Sometimes Americanists can feel isolated in their departments because they are surrounded by American scholars of other disciplines in an American studies department, or other historians in a History department. One quick and cheap way to combat research isolation is to create a reading group!
While organising conferences or seminar series can take a lot of administrative time and need funding, a reading group is a siple way to get researchers together for an informal discussion without having a huge outlay of cash.
In Manchester, I have recently founded the Manchester-MMU American History reading group and we had our first meeting last week. We discussed Walter Russell Mead’s book ‘God and Gold’, a lively book that produced a correspondingly lively discussion!
As well as sharing our thoughts on this book over a civilised glass of wine, we also discussed our own research and teaching experiences. The meeting also allowed scholars who knew of each other’s work to put names to faces. So, almost the perfect academic encounter really, and all for very little outlay of time or money.
At our next meeting we’re reading Natalie Zacek’s ‘Settler Society in the English Leeward Islands’: looking forward to it already! Why don’t you try setting up your own reading group?