Report from the AHA, Day 1

Posted: January 6, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Well, it’s been an interesting day.  Trying to get some stuff done now that things are winding down…well, it never really winds down in the lobby, which is where we have free internet access.  They charge in the rooms themselves.  Personally, I think that’s kinda playing the cheapskate, but I guess folks who normally stay at hotels this swank, connected to a huge luxury mall (not an exaggeration), usually don’t quibble about such things.

Anyway, things are gradually sorting themselves out.  The AHA isn’t difficult once you know what you’re doing, and I’m really seeing the virtues of going once to familiarize oneself with the process.  The job center is actually very quiet and laid back, orderly and peaceful.  Except for the nervous folks prowling about; job seekers.  We’ll see what luck I have; I’m not expecting much this time.  Next year, hopefully a different story.   Apparently the prognosis for the future of PhD’s is pretty uniformly dismal, according to my friends who attended the “Variety of the Profession” session at 3 p.m.  Wow, that’s news I didn’t know.  But we will win through somehow.  I hope…If not, I could always take up extreme sports.  Just kidding.  Sort of.

I did attend a session this afternoon, one of the medieval ones, on “transgressive behavior.”  Very interesting, particularly the paper on medieval forgery.  I’ll give more details on that later, as I think I’m writing up notes on medieval happenings for my friends at, so you might see my session notes over there, after I confirm that.  If not, I’ll fill you in a little later.  I will say that I was a bit ticked off to discover, more than half-way through the session, that I had completely overlooked a concurrent session on the crusades, with a bunch of papers that looked really fascinating (not that the session I was attending was “boring”–quite the contrary!!  But I’m much more a crusades scholar than an expert on female monasticism…)

Socially, it’s been very nice so far; I ran into my friends and colleagues Michelle and Kathleen (well, Kathleen is an “erstwhile” colleague in the sense that she defended in August!).  By chance I ran into Matthew Gabriele from Virginia Tech afterward, while I was comparing notes with some of my Rochester friends.  A very fine chap, it’s always a pleasure and an honor to talk with him.  I’ve met up with my friend Tanya, from Washington U, St. Louis, who as always has a much more positive outlook on life than I do!!!  My close friend and roommate of three years, Jonathan Robins, PhD, is somewhere in Boston, and I’m looking forward to meeting up with him at some point between now and Sunday.  Yet another rare person, and hands down one of the finest cooks I’ve ever met.  Believe me, I ate quite well while I was his roommate.  My friend Habtamu Tegegne, a Frederick Douglas Institute Pre-doctoral Fellow, and really great person, arrived this evening, so our suite is now basically complete.  Hmmm…who else have I run into?  Aside from my friends Jay, Michelle, and Kathleen.  Ah, and Pelin hasn’t arrived yet, at least I don’t think so.  It’s good to see people; even though this doesn’t have the same “feel” as Kalamazoo (what conference does?), the social aspect of the conference is a high point so far.

The netbook is working out really well; I don’t think my laptop has had this long of a break since I got it!  I’m a bit behind with an application or two, but I should remedy that either later tonight or early tomorrow.  Sigh…My determination to produce good scholarship is stronger than ever.  Though, after going through the book sellers, it’s depressing to see that people just won’t stop the bloody writing!!!  Hold up already!!  I don’t WANT to see another article (or, as I saw today, several volumes of articles) that have some impact on my research (in this case, Muslim-Christian relations and the crusades).  I did do pretty well at Penguin, though; all hardbacks for $$10, all paperbacks for $5; and I got a $20 paperback for $5.  It’s a new portrait of Robert E. Lee, based extensively on papers either discovered or “re-” discovered of late.  I also picked up an interesting study called “The Bloody Shirt: Terror after the Civil War”; it discusses the activities of “unreconstructed” Southerners after the war, which the book rather bluntly (and correctly, in my opinion) terms “terrorist” actions.  Also, some Tacitus, and a new critical edition of the Aeneid, which I confess is the first copy of the masterpiece I’ve had the pleasure to own.  Not bad…I’m waiting for Sunday morning, of course; there should be better deals then.

Well, that’s about it.  Oh, except to note that, for some reason, I’ve had nearly 250 hits on the blog in six days; a rather bemusing statistic, which is either a blip, or a sign that maybe I am posting decent stuff…Time to get a few more things done, before getting some sleep… More tomorrow!

  1. Andrew Holt says:

    Thanks for the reporting Dan. I enjoyed reading this and look forward to your other reports.

  2. Karyn says:

    So, are there any undergrads there, or is this conference for the established and job-seekers? Frankly, some of your sessions sound really interesting and I hope you can give me a run-down sometime.

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