Friday, 4 January 2013

Day 2 at AHA

 On day two of the AHA/ASCH conferences, I attended two sessions. The first was entitled "Funding Your Research," from 10:30am to 12:00pm. The session was chaired by Laura Isabel Serna of the University of Southern California, and included two other panelists, Deborah Harkness of the University of Southern California, and Raul Ramos of the University of Houston.

Deborah Harkness and Laura Isabel Serna offered the following advice to graduate students and junior faculty:
  • Start by applying for small grants
  • Once earning one-month grants at specific archives, then try for three-month grants before attempting to apply for long-term NEH-sponsored fellowships
  • Diversify your applications
Raul  Ramos followed up with some additional helpful hints:
  • Mine "acknowledgement" sections in books for potential grants
  • Make sure you read and follow the application requirements carefully
  • When possible, review successful applications, noting the style and content
  • Ask your colleagues to look over your application
  • Attend your university's grant-writing seminars
While much of this advice may fall under the category of common sense, this panel reminded me of how important it is do as many things right as possible when applying for competitive grants.

The second session I attended was entitled "The Private Lives and Social Worlds of Eighteenth-Century Religious Women," from 2:30pm to 4:30pm. Bruce Hindmarsh of Regent College chaired the session and panelists included Phyllis Mack of Rutgers, Joanna Cruickshank of Deakin University, and Cindy Aalders, a PhD student at Lincoln College, Oxford.

This was an excellent session that drew from the expertise of many Methodist scholars in the room, including Dick Heitzenrater. I felt humbled as I reflected on my own knowledge of Methodism when compared to these distinguished scholars. Interestingly, all three panelists seemed to confirm that diary writing, from the perspective of many eighteenth-century women, was not a private affair. Rather, diaries were intended to be passed along to others within certain circles, and sometimes meant to be published. While it is known that John Wesley and George Whitefield intended that their diaries should be published, it has been assumed by many historians that women penned their thoughts in solitary confinement, intending to use their personal narratives for individualistic spiritual growth.

Now it's time to reflect on these sessions over more great New Orleans food!

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