SMH 2013 deadline

Just a reminder that the deadline for submitting panels and papers for the SMH 2013 in New Orleans is October 1. The conference theme is “War, Society and Remembrance,” but any topics will be considered.

The conference call for papers goes out of its way to tie the 2013 theme of remembrance to timely anniversaries. To quote from the call: “The year 2013 marks the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Society for Military History, as well as the continuing anniversaries of the Second World War (70th), the American Civil War (150th), and the War of 1812 (200th). …. We particularly encourage papers that reflect on these historic anniversaries.” I won’t claim to know what exactly a “continuing anniversary” is – it’s probably similar to a “long” century, or maybe it just means “circa.” In any case, did the organizing committee really feel the need to remind people to submit panels on the oft-ignored topics of the Civil War and WW2? I realize the National WW2 Museum is one of the sponsors, but seriously.

I will say that I’m a little disappointed, though not too surprised, to notice that a call for papers for a military history conference taking place in 2013 doesn’t mention the only real anniversary of a major war that was actually concluded in a year ending in ’13.’ The truly forgotten war in this story, of course, is the early modern War of the Spanish Succession, whose Treaty of Utrecht (signed 1713) terminated the conflict between Bourbon France/Spain and four of the main Allied protagonists (Britain, the Netherlands, Savoy and Portugal). A year later the Empire and the Austrian crown would make peace with France at Rastatt and Baden; peace between Spain and the Empire/Austria would have to wait a bit longer.

So, there’s no mention of the 300th anniversary of the end of the Spanish Succession – a pretty big war as far as British history goes (and featuring one of Britain’s greatest commanders), as well as Louis XIV’s worst defeat, and a conflict which included Queen Anne’s War in America to boot. Yet we are reminded to commemorate a historic 70th “continuing anniversary” of a war that started in 1939 (depending on who you ask) and ended in 1945? Why don’t we just commemorate the Second World War seven years out of every decade and be done with it? Oh yeah, I forgot: we continuously celebrate WW2 tens years in every decade as it is.

But the invisibility of the early modern doesn’t end with the Spanish Succession. We could, for example, note other anniversaries, anniversaries that commemorate the actual ending of wars. These would include the 365th anniversary of the Peace of Westphalia (Thirty Years War), the 335th anniversary of the Treaty of Nijmegen (Louis’ Dutch War), the aforementioned 300th of Utrecht, the 265th anniversary of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (War of the Austrian Succession), the 250th anniversary of the Treaty of Paris (Seven Years War), and the 230th of the Peace of Paris (a continuing anniversary of the War of 1812 but not even a hat tip to the American Revolution?). And what’s up with all those nice round anniversaries for 17C-18C wars anyway – Europeans saw a year ending in 3 or 8 coming up on their calendar and decided to make peace? Kinda eerie. Maybe we’ll have to have a giant EMEMH conference in 2018!

But at least there will be another conference a month later (April 2013) that will give Utrecht its due. To be fair though, even the Europeans insisted on having a conference entitled “1713-2013 The Peace of Utrecht Revisited” in June 2012 in Madrid. Go figure. Organizing conferences is a lot of work, and historians are generally horrible at organizing things, so I guess we should cut them some slack. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to remind your members that we’ve had more than 200 years of war; I’d even suggest that the last thing an SMH call for papers needs to do is encourage people to submit even more panels on the Civil War and WW2 – it’s an incredibly present-minded group as it is.

So after making fun of the call for papers, I’ve probably destroyed any hope of my panel on “Remembering the War of the Spanish Succession” being accepted, particularly since those three modern wars are apparently the topics that they are particularly looking for. But there probably won’t be much competition from the War of 1812, the American Civil War, and World War II, so we’ve still got a shot! I hope other early modernists are submitting panels or individual papers as well. If our Spanish Succession panel is accepted, I’ll provide more details on the papers. In the meantime, never fear: all our papers are comfortably ensconced within the 18C. Let us know if you have papers/panels accepted as well. And let’s hope they don’t schedule those few early modern panels against each other (again).

Just as importantly, I’m hoping that any EMEMHians attending the conference would like to schedule one evening/dinner to get together and discuss things of an early modern nature. Don’t worry, there will be more than enough opportunities to get your WW2 geek on during the rest of the conference. Other than the banquet dinners, most evening dining at the conference is rather extemporaneous and catch-as-catch-can, so it might be a good idea to schedule this ahead of time to avoid too many conflicts.

If you are planning on attending the conference, let us know in the comments. Also let us know if you are interested in doing an EMEMH dinner while in N’awlins. I’m also available via my school email address.

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6 responses to “SMH 2013 deadline”

  1. Giulio Ongaro says :

    I’m an italian PhD student and I also noticed this problem of the XXI century-military history. Unfortunately this is not limited to the SMH. During the first year of my PhD I’ve tried to find call for papers, conferences or other opportunities to meet with researchers of Early modern-military history, but with no result.
    The dominance of the XX century is very strong also in the Old Continent: just look at the websites of the english, or italian, society for military history.
    This also reflect a shortage of scholars interested in the military history of the Early modern. There are some exceptions in England, with individual scholars scattered in different Universities (David Parrott at the Oxford New College, Jeremy Black at Exeter, etc.), but in other European countries the situation is quite different. I would not dare considerations but I think that in Italy there are 4-5 young researcher involved in militay history of the Early modern, and the older scholars are the same number.
    As I said, these figures are quite hypothetical, because of the lack of an organized structure that allows the meeting between scholars. I hope that initiatives such as this blog can reach the goal of creating a network of scholars, not only in the United States but also in Europe. I fear, however, that if these initiatives will remain individual and not be able to get public and academic recognition, things will not change.

    • jostwald says :

      Thanks for your comment – I’m not surprised European academics also toil under the heavy shadow of 1914-1945. Of course the result is an artificially narrow appreciation of the variety of warfare, even in the modern era.

      One way to create a sense of community is to set up a list of those interested in the topic. I’ll create a directory and people can send me their contact info and interests. The Williamite Universe has a version of this for historians (military and non-) interested in the period of the 1660s-1720s. EMEMHians will always (and should always) straddle the two fields of their period-place combination (e.g. Louis XIV’s France) as well as EME military history.

      Another way to foster community is to have more discussion online. You are quite right that there need to be outlets for traditional publication and presentation that are recognized for hiring, promotion and tenure. And those outlets do exist, though in small numbers (journal wise at least). However, I do think over time more and more online work will be recognized in some capacity, and in the meantime, having an active network will make it easier to develop a more coherent EMEMH historiography, coordinate future publications/presentations, even receive useful feedback on ideas in progress. But, as Grenier pointed out earlier, that last possibility requires historians willing to post early versions of their research online. I tried to get the ball rolling with a paper on cabinet war in the WSS a month or so back, but have received very little feedback thus far (thanks to those who did comment). Maybe a different strategy is needed…

      In a more ‘transformative’ vein, the Web also allows a new opportunity – to create virtual ‘conferences’ that would allow EMEMHians from all over the world to get together in a way that would be impossible in the real world. We see examples of this from time to time, from videos of academic talks posted on You Tube, to group blog ‘conversations,’ to real-time chats. I’d like to try something like a group conversation on the blog, but again, it would require more participation from academics.

      There are lots of things we could do, but you are also right that change won’t happen until academic EMEMHians decide to participate. I think that this will require a few things: that people identify themselves as being EMEMHians and not just, say, 16C Dutch scholars; and that people perceive it as being worth their time to contribute online. Given how little is required to comment on a blog (and my attempts to provide a variety of topics to discuss), I’ve alternated between pessimism and optimism – I’ve tried to make many of my posts as generic as possible (in the sense of talking about early modern intelligence in general, and not just about what Marlborough knew in early 1706) so that others could contribute their own insights. I’ll keep trying, but nothing substantive is going to happen until the above criteria are met. This hesitancy to discuss online may weaken as a new generation of historians comes to the fore, a generation more digitally connected and used to discussing things online. But that could take a long time, and the brutal job market could even kill this generation of new EMEMHians off before they even take flight. Which, in a perverse way, might actually help this blog, as previous Gavin’s comment on non-academics suggested.

      So thanks again to all those who have commented thus far – I’ve contributed a third of the 551 comments, which I think is a pretty good balance, but I’d like an even lower percentage. I once again encourage those (b)lurkers to comment as well. It doesn’t have to be erudite and polished – it’s an informal discussion.

  2. Gavin Robinson says :

    2013 will also see the 500th anniversaries of the battles of Flodden and Guinegate (aka the Battle of the Spurs). Surely a round 500 is worth remembering.

    I bet the modernists dominate again in 2014 because of the 100th anniversary of WW1, not that I’m complaining, as my activities are likely to get more WW1-centric over the next few years.

  3. jegrenier says :

    250 years from the Peace of Paris and the 7YW, as you note?! This is why I rarely attend SMH. Really, you could do a wonderful paper on the huge change in the British Empire from 1713 to 1763… Why, a nice 50-year period seeing historians can only think in decades, now. I wrote a book about the details of empire building” on an imperial marchland over the same period, but no one who mattered cared and those that did wanted to use it for their goofy PC games and to protect their turf. Dolts all around. All these little signs suggest to me that I’m better off raising chickens and working on my farm. . Speaking of, I have some hay to throw before I get to the really important stuff of eating roast goose, Cajun duck, and other heart clogging goodies while watching AU-LSU with two other historians who have given up on SMH.

  4. Erik Lund says :

    To be fair, history is pretty thinly populated in general in comparison to the scope of the investigative task. When I went looking for the historiography of the Council of Trent under my historian of science hat (because historians of science are agreed that it was a Very Big Deal), I ended up being directed to Jedin, the publisher of which couldn’t even be bothered to arrange an English translation of the last two volumes, and Paolo Sarpi.

    Maybe I missed something, but contemplate a major historical episode four hundred years past in which a contemporary counts as current historiography. Now, I’d be the last person to argue that history’s claim on the national research budget is proportional to the task instead of a reasonable rationing scheme, but I started hearing about the Council of Trent as a demonstration that some cultures can’t do science in high school, and this use of the “historiography” does strike me as a pressing issue.

  5. jostwald says :

    Turns out the new Journal of Military History is totally dedicated to the War of 1812 (200th anniversary) – nuthin’ but in the articles, and a dedicated section in the Reviews section as well. Still odd that they wouldn’t mention it in their conference call for papers, but what do I know.
    Is a 2013 issue dedicated to Utrecht and the Spanish Succession next?

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