U.S. Intellectual History Blog

The Second Annual USIH Conference: Initial Thoughts, More Thank Yous, And Future Plans

As you probably surmised from Lauren’s post below, the 2009 conference is over. It was a whirlwind two days. As such, I’m a bit tired. But despite my partiality, and the fact that I’m still processing everything, I will go ahead and fancy the conference a success.

The proof will be in the pudding, as they say. If the networking and connections made by attendees results in the advancement of the study of U.S. intellectual history—evidenced in articles, books, and an increased public awareness of the importance of the subfield—then it was time and money well spent. Otherwise it will be remembered as something less: mere navel gazing, or an event that only advanced the interests of historians (e.g. job hunting, academic politics). It is my sincerest hope that the former, the subject matter, benefits. After witnessing the enthusiasm and energy of the participants, as well as the quality of papers presented and comments offered, I truly believe it will.

I intend on putting up a series of reflections based on my notes from the events I attended. But my posts will be partial in two ways. First, well, because they’re only my thoughts. But second, and more importantly, since each of the 4 time slots hosted 5-6 panels, I saw only a small slice of the conference. I will rely on my colleagues, both here and in our readership, to fill in the blanks with other posts and in the comments (or even with a guest posts?). Here’s what I witnessed in terms of content: Jim Livingston’s provocative plenary, Panel 4 (“Abstracting Technology and Science”), Panel 12 (my own), Panel 16 (“Culture and History”), Panel 23 (“Forgetting Social Science”), and the closing session, “Assessing the Legacy of the 1977 Wingspread Conference.”

But before we get too deep in posts on conference reflections, I want to thank everyone once again for their moral and material support: CUNY’s Graduate Center, William P. Kelly, the Center for the Humanities, David Nasaw, Michael Washburn, several unnamed CfH student interns, Aoibbhean Sweeney, Matthew Cotter, Martin Burke, Helena Rosenblatt, all of our panel participants, and the whole USIH team—Andrew Hartman, Mike O’Connor, Ben Alpers, Lauren Kientz, David Sehat, Paul Anderson, Ray Haberski, Julian Nemeth, Sylwester Ratowt, and last but not least, Paul Murphy.

The Planning Team for next year consists of Paul Murphy, Andrew Hartman, Matthew Cotter, and volunteers. I expect that they will begin rounding up suggestions and help for next year’s event in the near future. As of today we have a handshake agreement with the Center for the Humanities to host the program again.

Once I’ve rested up and have absorbed the many lessons from this year’s event, I’m sure I’ll energetically begin looking forward to our next gathering. – TL