All posts filed under: Conferences

The Western Association of Women Historians 2015 Conference, Sacramento

Ok, folks. Here is a brief run-down of the conference I attended May 15-16, 2015. Many bits of conversations from this trip will find their way to a future AD blog posts. I love that I was able to talk through ideas with other scholars and feel inspired to pursue both academic writing and “on the side” blog topics on various issues. Until then, here is the Western Association of Women Historians 2015 conference, in brief. Historian Jane DeHart (emerita, UC Santa Barbara) declared, “Research and writing is a collaborative effort.” This contradicts much of what the public perceives of as the historian’s burden. In fact, it challenges the typical working experience of many intellectuals! But I trust the words of an incredibly successful academic when she proclaims that relationships are of utmost importance to the researcher-writer. (Additionally, one might notice a grammatical error in the statement. Are “research” and “writing” two separate actions? Deeply and somewhat obviously, no. If one writes, one researches, and vice versa.) So, here I am at the Western Association …

“Trees and the Wild”: Matt Pond, the American Pastoral and the Sublime [Condensed Version]

*The article below is a shortened version of a conference paper of the same name that I presented at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference held in New Orleans, LA on April 4, 2015. Additionally, the presentation is portion a longer work exploring the role of musicians in the twenty-first century speaking to the idea of the landscape in American culture. Scholars show that American culture, in part, developed around the people’s reaction to nature and the wilderness. Americanist Henry Nash Smith describes the pull of the frontier in Virgin Land (1950), Perry Miller depicts a nature-manipulated change in the Puritan mind in Errand into the Wilderness (1956), and cultural variations are explored in Roderick Frazier Nash’s meticulous search for American interpretation and interaction with the outdoors in Wilderness and the American Mind (1965). This nature-driven response permeates American cultural production. American nature, and the wilderness, serves as an unavoidable topic of discussion when asking the question, “Who – or what – is America?” In the nineteenth century, Ralph Waldo Emerson reflected on …

ASEH 2015: A Grad Student Walks into a Room…

In the following days after the ASEH I began to think more broadly about the experience in Washington D.C. with the environmental historians. Somehow, I need a way to debrief myself from the event and file the most important information in my memory within close reach. It might sound like hyperbole, but the weekend was a kind of renewal for me as a scholar – a scholar who is in the “mid life crisis” portion of her doctorate: finishing coursework, preparing for the comprehensive exam, and on the cusp of the dissertation. After eight years of college, my brain is fried and there are moments where I feel emotionally and mentally dry. How can I begin the dissertation process if I feel like this? Well, the ASEH was the answer and I will tell you why. My venerable advisor constantly points over his shoulder and tells me “the conversation is out there.” And proceeds to elaborate on the frustration of the graduate school myth of settlement. We are not in grad school to find our …

ASEH 2015, Day 4: It’s what you DO.

From my perspective, the final session day of the 2015 American Society of Environmental History national conference connected general threads of conversation, rounded the jagged edges of exchange, and ultimately set us up for new work this year. National conferences are fantastic because clearly they function as the literal meeting ground for wide-scattered scholars. Colleagues who worked together for decades “caught up” socially and professionally, while newbies like me met other graduate students and season veterans, and we cherish these connections. The sessions I attended today seemed to tie up loose ends and touch on topics that might be on the periphery, but also topics that hold a continual place in academic conversation. This was a long week and the morning sessions materialized early. Early. Normally a morning person, there was a real struggle to get out of the hotel bed. I was glad I did, though, because the EnviroTech breakfast was well worth it. I had the opportunity to talk with numerous ASEH members – professors and graduate students alike – which is extremely …

ASEH 2015, Day 3: Questions of Activism and Engagement

All are getting into the groove of the American Society of Environmental History 2015 conference. Today contained a half day of sessions and followed by an afternoon of field trips. Unfortunately, I did not attend an excursion, but can speak to the morning panels. From the talk in the lobby (an exciting gathering that lit up the lounge like a house party on a dreary Friday afternoon) it sounds like the trips were a success, even in the rain and cold. The downside to a conference like the national ASEH is that one cannot hear each and every paper presented. There must be a way to access the content in our twenty-first century digital world. I implore the organizers of ASEH to consider posting abstracts on their website for the benefit of attendees. Alas, this synopsis will contain only the sessions I attended, but again – I was not disappointed. “Art into Activism, Activism into Art,” Chris Wilhelm (moderator, College of Coastal Georgia), Elizabeth (Scout) Blum (Troy University), Michael Commito (McMaster University), and Britanny Luby …

ASEH 2015 national conference, Washington D.C.

At the end of Day One of the 2015 American Society for Environmental History national conference titled “Turning Protest into Policy: Environmental Values and Governance in Changing Societies,” I can see that it will be a real “branching out” for this Americanist. While my home base at Penn State Harrisburg provides a varied and deeply rooted study of American culture, this conference allows me to extend my reach beyond American studies into other realms of environmental history: transnationalism, legal history, and the sciences. The conference also (clearly) provides an opportunity to interact with academics and non-academics alike. A few environmental “celebrities” (well, at least in my mind!) are in town [including Donald Worster, who wrote Nature’s Economy (1977) which is on my comprehensive exam reading list]. The first session today was a workshop hosted by the National Archives and facilitated by a historian at the NA, a retired historian for the Army Corps of Engineers, and a scholar from Wellesley. Immensely informative, this session presented the details, challenges, and benefits of working with federal records. …