History Professor and Department Chair Dr. Carole Collier Frick attended the European Association for Urban History (EAUH) conference, Cities and Societies in Comparative Perspective, in Prague, Czech Republic, from August 29th to September 1st. She attended the conference to present her work on female agency in civil society within the northern Italian city-states during the Renaissance.
The EAUH began in 1992 as a small organization of European scholars, with as few as 80 historians presenting their work to one another. Now, the conference, held every other year in various European cities, consists of around 700 scholars, and Frick was invited for the first time to the conference this year.
She was thrilled to accept the invitation not only because she had never before been to Prague but also because she was eager to network with scholars who are also researching women and family roles in Renaissance Italy. Traveling abroad to conferences is key to obtaining new research projects and to get one’s research noticed.
“This is what makes our reputation, presenting at international conferences, especially when you’re doing European History,” says Frick.
Besides establishing a reputation among European scholars, Frick also stresses that attending international conferences and taking an active role in networking and expanding her research is important for her students. The information and connections she gains from the conferences helps her to help her students.
“If you’re a teacher, you should be active in your research,” she says. “It allows your students to do work on projects with you, and then they get a leg up in their profession. If you’re working on the latest papers, the latest articles, then the whole quality of education goes up.”
While the conference focuses on European studies, the topics are comparative to cities outside of Europe, which to Frick, makes the information even more interesting. Some of the topics that especially piqued her interest at the conference were consumption practices and circulation of goods in Europe compared to other parts of the world as well as gender and luxury issues in urban economies.
Frick has brought the comparative knowledge she learned from not only the conference but from simply being in Prague back to SIUE and is sharing a different outlook on Italian history with her students in the classroom.
“I’m talking to my students about this because I’m teaching Renaissance History right now…about how different that city is and why and [how] the history of that city is so different than Italy,” says Frick. “This gives you a different perspective to approach your own work. You come back to your own work with a slightly different mindset, and that’s very productive.”
Since Frick has returned from the conference, she has already received emails from scholars in Germany and Italy who took notice of her work and are interested in collaborating with her on future projects.
She met a number of scholars from different countries–Spain, Czech Republic, Canada, and Belgium, to name a few–and was delighted to have the opportunity to make connections and learn about their research, which in many cases was in her same area of study. One connection that Frick made at the EAUH conference that is already yielding fruitful results is with a professor from University of Southern Denmark named Deborah Simonton.
Simonton has received funding for events and to publish a book about gender in European urban settings, and Frick will be collaborating with her. As a result of this connection, Frick will be attending the Gender in the European Town conference at the University of Southern Denmark in May 2013.
While most of the attendees at the conference were European, there were some American universities represented. Besides Frick from SIUE, scholars from University of California, Berkeley, University of Michigan, State University of New York, and University of Wisconsin were also at the conference.
With connections made, new information gained, and the experience of visiting a new, gorgeous European city, Frick felt that the EAUH conference in Prague was an overall highly successful trip, and she anticipates being invited back in 2014.
Filed Under: Historical Studies