathan Edwards, recalling Doug Sweeney's review of it on the JEC blog. I also talked myself into buying David Swartz's The Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservativism after finding out from the UPenn Press representative that I could purchase the display copy at half the price provided that I wait until Saturday evening to pick it up. After visiting the book exhibit, I meandered down Bourbon Street where I enjoyed a bowl of delicious Gumbo.
...[S]ome of the changes proposed [by William Cronon and others at this year's AHA] would amount to nothing less than career suicide for us graduate students and junior faculty, without there first being consensus among established academic historians. To refer to what John Adams wrote about the Revolution, the change in perception and judgment must first come in the “hearts and minds” of established historians (on a broad scale), before it can be expected of junior historians with much more to lose.
At the same time, reforming the profession cannot even be effected by consensus among academic historians alone, or even primarily. It would require significant changes in the “hearts and minds” of administrators as well, including increasing the number of full-time positions and reforming tenure and hiring practices. But consensus backed up with action by established historians can go a long way toward effecting change in the administration.
Having no firsthand experience with the politics of higher education administration, this is probably naïve and highly presumptuous on my part, but I’d suggest a list be made by the AHA of a few things which academic historians themselves can do beginning immediately, whether that is to teach a graduate-level writing course, encourage more narrative dissertations, agree to weigh digital and paper history (of equal scholarly value) equally when sitting on committees, or things like that. And, because consensus is fundamental, this list could be signed by academics agreeing to begin doing these things. It could also be kept public on the AHA website, because there is power both in numbers and in the individual who knows they have numbers behind them....
Some of us here at The Junto are headed to the American Historical Association’s annual meeting in New Orleans today. We thought about doing one post, but then we thought it’d be fun to hear your AHA impressions, too. So we’re making this an open comment thread....
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