My Impressions of the Canadian Historical Association Conference, 2009

30 05 2009

1)    First, I was pleased to see that there were some military history papers on the programme, including one by Tim Cook of the Canadian War Museum. I’m far from being a military  historian, but for many years I’ve been disturbed by the growing distance between Canadian military historians and the rest of the historical profession. The military historians have their own conferences and journals and have become ghettoized. This is good for neither the military historians nor the historical profession at large.
2)    I was also pleased to see that the Political History Group attracted a great deal of interest. Matt Hayday will be the first chair of this group, which is for CHA members who work on political history.
3)    Blake Brown gave an excellent paper on the history of gun control.
4)    I attended the roundtable on the Liberal Order framework. I spoke up to express my frustration with the lack of clear working definition of the word “liberal”. I WILL HAVE MORE COMMENTS ON THIS ROUNDTABLE SOON.
5)    Several younger scholars recorded their presentations on video. They used a Flip video camera , which records in a YouTube compatible MP4 format. This augurs well for the future, for Canadian historians really need to embrace the Web 2.0. Ideally, the CHA should record all presentations and place them online.
6)    I was pleased by the number of graduate students working on 19th century topics. In the last few decades, the focus of historians of Canada (who publish in English, at least) has shifted to the 20th century, especially the post-1945 past, and the earlier periods of Canadian history have been the subject of gross neglect. The number of emerging scholars interested in the pre-1900 and pre-Confederation periods is very, very encouraging to me.

Christopher Moore

30 05 2009

Toronto-based historian Christopher Moore has posted comments on his blog about my blog. They are quite positive.

I will publish my impressions of this year’s CHA shortly.

Canadian Historical Association 2009 Conference

26 05 2009

I’m about to begin the second day of the annual meeting of the Canadian Historical Association. A few quick observations about the conference. First, the social life of the conference would have been better had it been held at University of Ottawa instead of Carleton. University of Ottawa is located in Ottawa’s CBD, which is where most of the delegates head after 5pm. Carleton, in contrast, is a bleak and rather inaccessible suburban campus.

Second, I’m pleased to see a large number of the grad students at the conference are interested in 19th century topics. This is a big change from previous years and a hopeful sign. For too long, the Canadian historical profession was dominated by specialists of the post-war period.

Third, the political history group (see my earlier post) was formed yesterday.

Canadian Political History – Making a Comeback?

18 05 2009

Matt Hayday, a historian at the University of Guelph, has spearheaded the formation of a new organization to represent Canadian political historians. The first meeting of the Canadian Political History Group will take place at the Canadian Historical Association Annual Meeting at Carleton University on Monday May 25th from 12:00-1:00 in Mackenzie (ME) 4494. The group is intended for anyone with an interest  in the many aspects of Canadian political history. The first meeting will involve the approval of a constitution, election of officers, etc.

Dr Hayday explained the rationale of the group as follows: “First, I believe that there are more people working on political history topics than many of us realize, and I would like to try to foster more of a sense of a research community for us to exchange ideas and keep each other apprised of what we are working on.  Second, I would like there to be more of a political history presence within the Canadian Historical Association.  One of the first objectives that I had in mind for such a group would be to organize political history panels for the CHA Annual conference.  Third, I believe that there is a “new” political history emerging, one which takes into account many of the new ideas and methods that have been developed in other branches of history.  I think it would be productive to have a more active discussion about where Canadian political history is heading – and to demonstrate that it still has some vitality!”

I plan to become a member of the new group. I’m looking forward to its first meeting, which will take place a week from today.