CS Lewis said “The person who agrees with us that some question, little regarded by others, is of great importance can be our Friend. He need not agree with us about the answer.” That is true of events like this, even if some historians still refuse to break bread together because they interpret British Imperialism in opposite ways. It is easy to scoff at the well worn faults of professional conferences. All the standard tropes still apply: vanity, competition, antiquarian topics, libations and libidos. However I am struck by the singular fortune of being here. Almost every table is filled with scholars discussing their passion over a drink: Ancient China, Rome, Greece, Russia, the Atlantic, slavery, religion, revolution, industrialization, racism, labor history, world wars, …. the list goes on. All across San Diego diners are filled (okay- not quite filled, the AHA reports attendance is way down…. lets go with “patroned”) with people who love the Enlightenment in the Atlantic more than anything in the world talking with other people passionate about just that thing (insert your passion here). Everywhere you go, people are just enthralled in their conversations. That, I think, is a good thing.
Tonight’s political blurb: a well attended rally occurred outside the Hyatt complete with several megaphones, and about a hundred signs. I’d estimate a few hundred protesters. They marched around the entire hotel chanting at AHA attendees to “check out now! check out now!” Since I’ve already made a comment on this yesterday, I thought I would pass this tidbit along without further comment.
I forgot to include these notes on the grant writing workshop held yesterday. Here are the highlights.
- You have 10 minutes to sell your reader
- Get the whole thing summarized in 10 sentences or less
- Write 10 versions of your draft
- Make sure the font size is LARGER than 10- be kind to the reader’s eyes
If you are a religious history buff you missed a good one today. The panel examined the Enlightenment in the Atlantic World, but really all the panelists focused their remarks on the concept of religious liberty in the eighteenth century. The various definitions given to the word liberty–some to support Whig views and some to undercut–were very informative. The panelists discussed the religious connotations of liberty stemming from Anglicanism, Catholicism, Presbyterianism, the French Huguenots, Baptists, and Genevan Calvinists. Surprising no one, the most thoughtful paper came from Notre Dame professor Mark A. Noll. He examined several views, including those of Canadian Catholics, to explain why the Quebecois (among others) rebuffed American calls to join them in the cause of religious liberty. Canadian Catholics, for instance, believed the British government, through the Quebec Act, had secured their religious liberty to practice their faith unmolested. I am not doing the paper justice, but it was wonderfully done.
Don’t say “I probably don’t need this microphone.” Yes you do. Stop imagining yourself as George Whitefield preaching to a field of unconverted sinners. (For information on the ability of Whitefield’s ability to project his voice- see The Divine Dramatist by Harry Stout). You are an academic not a revival preacher. Use the mic.