I spent last year's AHA in New Orleans attending sessions, catching up with friends, blogging, and tweeting. Some of you may recall that I was the conference's top tweeter. This year felt more like work, but there were still some highlights. Here are a few:
- I sat on a high-powered post-doc search committee. It was a lot of fun listening to some of the best and brightest in the field talk about their projects.
- Through conversations with editors I began to get a picture of what I may be writing over the course of the next couple of years. (More on that in a future post).
- I spent some time with a few younger historians and learned about their exciting work.
- I had a great chat with The Way of Improvement Leads Home correspondent Christopher Graham about public history, teaching history, and how historians can do a better job of understanding their audiences.
- I had coffee with a former student who has become the most enthusiastic doctoral student I have ever encountered.
- I had dinner with a former student who is completing his Ph.D in Latin American history and has a job lined up at a research university.
- I confused Robert Walpole and Horace Walpole in the paper that I presented. Two people in the room caught the mistake, one of which was the session commentator. (Although he was gracious enough to tell me privately).
- I learned that historians are usually in bed, or at least in their hotel rooms, relatively early. When I came down to the Marriott lobby at 2:40am on Saturday morning (I needed to print something) I did not see a soul.
- An English professor in attendance at the conference told me that historians at the AHA do not "self-fashion" as much as literacy critics at the MLA.
- I realized that the AHA is not the best place to learn how to use my first smartphone. I do not recommend trying to learn the "maps" feature while trying to decipher the best way to walk to a session in which you are presenting. The same goes for learning how to use the snooze feature on the alarm.
- I learned that I am not the only historian who comes to the AHA with a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter in my suitcase.
Another great AHA. As usual, I left very energized.