The AHA’s annual conference was held in Atlanta this year: my first time both to attend the conference and visit the city. I’d thought that attending Kalamazoo had inured me to large conferences, but even the IMC has nothing on the scale of the AHA—about 5000 attendees spread out across three huge hotels. (The header image for this post is of the main lobby in one of the hotels; surely never before have so many historians been moved to quote The Hunger Games at one time.) It was a little overwhelming at times, but I really enjoyed getting to meet historians from so many different fields—where else could you have a spirited conversation about comparative transnational gender history over breakfast?
For me, however, the highlight of the conference was the four-hour-long workshop I attended on Friday afternoon, on assignments for undergraduate introductory history courses. (This is part of the AHA’s Tuning Project on undergraduate history teaching.) Participants submitted in advance an assignment which they used in the classroom, and then during the workshop met in small groups to discuss ways to improve the assignment or its implementation within the context of the course as a whole. It was a session at once useful and generous, and I came away with lots of ideas percolating about new ways to reinforce connections between assignments across the course of the semester, and how to start a similar kind of workshop back in Iowa.
Some of the assignments produced by the Tuning Project’s initiatives can now be found on the DQP Assignment Library, which is a database of collegiate-level course assignments that are designed to promote specific student competencies. I haven’t yet had a chance to dive into the Assignment Library in depth, but it looks like it will be a great resource. I believe that some of the assignments discussed at the workshop will also end up there eventually.
Over on Storify, I’ve also brought together collections of tweets from two sessions I attended on medieval history: Crusade and Empire: Holy War and Imperial Ideologies in Medieval Europe and Women, Holiness, and Faith in Medieval Europe. Medievalists might be comparatively few in number at the AHA, but there were still some great medieval-centred panels on the programme.