Why I’m not at the AHA

Both Historiann and Tenured Radical have posts about this weekend’s annual meeting of the American Historical Association.  Although the conference is practically next door in NYC, I’m not attending, for a number of reasons, including but not limited to the following:

1.  I just got back from a week in Ireland and am too tired and jetlagged.  Plus, that laundry won’t do itself!

2. No travel money — yes, I’ve spent it all already and then some, traveling to Glasgow earlier this year.

3.  I don’t really like this meeting — it’s too big, impersonal, and even if one is not on the job market oneself, the anxiety of job candidates is contagious. I’ve only attended if I’m on the program, interviewing candidates, or being interviewed myself (at my first AHA meeting in 1992).

4.  I can go to NYC anytime I want — and do things that are way more fun than attending conference sessions.

5.  I have a gig at church tomorrow.  Will post a link to the audio file once it’s up.

6.  I’ve got a backlog of Netflix stuff to watch, plus a baby blanket to finish.  So, I’ll be knitting and watching DVDs by the fire.

So, fellow historians — are you attending the AHA, or are you sitting this one out like me?

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7 Comments

  1. I think there are lots of wonderfully valid reasons *not* to go to the AHA. On the other hand, the only good reason for going is if you have no choice. So yeah, I think that baby blanket takes precedence. For me it would be class prep because we start the new quarter on Monday and I still need to put the finishing touches on two new-to-me syllabi.

    For me NYC would be a real trip and I have no travel funds, so I’d much rather spend my limited personal funds on attending a conference I’ll enjoy. I’m not even on the market but my skin crawls at the mere thought of the AHA meat market. The Berks is big, too, but much much warmer. Even the German Studies Association is better that way – you see some obnoxious networking but I have oodles of friends from my Berlin days, plus no one does any interviewing at the GSA.

  2. Welcome back! What a fun travel agenda you’ve had lately–I was a little concerned when you hadn’t posted for a few weeks, but now I see–there is such a thing as a life lived off-line! Enjoy the rest of your vacation–snuggling up with some knitting in front of a fire sounds just about perfect.

  3. My reason is the same as your #2 — I could foot the bill for the plane travel, but staying in a hotel for that many nights is just too much for me. I went last year because my girlfriend’s family let me stay with them in DC, but most years it’ll just be too expensive for me.

    I’m jealous of those who’ve been able to to attend, though.

  4. Nope–I only attend if I’m on the program–and to be honest, I avoid being on the program. I won’t propose a paper or a panel. If a friend does, and wants me to attend, and it’s in a decent city, and I haven’t made too many other travel commitments that year, MAYBE.

    Independent scholars have no travel money, so that’s never an issue–or always an issue.

    Conferences just strike me as a ridiculous and wasteful way to talk about our research in 2009. Have a jobs fair, that’s fine, but why would anyone else cross the country and spend a fortune to make a presentation or ask questions that they could post online for free? There has to be a better way.

  5. Ooh, yeah, the job anxiety could give a person a contact anxiety-attack. I thought about going, but then blew out a tire on my way back from Texas (because I can’t travel without incident). That took care of that!

    Ireland sounds like a wonderful trip!

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