Saturday Highlights at OAH 2017

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Saturday morning began with a special In Memoriam session for past OAH President (2004–2005) and Benjamin Banneker Professor Emeritus of American Studies and History at George Washington University, James Oliver Horton. Jointly sponsored by the Department of American Studies, George Washington University, and George Washington University, Department of History, the informal setting provided Jim’s friends and colleagues a chance to honor him with their own testimony and to speak of his life and his many contributions to the study and teaching of U.S. history.

Saturday at the OAH was The Hub, where prospective authors meet one-on-one with publishers to discuss their works in progress. This year publishers who participated included Brill, Duke University Press, McFarland Publishing, SUNY Press, Temple University Press, University of Missouri Press, and University of Washington Press.  

“The Hub has been a great program for Duke University Press since we have been actively looking to build a stronger and broader list in U.S. history. We are particularly interested in projects that take an intersectional lens and look at social movements or marginalized perspectives. The meetings with authors through The Hub have allowed us to make our areas of interest more visible and have also enabled us to learn about the range of projects that are emerging within the discipline of American History. We’re excited to participate again this year!” –Editor Gisela Fosado, Duke University Press

A late addition to the program, “Historians Respond to the Advent of Trump,” took place during the 11:00 am session slot and drew over 150 attendees. The session was chaired by Robert Self, Brown University. Panelists included Benjamin L. Alpers, University of Oklahoma (Authoritarianism in America), Ibram X. Kendi, University of Florida (Race and Racism), Joanne Meyerowitz, Yale University (LGBTQ Rights), Maria Cristina Garcia, Cornell University (Immigration and Refugees), and Jennifer Nelson, University of Redlands (Reproductive Rights). The session was added to the program in response to the belief that the rise of Donald J. Trump to the U.S. presidency demands the attention of historians, regardless of partisan affiliation or conviction. Trump’s ascendancy has amplified, and potentially normalized, a civic discourse grounded in racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia, and derived from political scripts with long histories. His presidency seems destined to alter public policy dramatically on a range of issues, including immigration and refugees, policing and incarceration, reproductive rights, health care, climate change, corporate regulation, public funding of scientific research, arts, and the humanities, and much more. Since Donald J. Trump is the second president in sixteen years to be elected while losing the popular vote, the November 2016 result raises additional historical questions about the mechanics and democratic character of U.S. elections. While no single session can capture the full range of historical issues and entanglements raised by Trump’s rise, the historians featured in this panel will frame a number of key questions for broader discussion and reflection.

At the afternoon’s business meeting, OAH Executive Director Kathy Finley, announced that this year’s Annual Meeting attendance was 1,722.

The award ceremony began with the presentation of the new John D’Emilio LGBTQ History Dissertation Award for the best Ph.D. dissertation in U.S. LGBTQ history to Ian Michael Baldwin, University of Redlands, for his dissertation “Family, Housing, and the Political Geography of Gay Liberation in Los Angeles County, 1960–1986” (University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Adviser: Professor Marcia Gallo).

The Roy Rosenzweig Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to an individual or individuals whose contributions have significantly enriched our understanding and appreciation of American history. The 2017 recipient is Linda Gordon, New York University. The prize committee noted that “Professor Linda Gordon’s example offers a forceful reminder of the meaning, range, and value of the work of our profession.”

Kudos to all award winners, listed here.

Outgoing OAH president Nancy F. Cott offered her Presidential Address,”Making—and Circulating—the News in an Illiberal Age,” as the final plenary of this year’s meeting. Cott is the  Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History at Harvard University.

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