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Meetings & Events

2016 OAH Call for Proposals

“On Leadership” 

The proposals will be accepted until January 23, 2015.

Rhode Island Convention Center - outsdieProvidence, Rhode Island | April 7 - 10, 2016
Rhode Island convention Center

Please read important notes prior to submission.

Submit Proposal

In this presidential election year the Program Committee invites proposals addressing the theme "On Leadership" and exploring any aspect of leadership in American history. The character, origin, and practice of leadership; its successes, achievements, disappointments, and failures in any and every area of American life from the earliest years of human settlement to the early twenty-first century will be the principal topics of the 2016 OAH Annual Meeting.

We therefore ask for proposed papers, panels, and sessions that take up questions about leadership, broadly conceived. Proposals may consider leadership as it applies to any aspect of American history, including—though certainly not limited to—politics, revolts, economics, race, gender, reform, technology, education, religion, agriculture, arts, resistance, sports, entertainment, research, communications, sexuality, literature, scholarship, environment, class, and international affairs whether leading in conventional or unconventional and dissenting directions or bounded by national, regional, or local demarcations or stretching beyond concepts of boundaries, as in cyberspace. We welcome panels that investigate cultural understandings of leadership as well as debates over ideas about leadership.

Who have America's leaders been, individually and collectively? What has produced success, failure, and disappointment in their efforts? What leadership has uplifted America, what has set the nation and its peoples back, and how do we make those judgments when we write, teach and interpret American history? How have Americans, including our readers, students and audiences, imagined American leaders and leadership across decades and centuries? How have Americans understood relations between leaders, communities, and followers? What have we learned about leaders of grassroots social and political movements, about military leaders and leaders of peace movements, about leaders and leadership in small communities, and non-traditional leaders and non-traditional forms of leadership?

How have Americans represented leaders and leadership in history, literature, the arts, and culture? How have Americans encountered leaders—homegrown, imported, virtual, imagined, and invented? How have leaders at all levels been shaped by the processes that created them? How have those processes and leaders, changed through time? How have crises molded and recast leaders and our understandings of American history? How has the study or understanding of history influenced leaders?

We hope to assemble a program that addresses leadership in America's past in many ways, reflecting all kinds of historical work and mirroring the full diversity of OAH membership both in the US and abroad. Whenever possible, panel proposals should exhibit diversity of membership. Of course, as has been the case in every annual meeting, the 2016 Program Committee also welcomes proposals for sessions on timely, important topics in any facet of American history.

Important Notes about Submitting a Proposal for the 2016 Annual Meeting

Please read all the following information before submitting your proposal.

Registration and Membership Requirements
All participants are required to register for the Annual Meeting. Participants who specialize in American history and support themselves as American historians are also required to be members of the OAH. Participants representing other disciplines are not required to be members of the OAH.

Repeat Participation
OAH policy prohibits individuals from participating in two consecutive annual meetings in the same role and limits individuals to appearing only once on the program in a given year. If you have questions about this policy, e-mail the OAH meetings department <>.

Please note that the conference takes place from Thursday through Sunday. Though committee and affiliate conflicts will be taken into consideration during the scheduling process, you must be available to present during this four day period.

Submission Procedure
Complete session proposals include a chair, participants, and, if applicable, a commentator (chairs may double as commentators, and commentators may be omitted if the audience is to serve in that role). The Program Committee encourages alternative formats that maximize audience participation, such as sessions with no formal comment.
All proposals must include the following information:
• a complete mailing address, e-mail address, phone number, and affiliation for each participant
• an abstract of no more than 500 words for the session as a whole
• a prospectus of no more than 250 words for each paper presentation - this only applies to paper sessions
• a biography of no more than 500 words for each participant

Session Types
Please remember that all sessions except workshops are 90 minutes in length and that 25 minutes should be reserved for discussion.

Paper Session: The traditional session format, paper sessions feature a chair, three or four papers, and one or two commentators. A single paper can have one or more presenters.
Debate: A debate is a regulated discussion of an issue with two matched sides. Debates have one moderator, two or more panelists, and no commentators.
Exhibit or Poster Session: Exhibit or poster sessions include several presenters and their posters or other visual presentations of their scholarship. Posters are displayed in a meeting room, and attendees are invited to attend the session during certain hours to discuss the scholarship with the presenters. The posters may be available at all times during a convention, depending on the layout of the venue. Poster sessions have one or more panelists and no chair or commentator.
Film Screening: Film screenings usually show all or a portion of a film and include a question-and-answer segment with the filmmaker and producers. Film screenings have a chair and one or more panelists.
Advance Text Session: Substantial papers are offered online three weeks prior to the convention to be discussed in detail during the meeting. These sessions include a chair, the paper author who will make introductory comments for 5 minutes only, and one or more commentators, with a minimum of 45 minutes reserved for audience discussion.
Panel Discussion: Panel discussions include a group of people discussing one topic, such as a film, a new text, or a tribute to a well-known scholar. Each panelist speaks on a distinct topic relating to the session theme. These sessions include a chair, three to five panelists, and no commentator.
Round Table Discussion: Round table discussions include a group of experts discussing a topic. A moderator leads the discussion, but all participants speak equally about the topic, with no distinct topic assigned to each participant. These sessions include a chair, three to five participants, and no commentator.
Single Paper: Single paper proposals include a paper that the presenter would like the Program Committee to join with other single paper proposals or small sessions. The committee will generally try to place single papers together to form a traditional paper session. Single papers include one more presenters and no chair or comment.
State of the Field: In these panels senior historians and new professionals discuss a subfield of American history in depth. These panels have one chair, two or three panelists, and no commentator.
Workshop: A workshop is a training session where the presenters work directly with participants to teach them a skill or concept. Workshops are usually small, so the group can participate in the learning and interact with the presenters. These sessions often have one or two chairs.


We know it is unusual in a call for papers, but the 2016 OAH Program Committee wishes to grapple with the problem of too often ignored time limits for papers and comments, not just with a plea but with a plan for gauging the appropriate length of papers.

We strongly encourage presenters to deliver ideas and arguments without reading directly from papers. We likewise recognize that informal presentations and new technologies tempt us all to exceed the time allowed for papers and presentations. Talks that run long reduce the time for the discussions that make OAH meetings particularly lively, vital, and interesting. When overlong papers, presentations, and comments eliminate the opportunity for meaningful discussion, the results are dispiriting for everyone.

Whatever form a session takes, we propose that all papers given at the 2016 OAH Annual Meeting in Providence adhere to the "words per minute" formula outlined below. It tracks most speakers as reading 100 words comfortably in 1 minute. If this seems minuscule, please consider that it accommodates "asides" commonly made as many speakers present their papers, asides that also take time. Speakers do read at different rates, but experience suggests most speakers and listeners find this rate comfortable.

The formula is simple:

10-minute papers = 1000 words
12-minute papers = 1200 words
15-minute papers = 1500 words
20-minute papers = 2000 words
25-minute papers = 2500 words

Speakers and session chairs will be informed of the time allotted for each paper or comment, so the number of words suggested for each paper or comment will be clear to everyone.

Like Program Committees past, we encourage sessions in a variety of formats—traditional panels composed of three papers and a comment, but also sessions of a single paper of unusual significance with several commentators, round tables of several brief papers that explore a significant issue or assess the state of a field, workshops, and sessions devoted to teaching. A descriptive list of session formats is found below.

All sessions will be 90 minutes in length, with the exception of workshops, which may run longer.

Twenty-five minutes should be reserved for discussion.

If the proposed session takes the traditional form of a series of papers with a comment, proposers should take into account the 90-minute slot, with 25 minutes reserved for discussion, when developing the proposal.

2016 OAH Annual Meeting Program Committee