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Showing posts from January, 2011

Boston, Day Three

Boston Day Three:                 Busy morning at the conference.  Late last night and early this moring I read the latest work by David Waldstreicher, a free desk copy provided by one of the publishers Thursday afternoon.  This book, comfortably part of Hill & Wang's series of teaching resources, is a little more than 150pg explanation of how slavery impacted the calls for Constitutional revision, the debates over the Constitution in 1787, and the impact of perspectives about slavery- North and South- during the extended six-month or so ratification period.  Waldstreicher does an admirable job analyzing all the moments when slavery rose as an issue, makes a pretty solid rebuttal to Matt Mason's contention that discussing slavery was partly symbolic but mostly diversionary, and gives students a pretty succint overview of the Constitution's origins as well.                 Spent lunch time at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  This Venetian palace, designed for a colle…

Boston, Day Two

Boston, AHA Annual Meeting, Day Two                 I spent the morning at a great panel on motherhood and violence in America before the Civil War.  Three presentations, chaired by University of Washington’s Stephanie Camp and commented on by University of Mississipp’s Deirdre Cooper Owens.  The first and second papers centered on the use of violence by mothers.  Katy Simpson Smith (ABD, University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill) provided a series of case studies looking at a proletarian white mother, a Catawba Native American mother, and a series of enslaved African American mothers.  Smith persuasively warded off any instinct to generalize or universalize about any “essential” maternal behavior by looking at several different uses of violence by women of different cultural traditions; the paper raised uncomfortable questions about the use of violence in a loving way to instill discipline on the more mild end all the way to the use of infanticide to resist slavery and tribal desperat…

Boston, Day One

In Boston to attend the annual American Historical Association meeting:  For anyone not familiar with these large, academic conferences this is the largest for the history profession.  It meets ever year right after New Year’s and provides publishers with an opportunity to present new publications for course adoption or research.  Also, working historians can present research-in-progress for feedback from informed audience members or discuss the state of the field at roundtables.  Unlike smaller conferences throughout the year which have more specific chronological or field-specific parameters, this is open to all professional historians, and is therefore the traditional place for universities and colleges who are hiring to interview historians looking for work.  In addition to all of that hustle there's also a great amount of social networking during meals and late into the evenings.      I had an early flight out of Houston Bush IAH this morning and was fortunate to meet two…