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  • Afterword: For Further Discussion
    Conference on Social History
    October 22–24,2004

The articles in this special issue paint no single picture of the current status and future prospects of social history. They vary quite fundamentally between optimism and pessimism, though all suggest complexity. Further, as one Journal of Social History editor has noted, it would be folly to pretend to sketch a future for the field with any precision, for it ought to be unpredictable.

Nevertheless, there is opportunity for additional discussion, focused less on past concerns than on prospects and on possibilities for re-envisioning the field (and with it, core outlets such as the Journal of Social History). To this end, and building on the kinds of discussions in this issue, the Journal is organizing a Conference on Social History, to be held at George Mason University, October 22—24, 2004. We currently plan five panels, around central issues that derive (the editors believe) from the presentations in this volume.

  • → Social history and politics/the state (a perennial, but perhaps now open to some new formulations and wider regional examples)

  • → Social history and place (the clearest new challenge and opportunity, for work on transnational forces and comparative concerns)

  • → Refining and reintroducing social structure (with invitations to discuss new relationships with cultural work)

  • → Reaching wider audiences (including social history in the classroom)

  • → What’s next (an unabashed catchall, with a premium on imaginative formulations and new or revived orientations)

We assume that, in all categories, presenters will pay appropriate attention to issues of periodization and causation, to issues of interdisciplinarity, and to modes of presentation including the narrative. Presentations will be considered also for publication in future issues of the Journal of Social History, probably in the thematic clusters. The conference itself will focus on discussion of materials circulated in advance, to facilitate collaboration.

At this point, the editors invite further suggestion, proposals for presentation, and other indications of interest. Specific proposals should be sent to the Journal no later than Jan. 15, 2004, with prospectus and brief vita. We’d need to know about plans for attendance no later than June 1, 2004. Younger social historians are urged to consider participation, and we’ll seek appropriate temporal and geographic distribution as well. Address all correspondance to Journal of Social History, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA 22030.


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