Publication Date

November 1, 1999

Those attending the annual meeting in Chicago will confront an ample and varied intellectual menu. True to the ecumenical spirit of this year's theme, "History for the Twenty-First Century: Continuity and Change," the Program Committee has assembled an array of panels and roundtable discussions with appeal for many tastes. To emphasize the theme of continuity, the meeting will begin on Thursday night with a plenary session, "Consigning the Twentieth Century to History." Four distinguished members of the profession—Carol Gluck (Columbia Univ.), David Levering Lewis (Rutgers Univ.), Charles Maier (Harvard Univ.), and Hans-Ulrich Wehler (Univ. of Bielefeld, Germany)—will share their perspectives with us. On the following three days the voices of established scholars will be much in evidence because, to a greater extent than usual, they are amply represented on the program. Indeed, 10 past presidents of the AHA will appear in special lunchtime sessions, informal, small-group "conversations" that will discuss the state of scholarship in their fields, the experiences of their careers, and the prospects for the profession.

The theme of change is equally well represented, most prominently in a series of roundtable discussions of the present state of scholarship in many fields, both old and new. Panels will review work in the well-established fields of ancient history, British imperialism, labor history, urban history, and diplomatic history (of the Korean War), as well as in newer areas of research, such as Atlantic history, African history, Pacific history, African American history, and women's history. Other panels will discuss the prospect for scholarship in once popular fields that may be presently in decline ("The Future of Marxist History"), and just emerging subjects that may or may not prosper (“Hip-Hop History: New Directions in Scholarship and Thought"). Happily, the fields of comparative history and of political history are very well represented on the program. There are at least 21 panels that include papers discussing two or more countries and/ or continents, and 29 panels that explore some aspect of politics, war, and diplomacy. In fact, these politics-related panels represent in microcosm the mix of old and new methods and approaches that characterize historical scholarship at the dawn of the new millennium. In some cases, such as the panel on Thomas Jefferson's election to the presidency, the subject is well established, but as the title ("The Counter-Revolution of 1800") suggests, the arguments are distinctly revisionist. In other instances, traditional topics such as armed conflict and the American Civil War are subjected to new lines of inquiry (in panels on "The State of the Art in Military History," "Social Demography and the American Civil War," and "The Origins of Civil War Historical Memory in the North"). In other politics-related presentations, such as the panels on "State Formation, Agrarian Pacification, and Wolf Hunts…," "Engendering Political History in Britain, France, and Peru, 1600-1850," and "State Projects, Political Cultures, and Civil Society in Latin America, 1890-1950," the imprint of new scholarship in environmental, gender, and cultural history is clearly in evidence.

What to make of this smorgasbord? To the members of the program committee who had the pleasure of reading detailed descriptions of this scholarship, the resulting collection of roundtables and panels is more than simply diverse—with something to satisfy every intellectual appetite. Rather, in its complex exploration of past, present, and emerging approaches, its comparative, crossdisciplinary, and multifocused dimensions, this scholarship reveals that the American historical profession is in a state of creative ferment. We cordially invite all members of the Association and the profession to join us in Chicago to partake of this very exciting research.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Attribution must provide author name, article title, Perspectives on History, date of publication, and a link to this page. This license applies only to the article, not to text or images used here by permission.