Graduate Students and the 118th Annual Meeting
Christian A. Hale, December 2003
Does the AHA's annual meeting benefit the typical graduate student? A look at the 118th annual meeting's plentiful roster of seminars, networking opportunities, and job opportunities suggests that the answer to this question is a definitive "Yes!"
First and foremost, an appearance at the 118th annual meeting will give any graduate student an advantage to get ahead in the profession. The meeting offers a variety of seminars geared toward helping graduate students meet their needs and prepare for their role in the future of the profession. This year is even better in this regard because the AHA is offering a two-day premeeting workshop, "Entering the Second Stage of Online History Scholarship," on Wednesday, January 7 and Thursday, January 8, 2004. This workshop, a joint project with the American Council of Learned Societies' History E-Book Project, Columbia University Press, and the History Cooperative, will discuss the future of academic historical writing, scholarship, and publishing for the 21st century. The session is a great opportunity for graduate students to share their thoughts and concerns about this issue with historians grappling with the challenges and possibilities of new ways of presenting history. This workshop is free to anyone who wishes to attend. Even if you can't make it to the whole workshop, definitely try to catch a few of the sessions, particularly the "Plenary Session 1: Getting Started" with Roy Rosenzweig, director of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, and "Plenary Session 2: Where Do We Go from Here?" chaired by Stanley M. Katz of Princeton University.
Graduate Students might also want to attend the "Opening Session" of the Annual Meeting on Thursday evening, January 8, at 7:30 p.m. U.S. Senator Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.) will receive the inaugural "Theodore Roosevelt-Woodrow Wilson Public Service Award," for his outstanding contributions to the public understanding of history.
On Friday morning, January 9, at 9:30 a.m., is the first session of the AHA Program Committee: "Interviewing in the Job Market in the 21st Century," with William Cronon, the vice president of the AHA's Professional Division. This seminar is intended to help graduate students to find their way through the seemingly dense jungle of the historical job market. Later that day, at 2:30 p.m., the Professional Division, along with the AHA's Committee for Graduate Students, and the AHA Task Force on Public History, will sponsor a roundtable discussion, "The Job Hunt." Also at 2:30 p.m. on Friday is a must-attend seminar for all graduate students pondering the merits of master's degree vs. those of the PhD. The AHA's Committee on the Master's Degree in History (CMDH) will, in its forum, "Retrieving the Master's Degree from the Dustbin of History," discuss the future of the master's degree within the historical profession. Finally, on Friday evening at 5:30 p.m., the AHA's Committee on Graduate Students will offer an "Open Forum" for graduate students who wish to express their own thoughts on issues of concern. On Saturday morning, January 10, at 9:30 a.m., the Professional Division will offer a panel discussion entitled "The Future of Graduate Training in History." This panel, chaired by Lynn Hunt, will be a great opportunity for graduate students to hear senior scholars talk about the future of methodology and historiography and perhaps to pose questions to them. At 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, the AHA's Committee on Graduate Students will offer a seminar, "Into the Classroom! Teaching Tips and Strategies for TAs and Future Faculty."
Immediately following its "Open Forum," the AHA's Committee for Graduate Students will hold a reception on Friday, January 9, 2004, at 6:30 p.m. Another reception that graduate students might consider attending is the "Entering the Second Stage of Online Historical Scholarship" reception on Wednesday night, January 7, at 6:00 p.m. On Saturday, January 9, from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., graduate students are also invited to stop by the lounge provided by the Coordinating Council for Women in History, located in Room 8228 of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, where they are encouraged to get to know their future colleagues.
Another annual meeting benefit (although it has often been perceived less charitably) that the AHA offers to graduate students is the Job Register. This year's Job Register will again seek to offer an effective atmosphere in which job candidates can interview for available positions. Those hoping to participate in the 2004 Job Register should be advised, however, that the ever-changing nature of the academic job market has made this year's Job Register a bit different, as many search committees have opted to prearrange interviews they will be conducting at the meeting. As a result, there may be a fewer positions for which candidates can apply on site and hope to be interviewed, than in previous meetings. This new development should not, however, deter graduate students from using the Job Register. It still provides an effective opportunity for networking with history department members and with fellow graduate students in the same boat.
So graduate students should definitely attend the 118th Annual Meeting. If anything, attendance will give graduate students a glimpse of the wealth of intellectual, social, and economic opportunities that the historical profession has to offer.
—Chris Hale is AHA's production coordinator for publications and the AHR ad manager.