“Are the humanities in crisis?” For the past decade, this question, and answers to it, has been posed in numerous articles and opinion pieces nationwide. Underlying it is an unspoken lament for a former, halcyon state of humanities education and research. “The State and Future of the Humanities in the United States”—a plenary session at the 2018 AHA annual meeting—however, looked decidedly toward the future: a future that certainly draws upon lessons from the past, but one that must be prepared to tackle and embrace different approaches to education, professions, and the place of the humanities in public life.
“The weather’s been, uh . . . wonderful!” What would you write on a postcard sent from AHA18? What memories have you made over these four frigid days in the nation’s capital? As the 132nd AHA annual meeting comes to a close, AHA Today presents a few attendees’ favorite moments. Do you have a personal highlight from the meeting? Let us know below in the comments section, or on Twitter!
By Kathryn Tomasek
The poster sessions at the AHA annual meeting have evolved from a small beginning in 2006 to a far more prominent set of four Saturday sessions that will be featured in the Atrium of the Marriott Wardman Park. The visibility of these sessions and their number indicates that historians have embraced the conference poster as a vital form of scholarly communication. I welcome this adaptation as a demonstration of the vitality of our discipline. When we integrate this form into our models of research and teaching, we highlight the role of conversation at the center of our disciplinary practice.
By Antoinette Burton
If you have any doubts about the vibrancy of historical curiosity among our undergraduate majors nationwide, be sure to check out the Undergraduate Poster Session, which runs from 3:30–5:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 6, in the Atrium of the Marriott Wardman Park (Exhibition Level). Jewish pirates, Catherine de Medici, 1967 in Detroit, Egypt in 2017, indigenous communities in early colonial Connecticut—these are just a few samples of the historical subjects that have caught students’ attention and propelled them into the world of historical research, thinking, and writing.
Intertwined. Overlapping. Interconnected. The complicated entanglement of slave trading, geographies, and ethnicities was the focus of the Thursday night plenary, “New Perspectives on Histories of the Slave Trade,” at the 2018 AHA annual meeting. In papers ranging in focus from trade routes in the western Indian Ocean to forced treks across Brazil’s interior to mangrove slave trading ports, the panelists revealed how histories of slave trading offer opportunities to rethink the construction of race and ethnicity from a global perspective, the broader theme of this year’s meeting.
By the National Endowment for the Humanities Staff
When the American Historical Association gathers for its annual meeting in Washington, DC, the staff of the National Endowment for the Humanities will enjoy home field advantage, like our city’s historically minded Washington Nationals baseball team. Having the meeting in DC allows us to send more than the usual one or two staff members to represent the agency. Several of us will be attending this year to listen to and talk with conference attendees.
By Zachary Schrag
If your Metro train to the AHA conference hotels seems to be taking longer than expected, or if the platform feels more crowded than you remember from AHA 2014, you aren’t imagining things. The past few years have been tough ones for the region’s rapid transit system, and it’s showing.
It’s almost meeting time! Starting tomorrow, historians from around the world will gather in Washington, DC, to share research, trade teaching techniques, and discuss wide-ranging developments in the discipline. As in previous years, @AHAhistorians will be very active on Twitter throughout the meeting. We will be sharing sessions of interest and announcements about events, as well as notices about exciting conversations that are happening. But we can’t do it alone!