As academics we are encouraged to join associations relating to our field and also to attend the conferences organised by these groups. In the field of American history and American studies there are some especially large gatherings and scholars have to decide whether they want to attend these. So what are the pros and cons?
The two main conferences are the Organisation of American Historians (OAH) and the Association of American Historians (AHA). They are attended by thousands of people every year and move venues from city to city around the US. Other conferences in this vein include the American Studies Association (ASA) and the Popular Culture Association (PCA).
Both are important venues to showcase your work, to meet the eminent scholars in your field, but also bring together members of the university and school teaching professions. The AHA also holds job interviews, so as well as giving a paper, a scholar on the job market might have to prepare a job interview. This is an especially nerve-wracking and high pressured environment and can seem a little like a conveyor belt, but it is a crucial part of the hiring process in the US.
So, if you want to get a job in the US, it’s probably important that you check out the AHA conference so you know how it works. But it is also important to get these conferences on your CV. And they are an amazing experience too, if a little intimidating.