Category Archives: American HIstorical Association

January 2, 2013, 11:27 am

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

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…

Read More

June 19, 2012, 8:59 pm

It’s Summer: Let’s Tee Up Some History Shorts

Obama may have made history by being the first president to golf in cargo shorts.

Word has it that all of us will be wearing shorts on Thursday, as the temperature rises into the high 90s. So let’s start the chilling with a…

Cold War Cultural Revival. You thought that the membership of the American Studies Association, the Modern Language Association and the Organization of American Historians had collectively driven a stake through the heart of American Exceptionalism. But someone from the Republican National Committee fished your old copies of Frederick Jackson Turner and Lionel Trilling out of the book donation box at the local library.

In April 2011, your favorite Radical twigged you to a Sarah Palin speech in which she explained that her appearance at the Iowa State Fair was intended, not…

Read More

April 8, 2012, 12:53 pm

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall, Who Is The Smartest Historian of All?

I am currently operating about a month behind on much of my professional mail because of the job-switch thing.  Therefore, it wasn’t until I was riding the train last week that I picked up on American Historical Association President William Cronon’s article, “Professional Boredom” (Perspectives on History, March 2012, 6-7.)  Without explicitly linking his thoughts to the job crisis, Cronon raises some issues about how we evaluate the quality of historical work, and what the consequences of defining the category of “good history” might be.

Cronon’s piece reminded me of a turn of phrase that irritates me more the older I get, which is characterizing a scholar or a piece of work by that scholar as “smart.” Most of us do it, but it either means nothing (original? well done? fun to read?) or it means way too much (“I have put X in the smart bin and that is that.”) What is worse is to…

Read More

January 23, 2012, 11:44 am

Dude, Where’s My Classroom? And Other Random Thoughts

This is my first day at my new job.  I won’t bore you with it because I can’t. I’m not there yet. I’m blogging from the train going into Metropolis, connected to the Interwebz via Bluetooth (that extra $5 a month from AT&T is worth it. Trust me.) Therefore, I don’t know anything about my first day yet, except that I am going to have a set of very important tasks.

The first will be to find my classroom, which is how I came up with this title. This gives me the opportunity to point out that I am semi-shamelessly ripping off Jack Halberstam’s funny piece on Dude, Where’s My Car? This then gives me the opportunity to say that you should read Halberstam’s  The Queer Art of Failure (Duke University Press, 2011). I downloaded it on Kindle last week.  Which, in turn, gives me the chance to say, “F^ck you people who think eBooks are the end of the world!  How else could I have purchased a…

Read More

January 9, 2011, 3:01 pm

American Historical Association Meeting 2011: End Of Conference Notes

I’m so glad we had this time together…..

This morning I woke up to a dusting of snow.  I was in a friend’s house in Cambridge, and I toodled out for my regular breakfast at Darwin’s.  At 7:15, it was just me and the old geezers (you know who I mean:  the men whose friendships have been organized for decades around meeting each other for breakfast and the New York Times on Sunday morning.)

I passed the time prior to leaving for South Station reading an article in The New Yorker about a boomlet in the debt collection industry in Buffalo.  Debt collection may, in fact, be the city’s remaining major industry.  It reminded me that while things in higher education are not good right now, they are a whole lot better than they are, say, in construction or heavy industry.

However, this does not make the cutting of funds to the arts and humanities tolerable or right, and we must start to fight back…

Read More

January 8, 2011, 4:02 pm

Embedded At The American Historical Association

History flash mob at Au Bon Pain, 8:45 AM

Dateline Boston. Perhaps the most frequently asked question I heard yesterday at Day Two of the American Historical Association Meeting was “What am I doing here?” I don’t know what the attendance figures are, but despite the lousy job market and reduced conference budgets, the Hynes Convention center and the bars at the three conference hotels are jammed.

What is peculiar here is that in order to get from place to place a historian has to navigate miles of passageways filled with upscale shops. Yes, history fans: we can honestly say that this is the first time in the Radical’s memory that an AHA has been held in a shopping mall. It isn’t quite as disorienting as the year the OAH was held in a casino but it is right up there.

One theory as to why they have held the meeting in a mall is the incessant sartorial comparisons with MLA. My suggestion for…

Read More

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 …

Read More

November 28, 2010, 11:16 pm

The Job Market Is A Lot Like The PBS NewsHour, And Other Advice For Skype Interviews

“Of course I can teach the second half of the U.S. History survey, Mr. DeMille ”

As I have suggested in earlier years, the day of the convention interview may be coming to an end.  It has been spitting blood and teeth for at least twenty years, as the academic job market has taken a pounding with only occasional, and unusual, seasons of activity that cause the professional association newsletters to write perky articles about recovery.

Even when I was a graduate student, a person could expect to pick up more than one interview at a conference.  Three interviews were considered a tipping point after which it was clear that something you were doing was ringing a bell and there would be a job with your name on it.  Even visiting jobs sometimes merited sending a small committee to the AHA:  the job that washed me in the holy water of the Ivy League and sent me catapulting into a real career…

Read More

February 7, 2010, 6:19 pm

The Sunday Radical Roundup: Libraries, Lefties, and Lonely Lovelorn Ladies

This Week In Library Fun: Amidst the excitement about the reopening of the St. Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library, other libraries in the system are slashing their hours on February 16 in response to budget cuts from City Hall. (Why does the mayor always take out the neighborhood libraries in a budget crisis when he could fire twenty or thirty cops and get the same $$? I ask you.) Changes affect nearly all branches except those on Staten Island and the privately endowed research libraries in Manhattan. Go here for new hours. At least for now, scholars and organized crime families will continue with the service they have, but there could also be no starker example of the distance that is growing between the actual public sphere and the privatized public sphere.

On The Left, On The Left: Tom Manoff, a former civil rights activist who has been the classical music critic for…

Read More

January 19, 2010, 7:28 pm

Guest Post From an Activist Historian: The AHA Blew It

A report on the American Historical Association Annual Meeting in San Diego guest posted by Jennifer Manion of Connecticut College.

To welcome back the start of another semester, let’s start with a multiple choice quiz:

For LGBTQ historians of an activist bent, this year’s AHA was:

a. alienating
b. disappointing
c. energizing
d. all of the above

For this activist historian the answer is “d.” So many things went so wrong in the AHA’s attempt to skirt around the local LGBTQ/labor boycott of the host hotel without appearing to support the politics of the hotel’s owner, Doug Manchester, who financed the initial petition drive to get Proposition 8 onto the ballot in California. For those of you living in a cave, the passage of Prop 8 overturned the legalization of gay marriage in California. The constitutionality of Prop 8 is now being contested by Perry v….

Read More