CFP: Virginia Forum: "Crossroads"

We are pleased to announce that the Virginia Forum will hold its eighteenth annual conference March 16–18, 2023, at Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, West Virginia. This year’s theme is “Crossroads.” Nestled on the banks of the Potomac River, Shepherdstown has been a geographical and cultural crossroads for centuries. First Peoples utilized a nearby ford, now named Packhorse or Boteler’s Ford, on trading paths. White settlers later used the water passage as part of the Philadelphia Road. Enslaved Blacks passed through the area throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries on journeys of freedom, and the eastern panhandle of West Virginia played a critical role in the long civil rights movement. Both the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad cut through the region making it a transportation and shipping corridor. And in the middle of the American Civil War, the area not only witnessed numerous armies launching invasions or des perately retreating, but also saw the creation of West Virginia in 1863—the result of longstanding cultural differences and political fights. Indeed, 2023 will mark the 160th anniversary of West Virginia statehood.

The Virginia Forum is an interdisciplinary conference and welcomes work in a variety of disciplines including, but not limited to, anthropology, archaeology, economics, education, environmental studies, geography, history, law, literature, and politics. Each year the conference encourages proposals from and ultimately brings together academics, applied and public historians, archivists, historic site interpreters, librarians, museum professionals, teachers, writers, and others engaged in the study and interpretation of Virginia history and culture. Throughout the weekend presenters and guests will share their knowledge, research, and experiences. The Virginia Forum welcomes a variety of presentation formats including complete panel sessions, demonstrations, roundtables, workshops, etc.

During the conference regional public historians will be offering tours of nearby Civil War battlefields (Antietam and Shepherdstown) and historic Harpers Ferry (the site of John Brown’s 1859 raid, Storer College, and the 1906 Niagara Movement). Moreover, the C&O Canal’s towpath (184.5 miles from point-to-point) affords ample opportunities for hiking, biking, and running, while numerous local outfitters offer kayaking and white-water rafting on the Potomac River. “Historians on Tap” will open the event.

While the theme is intended to inspire proposals, it should not restrict ideas or submissions outside of its folds. Potential topics might address:

  • Freedom and slavery
  • Geographical, political, or cultural liminality
  • Canals, railroads, roads, and related transportation infrastructure
  • Emigration, immigration, or migration
  • Social and political change
  • The long civil rights movement
  • Civil War/Reconstruction
  • Vast early America

Proposals are due by December 20, 2022

For Panels: Proposals for complete panel sessions, workshops, etc. are encouraged. Submissions should include: 1) a one-page description of the overall session; 2) a separate, one-to-two paragraph description for each individual presentation in the session; and 3) a curriculum vitae or resume for each panel member, including the moderator, not to exceed three pages in length. Please combine the information in a single Word/pdf document, and please be sure to include the email address and other contact information for the panel’s primary organizer.

For Those Interested in Moderating a Session: Please submit a brief description of your area(s) of interest/specialization and a one-page curriculum vitae or resume with up-to-date contact information in a single Word/pdf document.

Contact Information:
Dr. James J. Broomall, Associate Professor History and Director of the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War, Shepherd University and 2023 Virginia Forum Program Committee Chair

Program Committee:
Dr. Cicero Fain III, Visiting Diversity Scholar at Marshall University
Kate E. Gruber, Acting Director of Curatorial Services and Special Exhibits Curator, Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation
Beth Parnicza, Public historian
Dr. Joe Rizzo, Executive director of Wilton House Museum
Dr. Nadine Zimmerli, Editor of History and Politics at the University of Virginia Press

Contact Email:

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Posted: September 19, 2022
Tagged: Calls for Papers