Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Wolfe's Tone on Day 4 at the AHA

Below you will find the final report on the AHA Conference in San Diego from our correspondent, "The Wolfe's Tone." You can read his reports from the rest of the AHA here. If you are enjoyed his posts, feel free to let him know in the comments section. --JF

It is 5pm on the left coast and in a crowded airport those still awaiting the flight home have watched a crazy end to a wild game between Green Bay and Arizona. Here are some thoughts from the AHA-San Diego.

Dress Code

On Sunday there was a noticeable change in attire. At the start of the conference, the established professors are comfortably dressed, but you can spot the junior historians in the same way you can spot the freshman on the first day of class: they are dressed in their best. But by now most of us know that we will be flying around the country without that plush new job, and have taken on a more casual look. I personally donned the professor's go-to uniform: tweed coat, shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes.

History of the Book

Perhaps the best part of the AHA's final day is the book giveaway. The conference hosts several academic presses selling their wares. Some sell, some just display. But all need to unload the display books they brought because it is cheaper to get rid of them than to ship them back. Therefore- if you get to the book area early on the final day, you will find many books discounted 50%, 70%, or more. Several presses will give their books away. I am teaching some new classes next year and looking for primary source anthologies. I walked away with several free books from reps who are hoping I will assign their texts. I also found a few books I've been
hoping to read for $3 in paperback and $5 in hardback.

Be careful, though. Books are the crack of the historical profession. It is easy to forget you have to fly these things back home. Before I left the book area I gave serious consideration to
leaving behind several pairs of pants to make room for that new Trotsky biography.

The book area is also a good place to pitch your book project (if you have one- probably best not to make something up on the fly). I met a few editors and used some friends to get introductions with others. Take advantage of this when you can.

Course Participation Grade

The Sunday morning panels are sparsely attended. I enjoyed one more before checking out, but it was obvious that many people flew the coup in the early morning. Thankfully, the AHA has no course participation grade.

Panel of the Day

I expected the last day's panels to be the "also rans," but I must say that I greatly enjoyed a group of papers on honor and evangelicalism in the American South. A really insightful
contribution came from an Emory doctoral student, Robert Elder. His presentation focused on the way male evangelicals participated in dual societies: evangelicalism and southern honor culture. His basic argument was that historians have over simplified the discussion into an either/or between the two. However the record suggests that men led lives that drifted between these two ideals. This was a really good paper with lots of potential. Another panelist, Wake Forest's John Hayes, offered a look at Johnny Cash and masculinity in the twentieth century South. Beth Barton Schweiger comments were very insightful. This was an excellent panel on a day when many people, unfortunately, had mailed it in.

It has been fun banging out my thoughts in the late night hours and I hope readers have found some of it helpful. Here is to meeting each other in Boston next year. I'm trying to decide what mode of transportation to use for that trip. Consider leaving your feedback on the best ways to travel to Boston.

Just post 1 if by land, or 2 if by sea.

The Wolfe's Tone.

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