Publication Date

January 6, 2019

Perspectives Section

Perspectives Daily

“Wish you were here!” won’t cut it for these historians. We asked a few AHA19 attendees what they would write on a postcard home from the 133rd AHA annual Meeting in Chicago this year. Here are their responses!

Alex Cummings

Alex Cummings at the Registration Center.

“We’re friends on Twitter!”

Alex Sayf Cummings (@akbarjenkins), Georgia State University

Not only is Alex Cummings the director of graduate studies at Georgia State University, an editor for Tropics of Meta, and an active twitterstorian, they’re also a veteran of AHA annual meetings. “When I first started attending the AHA lo these many years ago,” Cummings jokes, “it felt like a big, vast, unknowable territory full of strangers. Now it feels like coming home—you realize even a profession as large and broad as our own can be a warm, familiar community. Meanwhile, twitterstorians has created whole new bonds and ties among scholars that this AHA, more than any past one, has made clear.”

Catherine Medici-Thiemann

Catherine Medici-Thiemann in the lobby of the Palmer House Hilton.

“Having a great time!”

Catherine Medici-Thiemann (@CMediciT), Creighton University and University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Catherine Medici-Thiemann, an academic service learning coordinator and a lecturer, generally attends much smaller, topically focused conferences. At AHA19, she did a little bit of everything: attending sessions focused on the practice of women’s and gender history, running “a workshop on network analysis,” which she first learned at a previous AHA annual meeting—“it was nice to pass that knowledge and skill on,” she says— and participating in a lightning round, “which was an interesting way to get feedback on a new project.” Medici-Thiemann also took advantage of the meeting’s location: “I have been soaking in the glamorous atmosphere of the historic hotels and enjoying what Chicago has to offer.”

Jorge Rodriguez

Jorge Juan Rodríguez V at the Exhibit Hall.

“I finally found the historians that ‘do religion!’”

Jorge Juan Rodríguez V (@JJRodV), Union Theological Seminary

As a student of modern religious history, Jorge Rodríguez attended his first AHA annual meeting this year hoping to find other historians of religion and to build community in his particular sub-discipline. “In religion spaces,” he says, “we’re often the ‘historians,’ kind of out of place as we use different methods than some of our colleagues in religious studies and theology. But in history spaces we’re often the people who ‘do religion,’ kind of out of place . . . It’s taken me a while to find a community of historians of religion to learn and build with and I’m glad I could find that here.”

Marlene Daut

Marlene L. Daut at the Hyatt Regency, the site of the 2019 MLA annual meeting.

“History and literature united!”

Marlene L. Daut (@FictionsofHaiti), University of Virginia

This year the AHA and the MLA met in the same city on the same weekend, recognized each other’s badges, and set up a number of parallel sessions. One of the most ambitious set of sessions revolved around Haiti. For Marlene L. Daut, associate professor and associate director of the Carter G. Woodson Institute at the University of Virginia, the cross-disciplinary exchange tied in wonderfully with her area of specialization: “My work is all about the intersections between histories and fictions of the Haitian Revolution, which in the long 19th century were often less distinct than one might imagine. It was so great therefore to not have to choose between MLA and AHA this year. This happy accident prompted several scholars in the field to create jointly sponsored panels, so that the cross-disciplinary conversations we deeply cherish in Haitian studies could happen here in Chicago, at two of the major professional organizations of the academy.”

What would you say to the folks back home? Let us know using the comments below, or on Twitter, using #AHA19!

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