Monday, January 7, 2013

Dispatches from the AHA in New Orleans (9)

Mary Sanders--historian, blogger, and Ph.D student, reflects on her AHA experience.--JF

I spent Sunday morning at a panel on “New Directions in the Study of Global Evangelicalism,” a roundtable conversation about John Wolffe’s and Mark Hutchinson’s new book A Short History of Global Evangelicalism—another one of those books that is now on my list of must-reads.  Jehu J. Hanciles, Mark A. Noll, and Dana L. Robert all offered their perspectives, and there was a lively question and answer session after.

I spent much of my trip home yesterday decompressing and reflecting over the past few days.  This was my second AHA meeting, and, to be honest, I think a lot of people were wondering why I went.  I’m not on the job market, I wasn’t presenting a paper—I just went.  I’m glad I did.  It was good to talk with people, meet new people, and see old friends.  Graduate school is such a solitary activity—read, grade, write, repeat.  Conferences remind me of the essentially collaborative nature of what historians do.  I was exhilarated and refreshed by many of the conversations I was able to have this weekend, and I’m ready for the new semester (which started today!) because of them.

Perhaps I’m glad, also, for a slightly more selfish reason: I’m writing this post as I take a break from my dissertation prospectus—a prospectus that is much more clear in my mind after answering the question “So what is your dissertation about?” multiple times in New Orleans!  I may be back to the grindstone, but the way ahead is a little clearer than it was in December.