Last weekend I was in Philadelphia for the Annual Meeting of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR). (See here for the program and here for Monica’s RiAH post highlighting the “religion” panels.) I presented on a panel on “Mobility and the Making on Early National Religious Idenity,” with Shari Rabin and Roy Rogers. This was my first SHEAR conference, but I doubt it will be my last. The overall quality of papers was the best of any conference I’ve attended. Friday morning’s session on “Faith, Politics, and Law After the Founding” was especially thought-provoking. Also, I attended a reception for contributors to the American Yawp, which is a great project that you should check out if you haven’t already. Anyway, SHEAR is great; you should go.
American religious history was well represented at the conference. However, one of the most generative aspects of the conference, for me, was the intermingling of various subfields. Clearly there were a number of “religion panels” (and, Shari and I noted, upon not leaving our seats for a few panels in a row, there was something of a “religion room” where those panels were held.) Nevertheless, within those panels and others not explicitly “religious,” most papers bridged subfields skillfully. Perhaps one reason for this was the tight chronology to which most panels kept. When scholars are able to focus in on a specific time and/or place, the connections between categories becomes more apparent.