Friday, January 06, 2006

The Last Two Days at AHA

Sigh. Steve Spielberg (who was supposed to get an award) was a no show. Found out early in the afternoon that he couldn’t make it and that he had recorded a DVD instead. While I’m sure he had some very interesting things to say, I didn’t think it was worth sticking around for a simulated performance.

And I’ve only been to one panel so far, on “New Perspectives in Urban and Political History” which was quite good. But I’ve gotten the sense by now that AHA is more a meet market than a place to hear panels. People go to interview and be interviewed for jobs. Some schools rent rooms or suites, others get a cubicle in a ginormous ballroom where they interview between ten and forty candidates for a single position. And because you’re in a cubicle, you can hear what the person being interviewed next to you is saying. One professor I spoke with complained that all the people going for jobs look the same—very “corporate.” Though I’m not sure how else one would look for an interview—unkempt?

Some other things I learned . . . apparently there are certain hotels that have banned the AHA because historians are cheap on the tips. And one year, when the conference was in DC, restaurants had signs in their windows that said: We serve historians. Because again, historians are cheap and when they come in clumps you can spot their attire from a few blocks away.

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