Publication Date

November 1, 2000

The 115th Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association in Boston will focus on "Practices of Historical Narrative," and toward that end, the Program Committee has assembled an array of panels and events that seek to encourage reflection on how historians tell the story of the past and, by doing so, to include observations on the many ways in which historical narratives are constructed. The meeting will formally begin on the evening of Thursday, January .f, 2001 , with a plenary session that brings a unique, interdisciplinary perspective to bear on the conference theme. With AHA President Eric Foner (Columbia University) presiding, we will hear presentations by Laurie Kahn-Leavitt (Blueberry Hill Productions), a distinguished filmmaker; Deirdre McCloskey (University of Illinois at Chicago), a leading scholar of the history of economic thought; and Richard Price (College of William and Mary), the eminent historical anthropologist.

During the remaining three days of the meeting itself, the work of established scholars, of those in mid-career, and the new contributions of graduate students and recent degree recipients will all be much in evidence. In addition, special midday sessions have been scheduled to discuss the work and procedures of the Program Committee and the editorial strategies and practices of the American Historical Review. Overall, this annual meeting will offer a large number of opportunities for scholars and teachers throughout the profession to engage in intellectual and professional exchange.

Our conference theme is well represented in significant sessions devoted to the exploration of narrative practices in our discipline and how they have evolved overtime. One such session will explore the enduring methodological impacts of Carlo Ginzburg’s Cheese and the Worms:The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller; another gathering will examine the writing of biography and autobiography (and will include an appearance by Edmund Morris, whose recent biography of Ronald Reagan has sparked so much controversy); a panel cosponsored by the Conference on Latin American History will present recent work on narratives of conquest; and yet another will present novel interpretations of one of the most challenging historical episodes for the writing of narrative itself-the Salem witchcraft trials of the 17th century. Some other special sessions will include a panel of distinguished commentators discussing the construction of new narratives in American political history; sessions on the oppositional viewpoints to be encountered in any reading of the narratives of the history of the Ottoman Empire; a roundtable convened in honor of President Foner that examines the impact of his work on the writing of history; several gatherings which study recent efforts to reconstruct the historical narrative of race, identity, and colonialism; and a special session to examine the impact of sociobiology in our discipline.

Much like the plenary itself, there are also a variety of sessions at the meeting which will study the impact of other disciplines on the writing of history such as cartography, agronomy and botany, and the visual arts.

Professional societies affiliated with the AHA will feature significant panels on the meeting program as well. In addition to the Conference on La tin American History, meeting participants will find an array of sessions organized by such bodies as the Medieval Academy of America, the American Catholic Historical Association, the Society for Italian Historical Studies, the Society for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies, the Society for Austrian and Hapsburg History, the Conference Group for Central European History, the Oral History Association, the Conference on Lesbian and Gay History, and the World History Association, to name a few.

The respective divisions of the AHA will also be important participants in the work of the meeting. Sessions devoted to a thorough examination of a wide range of issues facing the profession will also be found on the program, focusing on such matters as the proliferation of electronic publishing (the Research Division), revisions of the Western civilization survey course (the Teaching Division), the place of post-tenure review in the profession (the Professional Division), and the continuing problems faced in the academic job market (the Professional Division). (See also the article on page 1.)

Suitably organized around a defining theme, yet broadly construed and distributed across the many subfields of the discipline, the program for the 115th Annual Meeting of the Association has a wide and compelling appeal. For the members of the Program Committee who had the great pleasure of reading the many proposals made for inclusion in the meeting proceedings, the task was exciting and quite stimulating. The committee's work made vivid how diverse, vibrant, and lively our field of study and pedagogy is. With great enthusiasm, we invite members of the Association, and their associates across the fields of the humanities and social sciences, to join us in Boston for a wonderful first weekend in January!

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