Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Historical Society's 2010 Conference

Historical Inquiry in the New Century
June 2010, George Washington University, Washington, DC

Since its inception over a decade ago, the Historical Society has been committed to fostering critical engagement and dialogue among historians in and out of the academy. With the theme of “Historical Inquiry in the New Century,” the 2010 THS conference seeks to take stock of where the profession currently stands.

Under this broad rubric, we invite participants to address a wide range of questions and issues, including: What are the current historiographical debates? Where do particular fields currently stand? What's changed for the good—or the worse—in specific areas? What have been the clearest criticisms of the profession? What are the truly "big questions" historians face, and are we adequately grappling with them? How do THS members want to see history written? What, in fact, are our aims/goals for the history that we write? What are the audiences for the history we write? Who's reading us? What impact, if any, do we have on larger, non-scholarly debates? To what extent have academic historians snapped out of the rigid concepts and pedantic writing that has long marked our profession?

In an age that sees itself as moving beyond modernity, the ground has shifted under the various grand narratives of its European origins. The 2010 THS conference hopes to cast a critical eye on traditional and revisionist chapters in that narrative, such as the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment, or the Industrial Revolution. At the same time, we hope to promote ongoing efforts to frame the histories of Africa, Asia, and the Islamic world in terms of categories not shaped by European narratives. We expect that historians working with many different kinds of sources and representing all fields and perspectives will be party to these discussions. We also envision this conference as a conversation about what makes history a discipline. Since historians cannot rely on a single method to fit all situations, we expect to take a close look at different approaches to the past. We are interested as well in the challenges created by the nature of available sources, and by the issues that arise when one borrows theoretical approaches from other disciplines. In addition to historiographical and state-of-the-field papers, of course, we also invite papers on specific research areas in such diverse fields as military, religious, business, political, world, and intellectual history.

We hope that this seventh national meeting will serve as a point of departure for a clear-sighted analysis of the likely future of historical studies in the new century.

Please submit individual paper proposals or panel proposals to Eric Arnesen, THS 2010 Program Chair, at arnesen[at] or Eric Arnesen, The George Washington University, Columbian College of Arts & Sciences, Department of History, 801 22nd St NW, Phillips 335, Washington, DC, 20052.

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