Well, I got my rejection email from the Berkshire Conference of Women's Historians yesterday. This was the third time I had submitted a panel and the third time it has been rejected. It is a good thing that I don't evaluate my entire career on whether or not I am accepted by women's historians - because I am quite certain I would have given up and become computer programmer if I did.
I am sure there are some historians out there who are thinking 'buck up- maybe your proposals are just not that good.' Okay, MAYBE, but similar proposals were good enough for me to present at other national conferences. I've been to the AHA three times, they love me at SHAFR, at PHS conferences there is standing-room only available at my sessions (this last one is a lie - about the standing room only - but my proposals have been accepted at PHS conferences regularly since 2000).
So what is the problem with me and the Berks? As far as I can tell, it is that I'm not 'edgy' enough. I write traditional history about women, women who are involved in politics and foreign policy. I can just imagine how my proposals have been viewed by the program committee.
Committee member 1: Oh, another proposal for a session on the historical importance of the clitoris.
Committee member 2: Haven't we already accepted proposals about 'The History of the Vagina' and 'The Origins of Foreplay?'
Committee member 3: Yes, but a scholarly discussion of the clitoris is so much different than those other panels.
Committee member 1: Very true. Are we all agreed it is in? (general nodding ensues) Good. Next?
Committee member 2: I have a proposal about women's involvement in U.S. diplomacy prior to the 1960s.
Committee member 3: Political history? How very 1970s! (everyone laughs and then my proposal gets thrown in the trash can without further discussion.)
This must be how military historians feel.
Of course to add insult to injury, the form rejection letter the Berkshire Program Committee sent was from 2005 - first line reads: Thank you for your submission to the 2005 Berkshire Conference of Women Historians.
I think I'll write back and let them know that luckily I didn't apply for the 2005 Conference, but to let me know when they get around to rejecting my 2008 proposal.