Archive for the 'conferences' Category

April 6th 2010
Historiann hits the Old Northwest Territory, again!

Posted under American history & conferences & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & O Canada & race & students & women's history

Sorry for the radio silence these last few days–I’ve been on the road, in the air, and on the ground at Michigan State University to give a talk about my current research project and to discuss my book with a class here.  (More news–including a podcast!–coming soon.)  I’m always happy to visit what we in Colorado call the East:  it’s a beautiful spring here, with lovely green grass and flowers bursting open everywhere I look.  The accomodations are far from spartan–in fact, they and the hospitality here have been downright stately.  And who wouldn’t love to visit a university campus with its own dairy and retail store? 

Fragrant white magnolias

Scented white magnolias!

The former Michigan Agricultural College has a lot in common with Baa Ram U., which was originally called Colorado Agricultural College (“for Eighth Grade graduates!”)  Our Deans and Provosts like to call MSU a “peer institution,” but from my perspective in the History department, that’s ridiculous:  MSU’s history department has 54 faculty members, 100 graduate students, and a Ph.D. program.  They also get pre-tenure leave.  We got nothin’ compared to that. Continue Reading »

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March 12th 2010
Spring breakin’

Posted under Berkshire Conference & conferences & women's history

Catch you next week!  Don’t forget:  proposals for panels, workshops, and single papers for the 2011 Berkshire Conference on the History of Women are due March 19!  So spend whatever time you’d otherwise be spending at Historiann.com this week putting together a proposal for the Berks instead.

We’ll have to do a massive femblogger meetup there.  The conference will be in Amherst at the University of Massachusetss, June 9-12–the Pioneer Valley is lovely in the late spring, friends!  And remember:  this comet only comes around every 3 years, so if you miss this one, you’ll regret it for sure.

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March 7th 2010
Intellectual migrations: how and when to switch fields?

Posted under conferences & European history & jobs & publication & women's history

From the mailbag at Historiann HQ, a question about working outside the historical field in which one originally trained:

Dear Historiann,

I have a question about working outside one’s dissertation field, and wonder to what extent the topic of one’s dissertation dictates the career.  Is it permanent?  I am now working on a topic largely unrelated to my doctoral work, and I have already discovered this to be less-than-an-asset on the job market.  For jobs in my dissertation field, any search committee would look askance at current project; for jobs in “current project field,” they will look askance at the dissertation.  (Think: dissertation on revolutionary France, current project on Argentina). 

To what extent are we defined by a choice of dissertation topic, even throughout our careers? I have heard people commenting about a very senior (famous) historian who wrote a recent book, saying “how can he work on Y? He’s a specialist on X!” (X being his doctoral subject). He completed his Ph.D. 30 years ago, and has written a number of books. My view is, surely he’s had time to become a specialist in some other field/s of history since then. But this view is obviously not shared by all in the discipline. Should a junior scholar wait til after tenure to bust out their “true historical passion?”

Signed,

Roving Renata

Renata, I agree with you that people in our profession can be extremely fussy and fuddy-duddy about switching fields and gaining new competencies.  (And as someone who wrote a book that wasn’t a revision of her dissertation at all but was an entirely new project–well, let’s just say that I can relate to your anxieties.)  People are unusually identified with their first books, especially if their first books were well received.  I once had a colleague who was absolutely haunted by this.  He once said to me, “it’s just agonizing to think that people will read my first book and think that that’s who I am as a scholar!”  Continue Reading »

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January 30th 2010
From the mailbag: How to assemble a conference panel with complete strangers?

Posted under conferences & jobs & students

A stranger's just a friend you haven't met!

Because of Homostorian Americanist’s recent correspondence with a silly high-schooler who was fishing for someone to do her homework, reader Nervous Ned writes in to ask, ” What is the appropriate way to contact another professional historian and ask hir to participate in a panel as a chair or commenter?”  This is a great question–it’s something that lots of us are doing these days, because of all of the calls for papers that emphasize transnational this and comparative that.  The odds are that crafting a panel these days will require reaching far beyond one’s sub-field.  Ned explains his problem:

I have been working with a couple of other people to assemble a comparative, modern history panel for the next American Historical Association annual meeting. Myself and another panelist are junior faculty at distinctly un-prestigious state schools. The third panelist is a grad student.  We did not personally know any prominent scholars with a reputation for working on [the nominal topic of the panel], so we decided to e-mail scholars whose work we admired and thought would be able to critique our papers. The Grad Student offered to email a couple people because she had met them tangentially at a conference. These did not pan out, so I emailed a scholar I admired who had written about [this field] in [my area of geographical expertise].  But after reading your post on student XXXX and hir insistent e-mail pestering I realized that we may have acted inappropriately, by emailing senior faculty and associate professors out of the blue.  

Is there a good way to go about talking to scholars you are not acquainted with and asking them to help you out with your panel or work, especially for someone like a grad student or junior faculty member who is not really well connected? More importantly, I have not heard from the person I emailed.  I probably should have worked the grapevine and gotten some sort of introduction, but its a little late now. Should I apologize? 

Signed, 

Nervous Ned 

Dear Ned, 

Apologize???  For doing your job and also helping to mentor a graduate student?  Continue Reading »

10 Comments »

January 10th 2010
AHA report part deux, check (it) out now! Hugs and learning for everyone! (Except straight historians.)

Posted under conferences & GLBTQ & happy endings & jobs

UPDATED BELOW

Classy Claude has returned from the American Historical Association’s annual conference in San Diego to the wintry climate were he currently resides.  Classes begin tomorrow for Claude–alas, what lessons did the professor learn at the 2010 AHA?  You might be surprised!   

I have now returned from San Diego – and leaving was somewhat painful, I have to say.  The weather was just about perfect, and the sad truth was that anyone leaving San Diego today was clearly going somewhere where it would not be.  

I don’t have oodles to report because, in true AHA fashion, I didn’t actually go to all that many sessions – only one yesterday, and it was my own, and none today.  (I did not see the John D’Emilio talk discussed in the comments yesterday, but I, too, heard that it was fantastic.)  I did, however, attend the anti-Manchester rally yesterday right outside the Hyatt.  The protest was scheduled yesterday for two reasons: it was the two-year anniversary of the day that Doug Manchester made the donation that enabled people to begin the signature drive, which put Proposition 8 on the ballot in the first place.  His involvement was even more insidious and instrumental than I had thought!  Secondly, the AHA is among the few major organizations not to honor the boycott.  So, I went to the protest in solidarity with the anti-Manchester, anti-Hyatt, anti-Prop 8 gang.

The protest, which was supported by many different organizations, was a joint venture of both queer and labor organizers and it was – some grandstanding aside – pretty wonderful to see the kind of cross-class, multiracial support that was in evidence.  Fired Latina Boston Hyatt housekeepers roused the crowd talking about Hyatt hotels’ nasty labor practices and a racially diverse crowd of queer activists talked about their support for labor, and then labor talked about the fact that there was no real equality for them or for anyone at all until all people were treated with justice.  There’s nothing like a common enemy to unite disparate groups.  Be still my leftist heart!  Continue Reading »

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January 10th 2010
AHA 2010 report: no jobs, but excellent views

Posted under conferences & jobs

Reader and commenter Frustrated Full Professor sent along this photos of the view from her hotel room.  First thing in the morning, at right:

Similar view at dusk, at left.

And finally:  lest we forget, San Diego is a big military town.  Anchors aweigh!

I’ll post Classy Claude’s second report as soon as it comes across the teletype machine.  (Claude’s kind of a retro guy.)  Don’t miss C. Vann Winchell’s reporting on this year’s “still sleepy AHA,” as ze calls it.

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January 9th 2010
Historiann EXCLUSIVE: Classy Claude at the AHA in San Diego

Posted under American history & Berkshire Conference & conferences & GLBTQ & jobs & women's history

Once again, Historiann’s better-traveled and more in-the-loop friend Classy Claude is at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting, and has volunteered to report back what he’s seen and heard.  Here, he updates us on the Doug Manchester/Hyatt boycott, a prominent American women’s history panel, and who puts on the best free reception.  Try not to hate him because he’s in San Diego–hate him because he’s beautiful, and employed!  

Greetings from sunny San Diego!  My view of San Diego Bay from the 17th floor of the Hilton gives some idea of just how lovely and temperate it is here right now (see the photo on the right, by Claude himself.)  And the Hilton conveniently provides running maps to cover various distances along the promenade.  Historiann, you would love it!  

 I have no actual idea of the numbers at this year’s AHA, but I can’t help but think that it’s down from recent years.  Not one of the panels I have attended so far, for instance, has had its full component of scheduled speakers. Reasons for these absences are manifold. First, the abysmal job market: if there are fewer interviewers and interviewees (the main purpose here for most), then fewer attendees.  Second, getting to San Diego is expensive for most North Americans.  Combine that with the fact that many colleges and universities have slashed travel budgets and it becomes prohibitively expensive for many.  Third, there are the Midwestern storms that certainly have delayed some people’s arrival and may well have stranded them altogether.  And fourth, the gay and labor boycott of the Manchester Grand Hyatt (led by UNITE HERE and Equality California, but with many other organizational supporters) seems to have led some gay would-be attendees to cancel as well.  

As many of Historiann’s readers know, before the 2009 meeting it came to the attention of some AHA members that the owner of the Hyatt, Doug Manchester, had given about 100K to the successful Proposition 8 campaign (to ban same-sex marriage in California).  Continue Reading »

9 Comments »

January 9th 2010
AHA report: Put on a giant smiley-face mask, if you have to

Posted under conferences & fluff & happy endings & jobs

While I’m waiting for the exclusive report from Classy Claude to be filed from this year’s meeting of the American Historical Association, I thought I’d draw your attention to a comment from The History Enthusiast, who said that everyone in the pit on Thursday was a real Debbie Downer:

As a first-timer at the AHA Job Center I can report that it was much quieter than I expected (everyone was so tense!) and there were very few people milling around. That shouldn’t really be a surprise.

What struck me, though, is that when I smiled at people no one would smile back. I understand that the market is stressful (hello, I’m on it too) but some of the people I saw looked like they were going to cry. And there haven’t even been interviews yet! We were just dropping off CVs at the collection booth. I made small talk with one of the volunteers and he looked at me as if I had three heads. My guess is that none of the other applicants had spoken to him without having a look of sheer panic cross their face. Yes, I’m nervous too. Yes, this is a big frickin’ deal. But good God, it is not healthy to be so freaked out that you won’t even look other people in the eye. I find that very disturbing.

Those are all things I’d expect on Saturday when the interviews are in full swing, but today? Seriously. I feel like I was the only sane person in the room.

That sounds about right for the pit most years, right friends?  My bet is that The History Enthusiast will compare favorably to the Debbie Downers, especially since the departments hiring this year must be cheered by all of the top-notch candidates they’ll be able to lure.  Continue Reading »

8 Comments »

January 7th 2010
Checking in on the AHA-hahahahaha? (Lolsob.)

Posted under conferences & Gender & jobs & unhappy endings

From a distance, of course–Potterville is about 1,137 miles away, 4,659 feet higher, and 70 degrees colder than San Diego this morning.  Damn! but I wish I were waking up in the Hotel del Coronado today.  It’s -11 here now–but it will be sunny, at least!  The sun is about the only thing San Diego will have in common today with the High Plains Sub-Zero Freezer we’re locked in until the weekend.  Classy Claude will be filing a first-person report later this weekend, if he can peel himself off the beach, shake the sand out of his drawers, and find a wifi hotspot. 

First, the good news:  the 2010 annual meeting of the American Historical Association is in San Diego!  That’s it for the good news I’ve heard.  If you’re there and not interviewing for jobs, interviewing for jobs you’re unlikely to get, or interviewing dozens of candidates for a job at your institution, at least you can do it without wearing boots and lugging a giant coat around a big hotel because you’re stuck yet again in Chicago or Boston.  (Who’s with me on pushing the AHA to south and west, friends?  We’ll throw Denver in there too, for you winter sports enthusiasts.  How about instead of Chicago, Boston, Chicago, New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, and Chicago, we have Dallas, Phoenix, San Diego/L.A., Denver, and San Francisco?)

Inside Higher Ed reports that attendance is down at the AHA this year, because of the economy and the related dearth of open positions in history.  (There are also fewer drop-ins than there would be in major Eastern cities because of the West Coast location, too, and the additional travel expense for people in the Eastern and Central time zones especially.)  And, the AHA itself reported that it’s “A Grim Year on the Academic Job Market for Historians,” because “[d]uring 2008–09 job advertisements fell by 23.8 percent—from a record high of 1,053 openings in 2007–08 to 806 openings in the past year. This was the smallest number of positions advertised with the AHA in a decade.  To make matters worse, a subsequent survey of advertisers indicates that about 15 percent of the openings were cancelled after the positions were advertised.”  Marc Bousquet at How the University Works takes issue with the AHA report’s conclusion that the problem is an oversupply of history Ph.D.s, and says that it’s not an oversupply of qualified job candidates, but that it’s an undersupply of tenure-track jobs because of university administrators’ decisions over the past 25 years to hire more contingent faculty than tenured or tenure-track faculty proportionally. Continue Reading »

43 Comments »

January 1st 2010
New Year’s round-up: lit & critters edition, yee-haw!

Posted under conferences & fluff & unhappy endings & weirdness

elvgrenlibraryHappy New Year, friends, cowgirls, and countrymen.  In a few hours, Historiann et famille are off on another jaunt to a nearby ski town–as you may remember, I don’t ski, so it’s a reading weekend for me.  I’m going to nix the digital communication and go all codex for the remainder of the weekend.  I’m deep into some good books (thanks, Homostorian Americanist and Monocle Man!) and want to enjoy some fiction before going back to my usual diet of extremely serious and self-important non-fiction.  So, I’ll direct you to some interesting bons mots and bibelots I found on the world-wide non peer-reviewed internets:

  • 2009 ended with some sad news in Roxie’s World:  Roxie, the world’s longest-lived terminal veternary patient, died on Wednesday, December 30.  Fortunately, Mark Twain showed up for the wake to give her a proper sendoff–go read, if your computer keyboard is tearproof.  We are glad her final days were so prolonged and that her final exit was mercifully quick.  Much love as always to Moose and Goose, Roxie’s human companions and typists.  We’ll have a cup of kindness tonight in honor of Roxie’s happy life and good death thanks to their loving care (and that of their good friend, Geoffrey.)
  • Tom at Romantoes was at the Modern Language Association’s annual meeting in Philadelphia this week, and he tells a story about his encounter with the real Philadelphia, Continue Reading »

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