Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Professional P/H

Something's up in the universe.

For the last two years or so (well, to be honest, for most of my professional life so far) I haven't had much of a presence in my field. I've published what I had to to get tenure; I've been to a few conferences but not many; and I haven't networked nearly as much as I should have. I have nothing against any of these things, but it's taken most of my time and energy just to keep my head above water in terms of fulfilling my basic teaching/service/research obligations, and I've never had delusions of grandeur in terms of gaining fame and reputation as a scholar. I'm just happy working away in my little corner, remaining in the shadows of obscurity.

However. After all this time I've spent being virtually invisible, in the last forty-eight hours, I have received: two warm and friendly e-mails from reputable (and much admired) scholars in my field, asking me questions about my research; one request from a reputable scholarly journal asking me to review a book for them; and one request from a professional organization to which I belong, asking me to be a candidate for their executive committee.

WTF? Am I suddenly broadcasting professional capability on some secret historian frequency? These are almost certainly coincidental, and none of them on their own is a particularly big deal, but their joint appearance has me wondering if I'm being sent Some Kind of Sign. (I've also had a couple of conversations recently that coincidentally touched on a new project I've been working on, and that were very inspiring.)

If that's true, I've decided to respond... there's a conference in April that I've been wanting to go to, but I didn't submit a paper to it, and I've got so many other things going on this semester that I was wary of committing to anything else. But it's an organization I love, and whose conferences I haven't attended as often as I'd like - and the two Reputable Scholars who have contacted me will be there, as well as a bunch of other people I should cozy up to (in a scholarly way, of course). So I screwed my courage to the sticking point, and bought plane tickets. Time to come out from hiding! I'm going to go, and I'm going to talk to people, and try to be just a teensy bit more visible.

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