This essay originally appeared on ActiveHistory.ca in May 2014
This morning, as you read this post, historians from across the country have gathered at Brock University in St. Catherines, Ontario for the Canadian Historical Association’s annual meeting (click here to read the program). The CHA’s annual meeting is one of the most important forums to hear about new and emerging research on Canada’s past or by historians working in Canada on non-Canadian subjects. This year, panels address computer modeling of battles and pandemics (today at 9 a.m.), the 1200th anniversary of Charlemagne’s death (also at 9 a.m.), surveillance in 20th century Canada (tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.) and Canadian historians and the media (a panel we’re sponsoring at noon on Wednesday). There’s always a little bit for everyone and it’s a good place to familiarize yourself with the breadth of historical work being conducted in Canada.
As such, the CHA’s annual meeting provides a convenient opportunity to reflect on the current state of Canadian history. Last year, at the start of the CHA, I wrote a post analyzing paper titles over the past decade, using them as an index to better understand the subjects on which historians are working (click here to read that post). The theory underpinning that exercise was, when taken collectively, paper titles reveal broader patterns about the state of the field. This year, I’ve embarked on a similar task, looking at the Canadian history papers that will be delivered over the next three days and setting them in a broader context. Instead of rehashing last year’s post, though, I’ve decided to take my study a little further. Rather than looking at past CHA programs, this year I decided to take a look at what some of Canada’s premier history journals suggest about the field as a whole. To do so, like last year, I’ve run article titles from the past decade of Acadiensis, B.C. Studies, Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française and the Canadian Historical Review through wordle.net (for the visualizations) and Voyant Tools (for the word ranking) to get a better sense of the topics in which Canadian historians are interested.
Continue reading “What does Canadian History Look Like? Impressions from the Periodical Room”