What’s More Fun Than Feminist History? More Berkshire Conference Highlights

June 12, 2011, 9:03 pm

Iacovetta presents at an event that makes me want to go to Canada

The 15th Berkshire Conference is finishing up with a business meeting as I write here at my desk in Shoreline, a meeting where outgoing president Kathleen Brown of the University of Pennsylvania will hand the organization over to Franca Iacovetta of the University of Toronto.  Iacovetta will take us to Canada for the very first time, just as Vicki Ruiz took us West for the first time in 2005, and Ruth Mazo Karras took us to the Midwest for the first time in 2008.  Thanks to a great program committee, the University of Massachusetts — Amherst, and a hard-working local arrangements (who, it is rumored, started shuttling people to the airport at 4:00 a.m.) the meeting appeared to come off without a hitch.

If you heard a rumor that this year’s festivities included a burlesque show, I won’t say you are wrong — they also included a spirited exchange between Radicalesbian Artemis March and a young feminist (whose name I never learned) about pornography, which cheered up those of us who are writing books about the sex wars of the 1980s.  Historiann never made it because of a family emergency, which has caused her to confess to having a family (but let’s not belabor it, shall we?), but the blogger meetup went off without a hitch even without our favorite cowgirl.  If you want to see the Tweeted conference, go here.  If you want to see an analysis of the program’s bias towards US and modern history, go to BlogenspielFeMOMhist has a running commentary here, here, here and here.  Janice Liedl reports in here, and Knitting Clio’s day 1 report will probably be followed up soon.

Last night, at the traditional Saturday party, you couldn’t help but wonder which of the under-thirty set out there shaking it in a line dance would be the future Berks president who takes us to — Mexico?  Hawai’i? Oregon?  Who knows — the sky is the limit, and we can boogie anywhere you take us.

If this was your first Berkshire Conference, the point is:  keep coming.  And consider posting to the page on the website, redesigned under Brown’s direction in this conference cycle, called “Think/Learn/Teach/Do,” that asks you to reflect on your conference experiences.

One of my favorite additions to the conference this year was the poster sessions, a way of presenting research that is common in other fields but rarely employed at a history conference.  I think it’s a keeper:  scholars with research to present can do so in an interactive way with a mobile audience who stops by to talk to them about it.  It doesn’t force you to listen to a whole panel, it allows you to connect to a scholar whose work you are interested in and, best of all, doesn’t force you to choose between the talk you really ought to be at (because it’s a friend, your research field, a famous person) and the talk that piqued your interest but doesn’t have any utility for your work.

So without further ado, here is a short film I made of a poster session with a Flip.  Kelly O’Donnell is a second-year graduate student in the History of Science and Medicine program at Yale, and her poster session was on the Menstrual Cup:  take it away, Kelly.

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