The American Historical Association has announced a national search for a Programs Manager.
The digitization of historians’ source materials takes center stage in Perspectives on History this month, with “Material Culture in the Digital Frame: A Forum” and “The Digitization and Democratization of Oral History” in our State of the Field section.
To accompany our ongoing AHA Member Spotlight we have introduced an AHA Council Spotlight series featuring short interviews with our elected council officers. Like our membership, the AHA Council is composed of historians with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and stories.
Today’s guest blogger is Sarah Shurts, an AHA Tuning participant and assistant professor of history at Bergen Community College.
Comedian Joel McHale recently gave an interview where he mentioned that he had been a history major but had turned to acting because “it’s not like you can open a history shop!” While those of us whose passion for history became our profession might cringe at this, we also must acknowledge that many of our history majors do go on to professions that have nothing, on the surface, to do with history.
Humanists readily understand the “value” of what we teach, study, and write. We too often forget that this is less obvious to many of our neighbors, and have not developed a deep and wide advocacy movement to promote humanistic thinking and work. The AHA, like other scholarly societies, participates in Washington-based coalitions that offer a strong voice on Capitol Hill and relevant agencies, such as the National Archives, the Smithsonian, and even the State Department. But this is not enough at a time when politicians and business leaders across the country have sharply attacked humanistic and social science disciplines as not only frivolous (an old charge as pertaining to the humanities) but also a waste of taxpayers’ money and students’ time.
In the face of wintry weather in some states and a chilly political climate for the humanities in others, dozens of historians shared the warmth of professional community near the AHA offices in Capitol Hill earlier this month. Faculty members from across the country who are active in the AHA’s three-year Tuning Project convened from February 15–17 to share their expertise on issues that have been emerging on individual campuses, and to hone a broad, positive message about historical study for public audiences.
Editorial note: Responding to a report by the National Association of Scholars (NAS) on reading assignments at two Texas universities, Elaine Carey, AHA vice president, Teaching Division, and James Grossman, AHA executive director, wrote an article for the Chronicle of Higher Education that attracted a response from, among others, Samuel Goldman writing for the American Conservative. Carey and Grossman respond to his piece below.
In December, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded the American Historical Association and the Modern Language Association grants for broadening the career horizons of humanities PhDs. At its 2013 annual meeting in New Orleans, the AHA hosted the project’s initial conversations. Dozens of directors of graduate studies, university administrators, and contingent faculty members met with AHA past president Anthony Grafton, senior project advisor Robert Weisbuch, and project director Julia Brookins. They discussed the implications of what we already know—and do not know—about the careers of history doctorates who are not postsecondary teachers.