Author Archives: Kritika Agarwal

About Kritika Agarwal

Kritika Agarwal is associate editor, publications, at the AHA.

A History Dissertation Goes Digital

A few months ago, Celeste Sharpe, then a graduate student at George Mason University (GMU), defended what is purportedly the first born-digital dissertation in the discipline of history. Sharpe describes her project, They Need You! Disability, Visual Culture, and the Poster Child, 1945–1980, as an examination of “the history of the national poster child—an official representative for both a disease and an organization—in post–World War II America.” In her project, Sharpe argues that “poster child imagery is vital for understanding the cultural pervasiveness of the idea of disability as diagnosis and how that understanding marginalized political avenues and policies outside of disease eradication in 20th-century America.” AHA Today caught up with Sharpe recently about the process of creating a born-digital dissertation, advice for graduate students considering similar projects, and future prospects. 

Wrapping Up the 2017 AHA Today Summer Blog Contest

Since launching in 2015, the AHA Today Summer Blog Contest has focused on one thing: to give graduate students an opportunity to hone their communication skills by giving them access to a public platform. This year, our winners, Bridget Keown (Northeastern Univ.) and Bernard C. Moore (SOAS, Univ. of London), in four posts each, shared their research with AHA Today readers, and in the process enlightened us about subjects as diverse as women and trauma during World War I and the relationships between animals and humans under colonialism in Namibia.

Open-Access Publishing: What Authors Should Know

The March 2017 issue of Perspectives on History featured a piece by Seth Denbo, the AHA’s director of scholarly communication and digital initiatives, on the trend of open-access monographs in humanities fields. As Denbo wrote, “A small but growing number of presses have started exploring new economic models that require authors or their institutions to help cover the costs of publishing while simultaneously making their work freely accessible online to readers from around the globe.” One of these is the University of California Press, which through its new initiative, Luminos, has begun publishing open-access books in history. 

The “Practical Value of History”: Historians in the Federal Government

What is the “practical value of history”? This was the framing question of J. Samuel Walker’s Roger R. Trask Lecture delivered at the annual meeting of the Society for History in the Federal Government (SHFG) on April 13. Walker, who’s the former historian of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the author of several acclaimed books on the history of nuclear power, argued that historians must answer this question if they are to survive the never-ending austerity that the profession faces.

Want to Write for the AHA? Apply Today to Become a Summer Blogger!

A key skill for 21st-century historians, whether they work in the professoriate, public history, government, publishing, or beyond, is the ability to communicate through a variety of media to different audiences. Many historians have turned to blogging to reach a broad public, and the success of historical writing online demonstrates a certain hunger for historians’ point of view.

“Education Embargo”: Scholars at Risk Hosts Discussion on How Immigration Bans Restrict Knowledge

President Donald J. Trump’s new executive order on immigration was supposed to go into effect today. The new order was slightly narrower in scope than the original—it suspended travel from six countries instead of seven, and made exceptions for certain visa holders and US legal permanent residents. It also no longer singled out Syrian refugees for indefinite exclusion from the United States—all refugee settlement, including for those fleeing Syria, would have been temporarily suspended for four months pending further review.

Monumental Effort: Historians and the Creation of the National Monument to Reconstruction

One of President Obama’s last act while in office was to designate a national monument to Reconstruction in Beaufort, South Carolina. The AHA supported this important expansion of the National Park Service system with a letter to the US Secretary of the Interior on November 16, 2016. AHA Today spoke to historians Greg Downs and Kate Masur, whose advocacy was crucial to this effort, about the significance of the designation, the backstory of the monument’s creation, and next steps.

Doyle manages details large and small at the AHA's headquarters in the Colorado Convention Center. Credit: Marc Monaghan

Behind the Scenes at the Annual Meeting

Who do you call if you spot a pigeon flying around in the Job Center at the AHA’s annual meeting? Or when you go to that much-awaited session with your favorite historian on it, only to find that the sound system is mysteriously projecting into the room next door? Chances are that the person who steps in will be Debbie Doyle. Most AHA members know that the annual meeting is huge and complicated (on average, our meeting attracts 4,000 historians), but few are aware of how all the moving parts come together—or even how many moving parts there are.