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Meetings & Events

2018 OAH Call for Proposals

"The Forms of History” 

Sacramento, CA | April 12 - 16, 2018
Sacramento Convention Center

Submissions will be accepted between November 25, 2016 and January 9, 2017
Please ensure each participant reads important notes prior to submission.

The OAH annual meeting of 2018 will foster conversation about the forms in which we represent the American past.

Encouraging proposals from all periods and subjects of American history, the program committee also encourages colleagues to address explicitly the form in which they conceive and present their work. Form embraces the medium, the narrative or analytical strategy, evidence, and intended audience for an interpretation. Bringing those decisions to the surface can generate productive questions and conversation.

Form works quite differently in different genres of history. The creation of new knowledge in monographs, journal articles, and conference papers, for example, inspires, enables, and limits other forms in ways it would be useful to consider.

Teaching at all levels is the most powerful and commonly practiced form of historical discussion. Paying closer attention to our means of instruction can help make teaching more engaging and enlightening.

Americans engage with the nation's past at historic sites, in novels and stories, in movies, on television, and in theater. They participate in genealogy and in online communities. Millions visit national parks and millions play electronic games in which history provides the setting and the drama.

History is one of the most popular genres of popular non-fiction, with biographies, overviews of major events, and analyses of the historical origins of current-day problems often on the bestseller lists.

History operates throughout the digital world, from transformed archives to innovative visualizations. Historians experiment to find digital forms that advance our understanding of the past and that share that understanding with broader audiences.

Interpretations of the history of politics, military events, and foreign relations shape policy, op-eds, political campaigns, trade policy, law, military strategy, and conflict resolution.

Whatever the context and purpose, form shapes the stories we tell and the way we understand the past. Addressing those forms more thoughtfully can improve all that historians do.

The meeting will also encourage experimentation with the form of the presentation of the meeting itself.

For decades, historians have complained about the structure of our sessions, in which we read papers to one another. This meeting will foster alternatives that feature the many and diverse forms of history, encouraging, for example, the distribution of materials beforehand electronically, the presentation of video or other performance, engagement with the audience from the outset, the creative use of social media, and so on. Please experiment.

Everyone is welcome.

2018 OAH Annual Meeting Program Committee

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.

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.
Digital Humanities Demonstration: Digital Humanities demonstrations may include one to several presenters and their digital projects. Projects are displayed in a digital alley in or outside the exhibit hall. Conference attendees are invited to view the projects during certain hours and to explore and discuss the scholarship with the presenters. Depending on the layout of the venue, the projects may be available at all times during the convention. Monitors are provided.
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.