Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Submit a Paper or Panel for the 2012 Historical Society Conference

Randall Stephens

It's not too late to submit a paper or a panel proposal for the 2012 Historical Society Conference in Columbia, SC, Thursday, May 31st - Saturday, June 2nd, 2012.

But the deadline, December 1, will soon be upon us! Here's the CFP:

Professional historians in the United States are increasingly being called upon to produce more “popular,” more accessible history. How do and how should academic historians reach popular audiences? How and to what extent is “popular” history written around the world? Does the meaning of and audience for “popular history” vary from place to place? Along with professional historians, states, elites, and a variety of interest groups have long had an interest in sponsoring, supporting, and generating historical knowledge for popular and other audiences. We seek paper and panel proposals that will consider “popular” history in its various guises and locales. How and to what extent is the interest in “popular” history genuinely new? How do and how should historians interact with television and movie production or write op-ed pieces or blogs or serve as expert witnesses? Is there such a thing as a truly “popular” history? Do we need a distinctive “popular” history and are historians properly equipped to write it?

We especially encourage panel proposals, though individual paper proposals are welcome as well. And our interpretation of “panel” is broad: 2 or more presenters constitute a panel—chairs and commentators are optional. As at past conferences, we hope for bold yet informal presentations that will provoke lots of questions and discussion from the audience, not presenters reading papers word-for-word from a podium followed by a commentator doing the same.

Please submit proposals (brief abstract and brief CV) by
December 1, 2011 to Mark Smith and Dean Kinzley,
2012 Program Chairs, at jslucas@bu.edu


mmbennetts said...

I am fascinated by this and would have loved to send you something, however, a largish Pond separates me from your conference, and I'm certain your judges have better things to do than read a submission from someone who cannot possibly attend.

However, I would say one thing to please look for and consider is readability or good writing. In the course of my current research, I have read at least one book (which had information I desperately need!) that was frankly unreadable. Didn't matter that the author was an Oxford history don and I am myself a bit of an expert in the subject. I couldn't make heads nor tails of it; he seemed to have evolved his own jargon--much of which had little to do with what's found in the Oxford Concise Dictionary. He defined nothing and was as imprecise as possible wherever possible. If I found five sentences which actually made sense and were of use, it was a miracle. So I assume he wrote and published the thing for a handful of friends who also speak his evolved lingo.

On the other hand, I reread Gregor Dallas's 1815: The Roads to Waterloo and was again wholly engaged, wholly brought straight into the back-biting, underhanded and overhanded action of the Congress of Vienna. He brings the men and the places wholly to life.

So what I would say is that among the most essential elements in taking history into the 21st century is the absolute requirement to write well, to cmmunicate well and to captivate the audience, to engage their interest and their imagination. Because without that, we may as well hang up the towel and go home now.

Jonathan Hopkins said...

I couldn't agree more.