2021 OAH Call for Proposals

2021 OAH Annual Meeting - Pathways to Democracy, April 15-18, 2021, Sheraton Grand Chicago


NEW: Use the OAH Annual Meeting Crossroads to find collaborators or contribute to a proposal for the 2021 OAH Annual Meeting

Read Insights blog post by 2021 OAH Program Committee Chair Natalia Molina!

Call for Proposals:

Since the beginning of American history, some residents of the United States have thought of themselves as living in a “democracy,” even when vast numbers of their fellow residents were excluded from voting and full citizenship by virtue of race, gender, or lack of property. Yet, the influences from classical Greece to Haudenosaunee as expressed in the founding documents of the nation often inspired those left out of full citizenship to fight for rights that would allow them to claim the power to be full members of the civic society. In addition, discussions of modern democracy often disavow how it was built on systems of inequality and extraction: settler colonialism, Indigenous dispossession, slavery, imperialism.

In our own times, it is clear that democratic principles need to be living and to be protected, and the quest for civil and human rights never can be taken for granted. How has democratic practice informed American politics and culture, including the ways historians have written about the changing contours of democracy? How have the boundaries of full citizenship been reshaped by social movements and political transformation, at national, regional and local levels? What responsibility do we have as historians to inform public debate about democracy and citizenship in our teaching, research, publications, and exhibitions? How might we reimagine and reorganize our colleges and universities to respond to the crises of climate justice, for example, in participatory democratic ways? In the aftermath of the 2020 Presidential election, has civic engagement by historians been renewed or diminished? The 2021 OAH Annual Meeting will address the theme of “pathways to democracy” in our past and present.

The Program Committee welcomes proposals from all areas and eras of early American and U.S. history, broadly conceived. While “pathways to democracy” might be linked to virtually every subject historians study and teach, the committee does not expect all papers and sessions to adhere to the conference theme. The OAH meeting will continue to be a site for wide-ranging conversation, a place to talk across subfields, to experiment with methods, topics, and presentation, and especially to learn from one another. The committee encourages proposals for panels, workshops, and roundtables that transcend traditional disciplinary and geographic boundaries, and especially that showcase work that reaches to a broader public. We welcome teaching sessions, particularly those that involve the audience as active participants.

The program will reflect the full diversity of the OAH membership in the United States and abroad. We especially aim to include public historians, archivists, curators, and independent scholars as well as those teaching at universities, colleges, community colleges, and secondary schools. Whenever possible, proposals should include presenters of different genders, different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and different levels of seniority in the profession. We prefer to receive proposals for complete sessions but will consider individual paper proposals as well.

2021 Program Committee

  • Cochair: Natalia Molina, University of Southern California 
  • Cochair: Jack Tchen, Rutgers University-Newark
  • Elizabeth Ellis, New York University
  • Virginia Espino, UCLA NTT
  • Christopher West, Pasadena City College
  • Max Krochmal, Texas Christian University
  • Jessica Lovaas, Harvest Collegiate HS
  • Bethany Moreton, Dartmouth University
  • Kate Masur, Northwestern University
  • Jennifer Scott, Jane Addams Hull House Museum

PROPOSAL SUBMITTER RESPONSIBILITIES: Upon review of the submissions, the Program Committee will only announce a "pending acceptance" or a "rejection." If you receive a pending acceptance it is the proposal submitter's responsibility to ensure that each session participant, regardless of role, completes their speaker agreement within the requested deadline (typically July 1). Once all agreements have been completed, only then will the session be officially accepted. If the agreements are not received by the deadline, the pending acceptance is void.

The proposal submitter is also asked to inform the OAH at the close of the Annual Meeting if any session participants failed to appear without prior notification.

Please ensure each participant reads important notes prior to submission.

Session Types

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

NEW: Lightning Rounds: 6-10 presenters and 1-2 chairs. Each participant is given 5-8 minutes to present an elevator pitch on their topic in quick succession (50 minutes). The chair(s) act as timekeeper and moderate 40 minutes of question and answer. 

Paper Presentation: 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.

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. This is not a paper presentation.

Roundtable Discussion: Roundtable 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. This is not a paper presentation.

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. These sessions will be recorded.

Workshop: A workshop is a training session where the presenters work directly with participants to teach them a new skill or concept. Workshops are usually small, so the group can participate in the learning and interact with the presenters.Please indicate the length needed for the workshop. These sessions often have one or two 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.

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 can only place single papers if other papers pair well to create a complete session. We encourage you to utilize the OAH Online Member Directory or use the NEW: OAH Crossroads to connect with other historians in your field to construct a full proposal for consideration.

Chat Seminar: 45-minute seminars that encourage discussion, debate, and conversation about topics trending in the field of American history. Each chat is led by 1-2 moderators who are not content providers, but instead direct and guide the conversation. Chats take place over the lunch period on the Saturday of the conference only. Chats include one or two moderators, and no commentators, panelists, or presenters.

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. FILMS MUST BE CLOSED CAPTIONED to be accepted.

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.