D.C., the Annual Meeting, and Graduate Students

Chris Hale | Dec 1, 2007

With its abundance of universities, museums, libraries, and archives, Washington, D.C., is also a capital of graduate study. The American Historical Association's 122nd Annual Meeting, therefore, is the ideal venue for history graduate students to meet their peers, to learn more about their area of study, and to experience first-hand how their profession works.

Of all of the cities that have hosted the AHA's annual meetings, D.C.—with its numerous academic resources and its mid-Atlantic locale—probably attracts the most graduate students, and usually has high attendance in general. Graduate students should therefore attend the upcoming annual meeting, as it has so much to offer.

First and foremost, the city itself is rich with life and culture, and is much more than the bland, bureaucratic backdrop depicted in most Hollywood films and TV shows. Since much of the city's culture and history has already been described in previous articles, I won't go into further detail here, except to say that behind its placid monumental masonry, Washington—with Georgetown, Adams Morgan, Capitol Hill, and the burgeoning H Street corridor—has much to divert the stressed out, hermit-like gradate student. My colleagues and I like to go out and experience the cultural offerings (i.e. nightlife) of each annual meeting city, and I encourage all graduate students attending the meeting in D.C. to do the same.

But what has the annual meeting itself to offer? A great way to start one's annual meeting planning is check out the AHA's blog, AHA Today, an excellent tool to connect with peers who might be attending and organize academic and social functions related to the annual meeting.

The annual meeting itself has plenty of sessions, forums, and receptions where graduate students can connect with their peers, learn, and experience the historical profession close-up. To begin with, the AHA's Committee for Graduate Students (CGS) is sponsoring an orientation session, "To Make the Most of the Meeting: Orientation to the Annual Meeting," on Thursday, January 3, 2008, from 4:00–5:00 p.m. in the Nathan Hale Room of the Marriott Wardman Park. Definitely check it out if this will be your first annual meeting.

The CGS is also hosting an open forum for graduate students on Friday, January 4, from 5:30–6:30 p.m. in the Marriott's Virginia Suite A. Immediately following the open forum will be a reception, to be held from 6:30–8:00 p.m. in the Marriott's Delaware Suite B. The CGS encourages all history students, faculty, and historical professionals to attend.

The CGS has also put together some sessions and workshops to help graduate students further their studies and plan their careers. The job market is always a topic of interest, and one such session of note is "Interviewing in the Job Market in the Twenty-First Century" (co-sponsored by CGS, the AHA's Professional Division, and the Coordinating Council for Women in History), which will be held on Friday, January 4, from 9:30–11:30 a.m. in the Blue Room of the Omni Shoreham. Graduate students will also want to attend the session "An Insider's Guide to the Job Market," on Saturday, January 5, from 9:00–11:00 a.m. (yes, it's early on a Saturday morning) in the Diplomat Ballroom of the Omni Shoreham.

Speaking of the job market, one of the highlights of the annual meeting for graduate students is the AHA's Job Register. While it may appear intimidating, the Job Register—located this year in the Marriott's Exhibit Hall C—is the place to start one's job search. Those hoping to participate in this year's Job Register should read David Darlington's article of this supplement, and more information on the AHA's web site.

Those hoping to make the transition from TA to teacher will want to check out the session, "Learning to Teach: History Education for the Twenty-First Century" (co-sponsored by the AHA's Teaching Division), on Saturday, January 5, from 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. in Washington Room 4 of the Marriott. Another interesting session of note is "Closing the 'Passion Gap' in Graduate Education: Strategies for Building Graduate Community and Sustaining the Joy of Doing History," to be held on Friday, January 4 from 2:30–4:30 p.m. in the North Cotillion of the Marriott.

Those hoping to unwind between forums, interviews, and sessions should wander over to the Exhibit Hall, located this year in Exhibit Hall A in the Marriott. The Exhibit Hall is an energetic academic marketplace where colleagues can meet and greet, exchange ideas, and network with representative of university presses (some of whom occasionally dole out free wine and hors d'oeuvres).

Another great way to unwind from the stress of the meeting is to attend one of the screenings in the AHA's second Film Festival. Initiated at the 121st Annual Meeting in Atlanta with great success, the Film Festival is a must for graduate students who also happen to be film buffs, and hope to see documentaries on subjects often overlooked by the History Channel.

The AHA also offers a discounted registration rate to graduate students: preregistration rates are $65 for student members ($75 for student nonmembers), while registration rates at the annual meeting are $70 for student members ($80 for student nonmembers). Preregistration continues through December 21, 2007, so take advantage of the lower rates now.

The AHA has also negotiated discounted travel rates with Association Travel Concepts (ATC), the official travel agency of the 122nd Annual Meeting. ATC offers excellent discounts on airfare to and from D.C. For more information on preregistration, travel, and hotel accommodations, see the AHA's web site at www.historians.org/annual/2008/index.cfm.

Even though it is closer to the holidays than usual, the 122nd Annual Meeting in Washington should be integral part of all history graduate student's semester-break plans.

—Chris Hale received his Master's degree from George Mason University and is the production manager for the AHA's publications department.



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