Category Archives: conferences

April 19, 2015, 2:04 pm

The Current State of Academic Conferences


Some panelists were missing, but Benjamin Franklin showed up at this year’s OAH.

I am just back from St. Louis, where the Organization of American Historians (OAH) had its annual meeting this weekend.  A brief review:

  • The program was good. I did not go to any bad sessions, and I went to 2-3 every day, which is unusual for me. I didn’t hear anybody complain about any bad sessions. Congratulations, program committee, and many thanks to Marc Stein of San Francisco State for the queer history stream.  Marc has been a relentless promoter of our field, and has made it far more prominent at this and other conferences than it would have been without his efforts.
  • The Renaissance Hotel was still under construction, and they had booked two conferences back to back, which made checking in on Thursday a drag. There was…

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May 25, 2014, 1:04 am

Berks Day 3: Is The Book Dead? (Uh, No)

books1When I wasn’t selling memberships to the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians (you can buy one here, or outside the book exhibit tomorrow), or announcing the new Berks website launching in beta this summer, I was on a panel about the future of publishing. It was packed. Thanks to Paul Eprile (also in charge of the book exhibit) for organizing it; and Jean Quataert, Melissa Pitts and Lois Banner for a great conversation.

My opening remarks had the intentionally provocative title: “Should Historians Write Books? How the Digital World is Changing Your Career.” And without further ado:

Two years ago, I was on a plenary session at the American Historical Association, during which environmental historian Bill Cronon, the President of the AHA announced that he no longer owned any books. Downsizing from a house to an apartment, he had sold everything and replaced all his books with…

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November 11, 2013, 11:22 am

Planet for a Small Conference

chicago_vacation2Just back from a whirlwind trip to Chicago — well, actually, Evanston — where I attended and presented at Sexual Reputations, a conference hosted and sponsored by Northwestern University’s Department of Sociology, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, the Sexualities Project at Northwestern (SPAN), and the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program.

I had fun. I had so much fun. Thank you.

I had fun despite the fact there is so much to be said for not traveling halfway across the country for 48 hours: air travel is just. so. bad. I thought the broken down American Airlines seat was going to cripple me halfway through the return trip. For the first time I regretted that my resentment of à la carte air travel is so firm that I had refused (as I always do) the $90 upgrade to first class. Ninety dollars is not so much, I reflected, somewhere…

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August 11, 2013, 12:12 pm

Cyber History Fun in Jinan, China, 2015

travel-the-world-routes-to-asiaTwo more weeks of vacation — well, that is two more weeks of vacation for most of you. I’m on sabbatical this year, so summer lasts all year here at chez Radical.

But I would like to cheer everyone else up! Here is a fun thing to put on your agenda as you try to distract yourself from going back to work:

Send in a proposal to go to China with me in August 2015! That’s right, yours truly is teamed up with Francis Blouin of the University of Michigan to coordinate an American Historical Association-sponsored program of digital history panels at the 2015 meeting of Le Comité international des sciences historique (CISH) in Jinan. Our CFP (otherwise known as out appel à contribution) is here; submissions are due November 30 2013.

Don’t just fantasize — send something in! If you are planning on submitting a whole panel, remember the “international” part. We are serious about…

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November 16, 2012, 12:30 am

From The Mail Box: Reader Questions Whole Concept Of Academic Conferences

#2012ASA agreed to wait until after the election to deconstruct empire. Subsidize with tax dollars hasta pronto. Hillz

It’s very rare that I get a response to a post on academic conferences like this one. In the comment thread to yesterday’s post, archie_kelvin asks:

A long, long time ago, on the dear departed “Brainstorm” site, there was a long, long thread (in response to a post somewhat like TR’s) about attending an academic conference in a sunny clime, far away from the campuses of most attendees.

archie followed up with a bunch of questions, which I will attempt to answer (and yes, archie, my panel went very well today — thanks for asking.)

Aren’t these things just boondoggles, mini-vacations wholly or partly on somebody else’s tab?

All conferences, in all professions, are at least partly…

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October 21, 2011, 11:45 am

What Time Is It? It’s Time For The American Studies Association Meeting!

Cowabunga, Buffalo Bob!

Of course, ASA means something different as you age: it used to mean “Par-tay!!!” Now it mostly means jiggling a lot of appointments around the panel I am on so that I can do everything I need to do for my publishing life in fewer than two days.  The restrictions on partying are fine since I no longer drink much and the closer I get to the Big Sleep, the more I need to practice on a nightly basis.  My current conferencing style also means I am no longer using intellectual work to facilitate conference going, but just the opposite. Shrewder minds than mine understood this back in graduate school and they have the careers to prove it. In any case, there is only so much you can do over the interwebz and by conference call in the academic publishing biz :  some stuff still requires the good old face to face, as Bertie Wooster might have put it. (more…)

March 12, 2011, 1:08 pm

The Social Network: Or; Does Networking Really Matter To An Academic Career?

One of 17 ways to visualize Twitter.

Why do we tell young scholars to “network,” and what  do we mean by it?

As I was finishing up Samuel Delany’s Times Square Red, Times Square Blue (1999) last night, I came across this gem of a quote on p. 138:

I feel that my career benefits regularly from the results of my networking.  My ultimate take on networking is, however, this:  No single event in the course of my career that I can cite has been directly caused by networking.  Nevertheless, the results of networking have regularly smoothed, stabilized, and supported my career and made it more pleasant (there is that term again) than it would have been without it.

In general I would say (and I would say this to young writers particularly):  Rarely if ever can networking make a writing career when no career is to be made.

Delany, as many of you know, is a queer science fiction writer who has also…

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January 5, 2011, 10:34 pm

It’s Safe To Go Back To the Annual Meeting; A Radical Guide To Days 1 and 2 of The 2011 AHA

I just want to say:  gays were not involved in logo design or color choice.

Last year there was quite a hullabaloo about the American Historical Annual Meeting out in San Diego. Doug Manchester, who owns the hotel the AHA chose, had given gobs of money to Prop 8, the anti-gay marriage initiative.  He also got a lot of that money by running a union-free work place.  It was what you would call a lose-lose choice for the AHA, and resulted in a lot of people flying out there to picket, and a lot of other people having to give their papers by sneaking in and out hidden in laundry trucks.  (No, not Really!  That was a joke!)  This year there are no worries: you can come into the hotel without worrying that you will have to cross a queer picket line, or worse, that the hotel bar is off limits to Good People.  We historians are meeting in the People’s Republic of Boston, a city that is unionized …

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June 4, 2010, 4:51 pm

Oh, The Joy Of Political History! Day 2 at Policy History Conference

Why do we go to conferences? Most of us end up asking this question, perhaps as we are finishing up a paper or a comment later than we wanted to, or packing hastily the night before a flight that is too early. I was certainly asking myself why I ever leave home for any reason as I contemplated the fact that, for the second morning in a row, I had no hot water at the Holiday Inn. Fortunately it is summer, and becoming chilled first thing has no lasting effects; my spirits were raised even further by unexpectedly locating a branch of Au Bon Pain a block and a half away where I could have a nicer breakfast than I had had yesterday. (“Do you know that the graduate students at Harvard refer to your chain as A Big Pain?” I overheard a senior scholar who was trying to arrange a table for twenty ask the manager conversationally. “No, I didn’t!” the cheerful Midwesterner replied, as if my…

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June 3, 2010, 2:14 pm

Dateline Columbus: Policy History Fun, Day 1

The Policy History Conference is in the Columbus Hyatt, which is also currently housing a bunch of men’s college rugby teams engaged in tournament play. For those of you who are at the conference but were unable to get a room at the Hyatt, this proliferation of apple-cheeked lads may explain the shortage of accommodations at a time of year when Columbus seems to be otherwise deserted. Because the rugby tournament headquarters are near the PHC book exhibit, this means that there are occasional moments when the public areas are full of (mostly male) academics in suits giving way to a flying wedge of sweaty, strapping and polite young men who have tiny shorts and legs of steel.

My first panel this afternoon was, as I promised, “Feminism: The Changing Status Of Women In The Age Of Eisenhower,” the Book Forum on Alan Petigny’s The Permissive Society: America, 1941-1965 (Cambridge, 2008).

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