Looking Forward.

My original plan for this blog post was to write about my goals for the New Year. However, I have been so busy that I haven’t had time, yet, to sit down and formulate specific goals

The things I will continue to work on include my book, my website, blogging and tweeting. On a more personal level, I plan to continue skating. If I could test, compete, or perform in 2019, that would be thrilling.

One new project I will be involved with in 2019 is the Jane Austen’s Regency World Book Club which I will be facilitating at the Jones Library, Amherst. The first book we will read is Pride and Prejudice. All are welcome.

Poster Session

I was part of the poster session at the recent American Historical Association (AHA). I had never done a poster before. I put in a poster proposal because you can do that on your own. The AHA doesn’t accept single paper proposals. I never thought it would be accepted; I was pleasantly surprised when it was.

Of course then I had to learn how to do  it, The AHA has been doing poster sessions for six years but did not  give any specific instructions or tips. I decided to use PowerPoint. It was a steep learning curve, but in the end I got it done.

The poster session was held on Saturday from 2 to 5.  That time frame allowed people to come before or after a session. This was good planning but the location of the session was another story. It was in the Hynes Convention Center, Ballroom C. This was on the third floor while the book exhibit was on the first floor. It was about as far away from the rest of the AHA as you could get. This really cut down on walk-in traffic.

I really enjoyed doing it. I was able to talk to a lot more people than I would have if I gave a paper. It was very nice to present my work and get feedback. Doing a poster gives you an opportunity to think about conveying your work in a different manner.

News

I recently got a yearlong appointment as a Five College Women’s Studies Research Center Associate. I actually found out in April but I have been very busy and a little reluctant to toot my own horn.  I got the associateship because of my new project, Dames, Dishes, and Degrees. I also will be giving a paper at the History of Education Society 50th annual meeting in November and I will be giving a poster presentation at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours putting the above information on my website. That felt a little strange because of course my website is entitled Amy Mittelman Brewing Battles. I have many questions about how I will maintain a focus on beer and Brewing Battles and move towards prompting and discussing the new book.

I have been on Twitter for about six months and I am one tweet away from 100. As if have probably said before I feel twitter is best for things I probably would not blog about. I also like that you can follow a conversation about trending or immediate events. It is a lot of fun to follow #Yankees during a Yankee game.

I still have not really figured out how my various online activates connect or should connect. I had decided to keep tweeting and the blog separate but I am rethinking that. I also do not really see how to keep the website vibrant since most of the new content winds up on the blog. One idea I have is to put my twitter feed on the website, but I am not sure how to do that. I also think it would be nice to give my readers the opportunity to tweet about the blog. Again, I will have to figure out how to do that.

Getting the Associateship is a wonderful opportunity; I am most excited about having a Mount Holyoke College library card. I feel motivated to think about new directions for both my work and my online presence.

Attending the AHA

I returned yesterday from attending the American Historical Association annual meeting in New York City. The AHA is always very large and the panels are usually not that interesting. Most of the people attending are in some way involved in the job process; either interviewing or being interviewed. I am very glad I do not do that anymore. Smaller conferences like the ones the ADHS sponsors are much nicer and have more interesting panels. The few Berkshire Conferences I have attended have also been very nice.

The Hilton was the headquarters for the conference; it was very poorly run. Our room had no remote control for the TV, no hair dryer and no pen or pad. You could not get a bellman and the check-in was a nightmare. The drinks is the bar were ridiculously expensive; $11 for a Guinness and $4 for a seltzer. Of course it is New York but still.

The ADHS is an affiliate organization and always holds sessions concurrently, mostly due to W. Scott Haine. The first panel was on Friday afternoon and was on “Writers, the Creative Process, and the Influence of Drink and Drugs.” The papers were very interesting; the main question that came up for me was that of sociability and whether the sociability of a psychoactive substance affects how society looks at the substance. Alcohol has always been seen as a social activator while drugs such as opium or heroin are usually characterized as individualistic in their effects. Does society look at alcohol or coffee more favorably because of the perceived sociability of those drugs?

The other ADHS panel was one that I was on; “American Alcohol Studies Matures: The Class of 1979, Thirty Years of Reflection.” I am part of the “Class of 1979” because I helped found the Alcohol Temperance History Group (the former name of the ADHS). Dan Malleck, who is the editor of the ADHS journal, chaired the session. The other panelists either published books in 1979 or were influenced by books published in 1979.

We had a good discussion, both between the panelists and with the audience. There were many questions about transnational history and the study of alcohol and other drugs. David Courtwright, the incoming president of the ADHS, made the point that we too often do the single country or single drug kind of book. This is definitely true but there is also the problem of doability, especially for dissertations. If anyone is interested in my paper, email me and I can send you a copy.

Besides seeing Eric Foner, my dissertation sponsor and a good friend, the only other panel I attended was “Discrimination/Harassment on the Job”, sponsored by the Professional Division of the AHA and other groups. People spoke about the various, ongoing problems facing women, people of color, glbt, and disabled people seeking and retaining employment as historians.

Some of the stories were horrifying; several people remarked that Fortune 500 companies are ahead of academia in dealing with issues of family and work life balance as well as policing discriminatory hiring practices. Although I have not worked at a large corporation, I have worked in non-academic settings – hospitals. These institutions are just as capable of being discriminatory and harassing as your average history department. I think it is a bit of wistful thinking on the part of academics to believe that people working for corporations have it better.

Although I do not make my living as an academic, I do consider myself a professional historian and that is something I am proud of. I am also proud of being a nurse, an author, and a mother. The idea that one’s adult life goes along a linear path was never true for women and is increasing not true for men as well.