Are they really French?I was in Urbana, Illinios over the weekend, presenting a paper at the annual meeting of the Society for French Historical Studies. Amidst the cornfields of the greater Champaign area, my allergies raged. I was so hopped up on antihistimines that I couldn't take much in. Nonetheless, my paper, "A Place in the Republic," was well received. I even got some major encouragement from some heavyweights.
Actually, for an all-Alsace panel in the last group of sessions at the conference, we had a very large audience. The other two papers were well argued, and I look forward to any publications that might come in the future. As I gathered from the other panelists, Alsace is in more peripheral to French Studies than it is to France. Perhaps it's considered too German. Indeed, they expressed regret that they could not build a full career in French history out of studying Alsace, and that German historians were more receptive to their ideas.
As for the paper itself, I received only positive responses. The commentator was overjoyed by my "syncretic" approach. What really surprised me was how enthusiastic people could be about the German material in the paper. A few people wanted to know more about Landeskunde (German regional studies.) Others wanted to talk more about Adenauer beyond the German national context. Regular readers to this blog know of my admiration for Adenauer. I'm now more convinced that I will make a future studying him.
I attended only a few panels because of my allergies: one on environmental history, another on occultism and political prophecy. Right now I need to get some rest: it took me two days to get home because of problems at the Chicago airport, and running from gate to gate wore me out. However, in all that time, I was able to read Manuel Azuela's The Underdogs (an interesting fiction on the Mexican Revolution, which can be read here) and half of Kevin Boyle's Arc of Justice.