Mark Hulsether: Upper Midwest, 2009
In 2009, I made two eventful trips to the upper midwest. In one sense such trips, which I make fairly often, are "routinely eventful" because whenever I can carve out blocks of time to spend at my cabin in the north woods, this is the main time and place that I make progress on my writing and research. The picture of me "diligently" at work reading in the middle of the St. Croix River is meant to be something of a joke, but the general point is not a joke at all.
The first of my 2009 Minnesota trips, in April, was especially noteworthy because I was invited to give one of just three speeches at a symposium to honor my much-beloved dissertation advisor, David W. Noble, on the occasion of his retirement.
Among many invitations I have received to give talks over the years, I am especially proud of this one because David directed more than 100 dissertations during the course of his long career (starting in 1952), including those of a number of people who became quite famous. Thus to be singled out for this invitation felt like a significant honor. I worked hard on my speech and felt good about how it turned out. Plus I got my picture taken with David and grabbed a couple of days at my cabin afterward.
My second trip, during the summer, was also unusually eventful because it included an opportunity to participate in two scholarly meetings in Minneapolis. One was a meeting of the Twin Cities Americanists, a group of scholars from several local universities who work on US religion; for their June meeting they read an article of mine and invited me to present it and discuss it with them. Then, in July, I was invited to a symposium of the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Minnesota. They flew in Robert Orsi (a past president of the American Academy of Religion) to lead a day of discussion about emerging methodological issues in the academic study of religion. I feel lucky to be able to float between powerful scholarly networks linked to both the University of Minnesota and the University of Tennessee.