Townhouse Notes January 2017
I have been immensely gratified over the past year and a half to hear from so many Perspectives readers, new and old, offering both positive and critical takes on what we publish. Perspectives receives formal letters, in-person feedback at conferences, comments on our website and the AHA’s Facebook page, laudatory tweets, and variegated subtweets. It’s been an honor to serve the Association’s membership and the discipline of history by ensuring that each issue is of the highest caliber.
It’s also important that each issue be authored as much as possible by historians, no matter their career stage or formal occupation. Perspectives enters its 55th year having grown from an eight-page newsletter listing the previous year’s departmental hires to a newsmagazine inspired by the vibrancy of the AHA’s work and that of the discipline. This transformation, helmed by editors who include Robert Townsend, Pillarise Sudhir, Allen Mikaelian, and Shatha Almutawa, presents opportunities for us and for you.
On the AHA’s end, we detail our own activities, including the progress of initiatives like Tuning and Career Diversity, as well as the work of our Council, divisions, and committees. We also seek to communicate our excitement about each year’s annual mee ng through ar cles about each meeting’s flavor (literally—for the last two years, we’ve included stories about local food cultures in Denver and Atlanta). On your end, the editorial direction of the magazine is a product of your input. Our themed issues might seem to be entirely commissioned, but this is mostly not the case. At times we wind up with a critical mass of articles in our pipeline dealing with a specific historical topic or approach. Happy accidents like these reflect readers’ ititiatives and priorities. We do commission pieces, but much of what you read in the Features section comes in unsolicited. Perspectives is more than a member benefit, therefore—it’s one of the many ways the AHA serves our members and the historical community.
We aren’t the American Historical Review, though it, too, is authored by historians and exists under the aegis of the AHA. Instead, Perspectives gives a platform to voices from our community who wish to work in genres of historical writing different from scholarly articles. These publications complement each other, both testifying to the high standards and vibrant intellectual life of the historical profession.
Nonetheless, Perspectives can climb higher, with your help. We need to expand our coverage of topics outside of North America and more actively pursue articles about teaching and pedagogy, including from faculty at two-year colleges. Graduate students and their interests should have better visibility in our pages, too. Perspectives isn’t doing its job if any of the AHA’s constituencies abandon it as irrelevant.
So we hope to hear from you, read your work, and learn about how you’re shaping the world through historical awareness. Perspectives on History is not only the title of this newsmagazine, it’s also one of the gifts our community can present to public life. Let us know how we can support you.
—Allison Miller, editor
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