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Thursday, November 10, 2011

November 10, 2011: Moments That Remain 4

[The 2011 New England American Studies Association conference has come and gone; but while I’ve come to the inspiring end of that more than year-long road, I can’t quite let go. So each day this week I’ll briefly highlight one powerful and affecting moment from the conference’s full and diverse and profoundly perfect two days. This is the fourth and final post in that series.]
When I tried to figure out the fourth and final (for now!) moment from this past weekend’s conference on which I wanted to focus, the list quickly grew to include way more than one such moment. Jim Loewen’s Saturday keynote address itself already included a number of great moments, particularly in the numerous ways he both modeled and argued for AmericanStudies as a public, practical, applicable, valuable national discipline and set of conversations. But wait, I haven’t even written at length about the plenary, and especially about the transitions—the way in which Joan Tavares Avant’s passionate arguments about contemporary Wampanoag issues and rights segued into Joe Conforti’s personal and scholarly reflections on “encounters with Plymouth,” and the similar transitions and shifts and connections across each of the five rich talks (which ended with Cathy Stanton’s very provocative and inspiring take on the political and social roles of historic sites, in a talk she has now posted online here). And what about all those individual papers and voices that, even though I didn’t get to hear the whole of any one (too busy running around, shockingly), added crucial moments and details and ideas to my memories of the conference conversations and themes?
More than I could possibly say, ultimately—and as with any amazing moment in time, much of it present in that moment and present for those of lucky enough to be part of it in ways that can’t exactly be recaptured in even the most powerful of prose (much less mine). So I wanted to focus here instead on two ways that I very much hope the conference’s conversations will continue, not only in person but in spaces a lot like this one (and thus spaces to which you can contribute, dear reader, wherever you are):
1)      The Blog: The pre-conference blog remains up and will I hope continue to remain active—I have already posted Cathy Stanton’s post-conference thoughts as well as a link to this blog, and have asked all of the prior posters to feel free and encouraged to add their post-conference takes into the mix there. And I hope that as NEASA’s online presence and community continues to grow, the blog will either remain a site for that growth or will at least clearly link to it.
2)      The Colloquium: In May 2012 (exact date TBA) NEASA will hold its second Spring Colloquium, this time at The House of the Seven Gables. Just as was the case with last year’s first Colloquium, part of the day will be devoted to regional AmericanStudies scholars sharing some of their work in progress or recently published works; but this time we’re adding in a set of afternoon conversations, including some on a walking tour, which will focus on issues of public and living history, museums and historic sites, and public AmericanStudies and scholarship in a variety of ways. Stay tuned for more, and join us in Salem if you can!
In other words, let’s create some more moments that will remain, both digitally and in person! More tomorrow, my second annual Veteran’s Day post,
PS. Any great scholarly experiences that you’d highlight and that we can learn from?

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