Getting Ready for #BigBerks aka #Berks2011
Like many historians of women I’m getting ready to head off to the Fifteenth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst on June 9-12. (See the program here). Note: this is a conference on the history of women, not a conference just for female historians — men, both cis and trans, are welcome as well (as are, of course, trans-women).
If you want to meet other women’s historians who blog, come to the meet-up organized by Historiann. This will be held Friday afternoon from 5:30-6:30 in the Grad Lounge of the Lincoln Campus. If you consult the campus map on page 27 of the program, you’ll see that the Lincoln Campus Center is also the conference hotel, and is right across the street from Worcester Dining, where you can find your dinner after the meetup.In addition to yours truly, you can meet Tenured Radical, Clio Bluestocking, Another Damned Medievalist, Janice Liedl
Now, why am I using this “#” thing in the title of this blog post? Well, because I’ve set up this blog so that my posts are automatically sent to my Twitter feed (see column at left. My Twitter name is @hmprescott). You can follow the Berkshire Conference feed using @Berksconference. But that’s only part of the Twitter experience. If you want to find out what other Twitter users are saying, use #BigBerks and/or #Berks2011.
I’m one of the few people who was allowed to appear more than once on the program because a session commentator dropped out. This is quite an honor — but I can’t help expressing a minor gripe to the conference organizers: did you have to put both my panels back to back, on opposite sides of campus?! Otherwise, great job at putting together an impressive program.
Yesterday, I got an important question from Cliotropic, aka Shane Landrum via Twitter (@Cliotropic). Shane will be attending his first Berkshire Conference and wanted to know what to wear. He said in a direct message: “Since you’ve attended the Berks before & I haven’t: how dressed-up is it? I’m assuming “tie, no jacket” for presenting but want to be sure.” To which I replied, ” The Berks are supposed to be casual and I’m fighting those who want to turn it into the AHA. So, shorts, no tie!” I then tweeted: “recommended dress code for #BigBerks aka #Berks2011 — casual please! #nottheAHA”
Seriously, the first time I attended the Berkshire Conference, at Douglass College, Rutgers University, in 1990, it was like a summer camp. Most of the attendees wore shorts and t-shirts — the most dressed up had on sun dresses and casual skirts. Then I noticed a disturbing trend, starting with the 1993 conference at Vassar — folks were dressing to impress. There were power suits! Fancy dresses. Oh no, we’re becoming the AHA. Not good!
So, I’m making a plea to all of you who are packing to head off to Western Massachusetts — please think casual casual. Dress for comfort. In particular, keep in mind that we are going to have record heat — mid-90s — for the first day or two of the conference, with high humidity. Unlike other areas of the country, air conditioning is not a standard feature of college and university buildings in the Northeast. So, don’t assume that the room you’ve been assigned will be cooled to perfection (or beyond — seriously, why do you folks in warm climates set the thermostat at or below 60 degrees — isn’t that considered winter where you are?) This being New England, the weather will go in the other direction — it cool off by Saturday with showers during the day and perhaps downright chilly evenings.
Okay, enough advice. Got to finish the comments for my second panel. Hope to see some of you soon!