A Roundtable Done Right: The Art of History in an Age of Revolutions

Now that I am back from a very exciting SHEAR weekend, I have been reviewing my notes and processing all of the ideas that percolated during three days of panels. Not only do I have great suggestions for my own work, but I am inspired by other projects and methods I observed over the weekend.

While I enjoyed all of the panels I attended, one in particular grabbed my attention. Panel 20: The Art of History in an Age of Revolution was fantastic. Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw presided over a panel that included Zara Anishanslin (University of Delaware), Jane Kamensky (Harvard University), Cathy Kelly (University of Oklahoma and the Journal of the Early Republic), and Paul Staiti (Mt. Holyoke College). Ann Fabian (Rutgers University) provided an insightful comment at the end.

Yet this was no ordinary panel, it was really more of a roundtable. Each participant shared a piece of art, or a few, from their work and then explained how they use it to unlock a story or approach to history. Anishanslin shared a portrait of Anne Shippen Willing. She explained how she used the portrait to create an imagined community between the subject (Willing), the painter (Robert Feke), the weaver of the silk (Simon Julins), and the artist behind the silk design (Anna Garthwaite). By exploring these individuals, she was able to reveal deep connections between various communities in the eighteenth century Atlantic World. Jane Kamensky showed a portrait of John Singleton Copley and told the story of his life in the middle—the middle of communities, the middle of families, and the middle of empires. Paul Staiti showed a portrait of George Washington and compared many of its features to a famous portrait of King George III. These pictures replaced the images that defined the British Empire and suggested what a republic should look like. Cathy Kelly ended by exploring a republic created from taste by also showing a series of portraits. Kelly argued that “taste” told Americans where to look, how to view things around them, and to read text. For example, a portrait of George Washington guided citizens how to shape their identity and replicate his greatness.

After the short presentations Ann Fabian asked a few questions to start the conversation. How do visuals differ depending on what artist or figure we consider? When analyzing an image and its historical significance, how do you get from looking and seeing to fighting and working? Who and what do visuals leave out? Given the deluge of image in today’s society, are students good interpreters of visuals? How have they surprised you with their interpretations?

The conversation with the audience largely centered around how to use visuals in the classroom and why more historians need to engage with visuals (and do so more effectively). The discussion was riveting and I encourage you reach out to the panels for their thoughts and read the tweets on the panel by many of the audience members. (See #PN20 on Twitter). I also storified my live tweets from this panel.

As an audience member, I had some observations about why this panel was so compelling. This panel was the last of a long day of sessions and stood in between the audience and cocktails. Yet, the audience was captivated, so clearly the panelists did a few things right. I have four take-aways for future panels.

  1. The participants. Unfortunately this suggestion makes the panel hard to replicate. The panelists were special. They are established, successful historians that can speak to both scholarship and teaching. They were funny, engaging, passionate, and some of the smoothest presenters I have seen. The combination of art historians and historians that use art proved to be particularly useful to the conversation as well.
  2. It was clear the panelists had discussed the structure and goals of the panel beforehand. Or the organizer did a fantastic job laying down the law. Each presenter spoke for no more than a few minutes and with the common goal of using art to show research methods, teaching strategies, and make an argument about the “Age of Revolutions.”
  3. The audience asked questions, they did not proselytize or provide comments. I know this complaint is evergreen, but it was refreshing to hear an audience that genuinely wanted to engage the panelists.
  4. The commenter provided open-ended questions for the panelists to consider and the panelists actually responded to them and to one another. They did not ramble off topic. One person did not dominate the conversation. They gave thoughtful, detailed responses, but were mindful of the length at which they spoke.

There has been much discussion in SHEAR and other organizations about how to liven up conferences and move away from the paper presentation format. This panel demonstrated one option for alternative formats that although difficult to recreate, can be wildly successful when done right.

Lindsay M. Chervinsky is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis in January 2017 and is currently working on her manuscript titled “The President’s Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution.”

SHEAR 2017: HSP Hours & Free Admission

As in the past, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania will open early (10am) on the Thursday of SHEAR, July 20.  On both Thursday and Friday, library admission will be free to registered conference attendees; please show a conference badge or registration confirmation along with a photo ID when you sign in. (General admission is always free for students with ID, and $8.00 for others.)

If you haven’t been to HSP within the last five years, you’ll need to fill out a new registration form; you can download and print the form here to fill out ahead of time if you wish.

HSP has scheduled extra staff for paging but wait times may be longer than usual due to a high volume of researchers.

General Information:

  • Research hours on Thursday and Friday will be 10am to 5:30 pm, with last admission and last call slips accepted at 4:45.
  • You may bring in anything that opens on three sides like a book: laptops, loose papers, notebooks, legal pads, index cards, phones, tablets, etc.
  • No pens, highlighters, food, or drink in the library.
  • Anything that closes like a backpack, briefcase, or purse may not enter the library (except in cases of medical need); HSP has approximately 80 lockers in the lobby, but if you have a room at the Doubletree it would be best to leave bags there if you can.
  • Microfilm machines accept flash drives for saving images from film.
  • Photography without the use of a flash is permitted for non-commercial use.
  • Photocopies are $0.50/page, and may not be available on the same day depending on the volume of researchers.
  • HSP has a café area available for researchers with a fridge, microwave, water cooler, and a Keurig coffee maker (pods available at the front desk for $1.00)

#SHEAR17 Social Media Recommendations

For attendees who use Twitter during the annual meeting this week, we recommend using the official conference hashtag #SHEAR17 to make conversations easy to follow.

In addition, if you tweet about an individual session, we recommend adding a second hashtag in the form #PN[number]. Tweets about, e.g., Panel 53, “The Public Language of Class in America,” should end in the hashtags #SHEAR17 #PN53. Using both tags will make it easier for other users to follow and engage in the conversation.

Please also remember to respect panelists’ wishes regarding social media broadcasting. If they or the session chair ask that a presentation not be shared on social media, please respect their request.

SHEAR 2017: Less Than One Week Away!

Dear SHEARites, it’s less than a week until our 39th annual meeting opens in Philadelphia and I have a few updates and reminders to share with you.

  • Pre-registration is now closed. You may register on-site but please remember that we can accept only cash or checks, no credit cards.
    • Thursday registration from 5:00 to 7:30 pm at Golkin 100, Michael A. Fitts Auditorium, UPenn Law School, 3501 Sansom St.
    • Friday, Saturday, Sunday registration at the DoubleTree
  • For Saturday’s Presidential Address and Awards Reception:
    • Free shuttle vans will make a continuous loop between the DoubleTree and the Independence Seaport Museum, 211 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard, from 5:00 until 8:00 p.m. Return trolleys will begin shuttling back to the hotel between 9:00 pm until 10 pm.
    • If you prefer to make your own way:
      • Subway: Take the Market Street Line east to 2nd Get off and walk south two blocks to Walnut Street, turn left, and walk across the Walnut Street bridge.  The Independence Seaport Museum is the building on the right once you have crossed the bridge.
      • Bus: Walk to Chestnut Street and take either the 21 or 42 bus east.  Get off at 2nd Street, walk south one block to Walnut Street, turn left, and walk across the Walnut Street bridge.  The Independence Seaport Museum is the building on the right once you have crossed the bridge.
      • Walking from the Doubletree: Walk one block north to Walnut and turn right.  Follow Walnut for fourteen blocks; once you have crossed the Walnut Street bridge, the Independence Seaport Museum is the building on the right.
    • A reminder that HSP is offering free admission to conference-goers next week and the Museum of the American Revolution is offering discounted tickets to registered conference-goers from 19 to 23 July.

I send you traveling mercies and look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia next week. If you need anything before then, please e:mail me at robyn.davis@millersville.edu.

Warmest regards,

Robyn Lily Davis

SHEAR National Conference Coordinator

SHEAR 2017: Conference Pre-Registration Ends This Friday

If you are planning to attend SHEAR’s annual meeting in Philadelphia later this month, remember that pre-registration closes this Friday, July 7. Please also note that on-site registration is possible, but you must pay with cash or check (no credit cards), and there is an additional $30 fee as well.

SHEAR 2017: Pre-Registration and Conference Program

Pre-registration is now open for this year’s SHEAR conference in Philadelphia. The conference program is also available.

SHEAR 2017: Pre-Registration, Hotel, and Travel Information

Hello SHEARites! The 2017 annual meeting of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic is only three months away, and plans are well underway. On 1 May, an online version of the program will be available at shear.org; printed programs will be available to conference attendees upon check-in.

For those of you eager to begin making travel arrangements, here is some helpful information:

Hotel
A block of rooms has been reserved at the DoubleTree Hotel, 237 South Broad Street, located in the heart of the Theater District on the Avenue of the Arts. Rates are $159/single or double, $169/triple, and $179/quadruple, and are valid for up to three days before and three days after the SHEAR conference, based on availability.

The hotel’s amenities include 18-hour room service, complimentary fitness center, walking track, rooftop atrium pool and sun deck. All conference attendees are responsible for making their own room reservations directly with the DoubleTree Hotel by calling (800) 222-8733 (TREE); please be sure to request the group rate for SHEAR. The deadline for making reservations at the reduced rate is 14 June 2017.

Travel
By Air: Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is the closest airport to the conference, served by domestic and international airlines with non-stop flights from more than 130 locations. Center City is 7 miles from PHL and can be reached by taxi, public transit, and shuttles and shared rides.
• Taxi – trips between the airport and downtown cost a flat fee of $28.50 (before tip) each way.
• Public transit – SEPTA trains run every 30 minutes from 4:20 am to 11:40 pm (to airport) and 5:07 am to 12:30 am (from airport). The closest station to the conference hotel is Suburban Station at 17thand JRK Boulevard (5 blocks north and 2 blocks west of the hotel, an easy 10-minute walk). One-way, on-board, cash only fare is $8.00.
• Shuttle – authorized transportation providers for Center City can be found here.

By Train: Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station can be reached by local, regional, and national rail services. The conference hotel is a short taxi ride from the station, or about a 25-minute walk. The taxi stand is outside the station’s east exit (facing downtown). If walking, take the east exit, turn right, go three blocks south to Walnut Street, then turn left and proceed east down Walnut. Cross Broad Street and then turn right and walk one block to Locust Street. The hotel is located at the intersection of Broad and Locust.
For information about schedules and pricing, please contact
AMTRAK at (800) 872-7245
New Jersey Regional Transit at (800) 722-2222
SEPTA at (215) 580-7800

By Car: Philadelphia is located approximately two hours south of New York City and two hours north of Washington D.C.
• From Philadelphia International Airport: Take I-95 North to Exit 17 (PA-611 North/ Broad Street Exit). Continue North on Broad Street for approximately 3 miles. The hotel is located on the right side, one block past Spruce Street at the corner of Broad and Locust Streets.
• From Baltimore, Washington and points South: Take I-95 North past the Philadelphia Intl. Airport to Exit 17 (PA-611 North/ Broad Street Exit). Take Broad Street North and follow Broad Street for about 3 miles. The hotel is on the corner of Broad and Locust Streets.
• From New York, New Jersey and points Northeast: Take NJ Turnpike South to exit 4 (Philadelphia/Camden Exit). Take 73 North to 38 West. Follow signs to The Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Once over the bridge follow signs for 676 West. Take 676 West to the Broad Street / Central Philadelphia Exit onto 15th Street heading South. Take 15th Street (approx 7 blocks) and make a left turn onto Locust Street. Take Locust one block to Broad Street. The hotel is located directly in front of you at the corner of Broad and Locust Streets.
• Harrisburg, Hershey and points West: Take Pennsylvania Turnpike East to exit 24 (Valley Forge). Get onto 76 E following signs to Central Philadelphia. Take Vine St. (I-676) to Broad St. exit and make a right onto 15th St. Follow 15th St. to Locust, then turn left onto Locust. Go 1 block to Broad St. and the hotel is on the corner.

Parking: Self-parking in a covered lot with in and out privileges is available at the DoubleTree for $28.00 per night.

By Intercity Bus: The Philadelphia Greyhound Bus Terminal at 1001 Filbert Street, (215) 931-4075 is served by Greyhound and Peter Pan Bus Lines. Megabus serves Philadelphia 30th Street Station from a variety of cities along the eastern corridor.

Registration
Information about the conference is available under “Annual Meeting” on the SHEAR website. Preregistration opens 1 May and is $75 for members and $110 for nonmembers; graduate students, public history professionals, independent scholars, and graduate students pay $50 (exclusive of online transaction fee). All preregistration must be completed online by 5 July 2017. You do not need to be a member of SHEAR to present at the conference, but everyone on the program must register.

If you do not preregister, you may register on-site at the conference. The on-site price will include a $30 on-site registration fee and must be paid in cash or a check made out to SHEAR.

On-site conference check-in will be open from 5:00 to 7:30 pm on Thursday, July 20, at the McNeil Center on the UPenn Campus. It will continue on Friday, July 21 and Saturday, July 22, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Sunday, July 23, from 8:00 am to 10:30 am at the DoubleTree.

If you have questions about registration or the conference itself, please feel free to contact me by email (robyn.davis@millersville.edu) or mobile phone at 405/409-5909.

I look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia, and I send you traveling mercies.

Robyn Lily Davis, conference coordinator

CFA: SHEAR 2017 Graduate Research Seminars

SHEAR is pleased to open registration for the 3rd annual graduate student research luncheon seminars.  Reserve your spot for a free catered luncheon facilitated by two senior scholars in the field on Friday, July 21, 2017.

These seminars permit grad students and senior faculty to discuss common themes, important areas of research, and the challenges faced by scholars in the field.  Conversations in each group may turn alternately to subjects like archives, methodologies, and important secondary literature in their area. Best of all, these seminars help participants to network amongst like-minded scholars, and to find potential partners for organizing panels for future conferences.

Eligibility:

  • The program and lunch are free, but you must be registered for the conference.
  • You need to be currently enrolled in a graduate program or have received an AY 2016-2017 degree.
  • If necessary, preference will be given to those who did not participate in last year’s graduate seminars and who do not already appear on the conference program.

Sessions:

  • Native Americans and Borderlands led by Alan Gallay (Texas Christian University) and Denise Bossy (University of North Florida)
  • Politics and Diplomacy led by John Belohlavek (University of South Florida) and Gene Allen Smith (Texas Christian University)
  • Race and Slavery led by Graham Russell Gao Hodges (Colgate University) and Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor (Smith College)
  • Science, Disasters, and Popular Culture led by Susan Branson (Syracuse University) and Cynthia Kierner (George Mason University)

Each seminar is limited to 12 students. We aim to assign participants to their first choice; but if that session fills early, we will accommodate participants in other sessions. To apply, please email a dissertation abstract (250 words max) to egertodr@lemoyne.edu or foughtlk@lemoyne.edu by May 15th.  Include your graduate program (advisor, department, university), expected completion date, and your first and second seminar choice.

CFA: Inaugural SHEAR Second-Book Writers’ Workshop (Extended Deadline)

SHEAR is pleased to announce the creation of the SHEAR Second-Book Writers’ Workshop and to invite applications for its inaugural session at the annual meeting 20 – 23 July 2017 in Philadelphia.

The journey from first to second book can be a difficult one. From choosing a topic for a second book to finding the time and support to research and write, the structure that guides the writing of the dissertation and first book disappears. Many of us struggle with this transition. We wonder if it makes sense to continue a research trajectory clearly laid out in our first project or to try something entirely new. We search for research support at the same time as teaching and service obligations increase. For some scholars, these difficulties are compounded by the obligations of family and child rearing that can make residential fellowships or long-term travel seem impossible. Yet the second book is an essential step in career advancement: a requirement for the promotion to full professorships or even at some institutions, for tenure. Recognizing the unique challenges of this stage, SHEAR has launched a new program designed to support its members at this transitional point in their scholarly careers.

The SHEAR Second-Book Writers’ Workshop will replicate some of the structures of feedback that dissertation writers experience. The goals of the workshop include both practical advice and the motivation that comes from writing for and with your peers. To accommodate the many stages of second book production, the workshop will encourage flexibility in pre-circulated materials. Organized into genre-based groups, the workshop will provide a space for discussion of drafts of book proposals, fellowship applications, chapter drafts, and other documents related to the writing of a second book. A mentor who has successfully published a second book will lead each workshop group.

In 2017, workshops will take place in the afternoon of Thursday, July 20 prior to the plenary session. Committed mentors include: Johann Neem, Matthew Mason, and Amy Greenberg.

To apply to participate, writers of second books should submit via e-mail to Emily Conroy-Krutz (conroyk5@msu.edu) or Jessica Lepler (jessica.lepler@unh.edu) a single .pdf or Word file that contains a one-page CV and a one-page document comprising a description both of your second book project and of the document that you would like to circulate for the workshop. Applications to participate in the workshop should be submitted no later than March 15, 2017, and applicants can expect to hear back by mid-April.

Accepted participants’ materials for pre-circulation will be due June 15.

Call for Applications: Inaugural SHEAR Second-Book Writers’ Workshop

SHEAR is pleased to announce the creation of the SHEAR Second-Book Writers’ Workshop and to invite applications for its inaugural session at the annual meeting 20 – 23 July 2017 in Philadelphia.

The journey from first to second book can be a difficult one. From choosing a topic for a second book to finding the time and support to research and write, the structure that guides the writing of the dissertation and first book disappears. Many of us struggle with this transition. We wonder if it makes sense to continue a research trajectory clearly laid out in our first project or to try something entirely new. We search for research support at the same time as teaching and service obligations increase. For some scholars, these difficulties are compounded by the obligations of family and child rearing that can make residential fellowships or long-term travel seem impossible. Yet the second book is an essential step in career advancement: a requirement for the promotion to full professorships or even at some institutions, for tenure. Recognizing the unique challenges of this stage, SHEAR has launched a new program designed to support its members at this transitional point in their scholarly careers.

The SHEAR Second-Book Writers’ Workshop will replicate some of the structures of feedback that dissertation writers experience. The goals of the workshop include both practical advice and the motivation that comes from writing for and with your peers. To accommodate the many stages of second book production, the workshop will encourage flexibility in pre-circulated materials. Organized into genre-based groups, the workshop will provide a space for discussion of drafts of book proposals, fellowship applications, chapter drafts, and other documents related to the writing of a second book. A mentor who has successfully published a second book will lead each workshop group.

In 2017, workshops will take place in the afternoon of Thursday, July 20 prior to the plenary session. Committed mentors include: Johann Neem, Matthew Mason, and Amy Greenberg.

To apply to participate, writers of second books should submit via e-mail to Emily Conroy-Krutz (conroyk5@msu.edu) or Jessica Lepler (jessica.lepler@unh.edu) a single .pdf or Word file that contains a one-page CV and a one-page document comprising a description both of your second book project and of the document that you would like to circulate for the workshop. Applications to participate in the workshop should be submitted no later than March 1, 2017, and applicants can expect to hear back by early April.

Accepted participants’ materials for pre-circulation will be due June 15.