Oh, When The Historians Go Marching In: AHA 2013, New Orleans

January 2, 2013, 11:27 am

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.

Do come up and say hello.

Critics of the academic conference industry will still be distressed at the fiscal irresponsibility of scholars (particularly those devoted to things digital)meeting face to face. Why spend university funds that could otherwise be devoted to the football team/used to pay down the national debt on conversation when we could be in Google Hangouts or obsessively watching comment threads on Facebook? Well, come to my session and find out. Fiscal conservatives planning future professional meetings may also want to note that going to Dixie may be the best way to stay warm and keep the prices down. Despite the beignets and chicory coffee, the crawdaddies and the Jax, and the oyster po’boys, this conference will cost about half of the last conference reported at Tenured Radical.  @AHAhistorians has also tweeted a list of free WiFi spots for those, presumably, who do not wish to pay exorbitant hotel rates and do not tether to the iPhone.

What to pack, what to pack? (I mean, aside from your crawfish bib.) The last AHA that I attended, in 2011, was held in a shopping mall, making it possible to purchase any necessary (or unnecessary) garment at the post-Chrismukkah sales.

This year packing will have to be a more exact art, since my pre-Katrina memory is that the area around the Sheraton and the Marriott is mostly full of restaurants, art galleries, museums and souvenir items.

to further complicate the packing rubric, many of us have to pack for warm, for cool, and for cold. While New Orleans is fully capable of balmy winter temperatures, this weekend it will be in the high fifties to low sixties. Conference newbies, this means layers, layers, layers: even if New Orleans is warmish, the cavernous meeting rooms at a convention hotel are bound to be cold. If you are coming from a less temperate zone, you will also want to look at the long term forecast to see if you will need boots on the way home even if you don’t need them on the way out. Those of us who struggled back up the Eastern seaboard from Atlanta in 1996 will never leave home without hats, gloves, skis and American Express again. Also, don’t forget your:

  • water bottle
  • Vitamin C
  • chapstick
  • moisturizer
  • Pepto-Bismol
Even though New Orleans is humid, the convention environment will be dry, dry, dry. And not to freak you out or anything, but the closed environment is a good one for spreading unpleasant diseases. The infectious diseases doc that advises La Famille Radicale in our globetrotting mode assures me that Pepto kills well over 90% of the bacteria likely to cause harm to the human digestive tract. If what ails you is a virus, well, the Pink Pill will at least get you through your own panel and a job interview.

What — you have convention interviews? Good for you. For advice on kicking a$$ in the hotel room, go herehere and here: these posts are oldies but goodies, and if you think anything has changed in the last four or five years, please feel free to crowd source your questions in the comments section. People on the market will also want to check out the Job Center page: some schools listed are still collecting cv’s, so if you are looking to jump-start some extra interest, or don’t have interviews, the job center is the place to do it. People getting ready to go on the market in the next couple years will want to attend the interviewing workshop at 8:30 Friday morning; reflections on the first tenure-track job and sessions organized around alternatives to academia (a government job? the entrepreneurial historian?) There are many more which you can find by going to the electronic program and typing “job” into the search engine.

As an aside, you will also find a number of panels that are organized around the Book of Job, which is kind of interesting. For general networking advice that might help you get out of the belly of the whale, this post might be of some help.

For folks giving their first major conference paper, or those who have noticed audience members dropping off to sleep during past presentations, you might want to take a look at this old chestnut (hint: don’t be a clock hog!) Setting up your first meetings with an editor? You might find something of use in this post.

And last, but not least, the Committee of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History/Coordinating Council on Women Historians reception is on Friday, 5:30-7:30. The CLGBT program is here and lifetime membership is still a smokin’ hot deal at $200.

See you there: I’m seeing #aha2013 and #AHA2013 on Twitter, so even though it’s eight extra characters I’m using both until told otherwise.

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