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Sunday, April 10, 2011

April 9-10, 2011 [Academic work post 10]: Big Pimping

[First, a redux of two paragraphs of my earlier “Time Sensitive” post:]
…I’m thinking about this aspect of my profession more than usual these days because of another, and even more strikingly time sensitive, side of my current work. I’m the 2011 President of the New England American Studies Association, a regional chapter of the national ASA; I’ve been on the NEASA Council for four years now and am hoping to be connected to the organization in one way or another for many more years to come, but the presidency is a one-year gig, and so it’s very literally the case that my main objectives and hopes for what I can add to NEASA’s efforts have to come to fruition—or at least, more realistically, have to be off and running in significant ways—before the clock runs out on 2011. Those objectives include a number of different focal points, from a spring colloquium at which NEASA members can share their recently published works or works still in progress to the growth of our website (link below!) into a space where interested scholars and Americans can find vibrant and ongoing conversations and resources for American Studies work. But most fully and, I admit, most ambitiously, my hopes rest with NEASA’s annual conference, which will be held the first weekend of November (11/4 and 11/5) at Plimoth Plantation here in Massachusetts.
I’ve attended the last six NEASA conferences, and they’ve been uniformly interesting and rich, full of impressive scholars (from both in and out of the academy) sharing strong ideas. I definitely don’t want to do anything to break that streak. But at the same time, I do want to make the conference more of an event, something that even folks who aren’t presenting, who aren’t affiliated with NEASA, who aren’t even necessarily American Studies scholars per se, find interesting and choose to attend. It’s a regional organization, so I’m not asking that Californians fly in en masse or anything; but I would love this to be something that somebody from a New Hampshire or Connecticut or Boston-area university just hops in the car to attend, something that a secondary educator throughout the region feels is worth asking for a release day to  take part in, something that a visitor to Plimoth over that weekend just decides to take in for an hour or two, something that, in the most ambitious version of these fantasies (I mean goals), a local reporter deems worthy of a few lines of coverage (the theme, American Mythologies: Creating, Recreating, and Resisting National Narratives, is certainly one in which all Americans have an investment). There’s only so much I or we can do to make all of that happen, of course, but within those limits, and most relevantly (to this post) within the next few months, I’m going to do what I can to put our conference on all those maps….
[Now back to the present:]
The NEASA Conference Committee met yesterday, and the program for our event is beginning to come together. We’ve got a really diverse and rich group of proposals, and should field a roster of very interesting panels across our two days. We’re also going to feature a ton of other events—a plenary panel on Plymouth/Plimoth featuring cultural and regional studies scholars, a Wampanoag tribal historian and a Wampanoag spiritual and creative artist, and an anthropologist and advisor to the Pequot Museum; a keynote address and another session by James Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me; a Friday evening performance by local Native American artists; a number of other sessions (on Plimoth, for educators, etc) that will run concurrent to the scholarly ones; and tons of other ideas still percolating to add to those as well. I think it’s going to be a great couple of days!
I’m pimping it again here, though, because that greatness will be significantly greater if we can get a lot of people, including just interested attendees, to come. I plan to publicize it hard in all sorts of ways, but if even one or two people read this and decide to come, that’ll be a great addition. My plan is to offer a very reasonable “Attendee” registration rate, to encourage that kind of participation. If you’re local, or if you’d like to travel to a very historic American site in the fall, we’d love to have you! More tomorrow, my latest nominee for the Hall!
PS. Three links to start with:
1)      The NEASA site:
2)      Plimoth Plantation, where it’ll all go down:
3)      OPEN: Any suggestions? Want to get involved with the conference, or NEASA in general? You know where to find me! (Right here, duh.)

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