Call for Papers



The Berkshire Conference of Women Historians presents its 17th Conference:

Difficult Conversations: Thinking and Talking about Women,
Genders, and Sexualities Inside and Outside the Academy
at Hofstra University, Hempstead NY
June 1-4, 2017

Proposals are no longer being accepted.  Join us at the conference.

I.            Message from Program Chairs

II.          What’s New for 2017

III.         Call for Papers

IV.         Themed Tracks

V.           Session Formats

VI.          Instructions for Submitting a Proposal

VII.        Online Submission of Proposals

VIII.      Notification

XI.         Proposals from Professionals Outside the Academy

X.           The Evaluation Process

I.   Message from Program Chairs

Dear Friends:

As Program Co-Chairs we are delighted to issue the Call for Papers for the 17th Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Genders, and Sexualities, to be held June 1-4, 2017 at Hofstra University in Hempstead NY (25 miles East of New York City on Long Island). We welcome proposals for individual papers, panels, lightening sessions, roundtables, workshops, seminars, poster sessions, digital humanities presentations, and Birds of a Feather (BOF) sessions.  Because we are committed to expanding participation in the conference, and developing venues of presentation which can include a greater number of participants, we’re excited to introduce several new features to this year’s meeting. Please read about them below.

The deadline for submission of proposals is February 5, 2016 (the original deadline of January 15 has been extended).  All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Berkshire Conference website. As part of the submission process, you will be asked to select the Theme Track, or subject area, in which you would like your proposal considered. Your proposal will then be forwarded to the appropriate Track Chair. You will find detailed instructions for submission below. You will also find more detailed information about the conference below. If you have any questions about the program that are not covered in this Call for Papers, please feel free to be in touch with us.  If you have questions about Themed Tracks please contact the track chairs directly.  All other questions can be directed to us at

We look forward to seeing you at Hofstra in 2017!

Judith Byfield (Cornell University)
Annelise Orleck  (Dartmouth College)
Susan Yohn  (Hofstra University)
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II.   What’s New for 2017

We’re cognizant of criticisms that too many people are being shut out of the conference.  We’ve introduced a number of new formats for the meeting – lightning sessions, panels led by activists, Birds of a Feather (BOF) meetings.  Our goal is to include a larger number of people from both inside and outside the academy to discuss the many topics germane to the Conference.  Please note the following new developments:

  • You may appear on the program no more than twice, and then only in two different roles in the conference (i.e. as chair and paper presenter OR as roundtable discussant and paper presenter OR as seminar participant and panel respondent, etc.). You may choose any combination of two roles (chair, discussant, paper presenter, respondent, moderator, lightning presenter, digital humanities presenter, seminar participant).
  • All panelists must join the Berkshire Conference to appear on the Program.
  • Session Sponsorship: Session organizers may request to have an academic institution, research center/archive, learned society, or non-profit organization, (e.g., if the institution has provided funding for the research being presented, is subsidizing the participation of presenters, etc.) listed as sponsor. Please contact Program Co-Chairs at for more information.

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III.  Call for Papers

The theme for the 2017 Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Genders and Sexualities will be Difficult Conversations: Thinking and Talking About Women, Genders, and Sexualities Inside and Outside the Academy.

We interpret this overarching theme broadly, inviting submissions for an array of engaging and interactive presentations intended to generate conversations across time, fields, methodologies, and geographic borders; across races, classes, sexualities and gender identities; between academic and public historians, activists, artists and performers. We are especially keen to attract participants from around the globe and scholars of time periods and geographic fields that have been underrepresented at the Berkshire Conference.

We hope these conversations will highlight fresh perspectives and create new networks for intellectual collaboration and activism among scholars, public historians, artists, activists, teachers, and those interested in history, social movements and social justice. Such interaction has dynamic potential to move the history of women, genders, and sexualities in particularly innovative directions that generate new theories and methodologies, bringing these histories into new spaces – not only in our universities and liberal arts colleges but also in community colleges, community centers, K-12 schools, prisons, community based organizations and other activist groups in the United States and abroad. Such an approach is critical at a time when social movements that seek to expand civil and human rights are being recast and depoliticized and when the very relevance of teaching history is being questioned in many quarters.

Women’s history has undergone enormous shifts since the First Berkshire conference, recasting dominant historical narratives and pioneering new ideas and methodologies. Fresh ideas about the very category of “women,” innovative studies of the body, new analyses of sexuality, trans-regional and transnational scholarship have transformed understandings of history. We now stand at a critical crossroads rich with possibilities for exciting innovations in research and teaching in this field.

Reviving connections between communities and institutions, historians are increasingly joining forces — inside and outside the academy –  with an eye toward affecting social change and social justice. New forms of cooperation have raised important historical questions: What can we learn from internationalizing the discussion of women, careers and family? How can we use multi-sited histories of slavery to write gendered histories of global capitalism? How can scholars and activists collaborate to transform the pedagogical landscape in our ‘classrooms’? This conference is a call for collaboration and cooperation across many lines of difference.

The 2017 Berkshire Conference will be a venue for difficult conversations about these and other crucial questions. In the hope of promoting a greater range of conversations and interactions, this “Big Berks” seeks to intentionally change up the way we present and discuss history. In addition to the traditional modes of presentation, we are expanding the workshop and poster initiatives of the last several conferences and adding several new types of venues for discussion. While we are not directly a part of the new “unconferencing” movement, we see ourselves as part of an effort to explode old modes of academic conferencing to make this Berks more interactive and engaging.

We invite submissions for the following themed tracks. Please think about submitting a range of conference presentations that include different kinds of voices. We strongly encourage submissions that mix scholars, public historians and/or activists, artists, performers. We also encourage submissions that mix in one session digital history, reading of papers, performances and visual culture. Do not hesitate to submit a proposal even if you do not see your topic listed below. Pick a track that you feel could broadly fit your topic.  Track chairs will then channel your proposal appropriately.

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IV.   Themed Tracks

From those listed below, please identify the subject area in which you wish to have your proposal considered. Note: Several divisions include suggested themes for exploration. These suggestions do not preclude proposals on other topics.  Questions about tracks should be directed to track co-chairs.

1. Gender and the State: Majorities and Minorities

The state is present in gendered debates on the rights and obligations of citizenship, the provision of social welfare, governance and control, hierarchy and fealty, discrimination and marginalization. State power and also state violence are expressed differentially according to gender, with reference to legal status, reproductive rights, marriage, death, and an individual’s inclusion in the polity. Proposals might explore some of the following questions: How are gendered experiences and identities shaped by the state, and how do the demands of sexual, racial, ethnic, religious, and indigenous minorities shape state practices and institutions? How does power circulate between majorities and minorities, and how is difference, subordination, and subjecthood produced by the state, and also challenged by non-dominant communities? Specific examples might also refer to legal equality and legal status; struggles for suffrage; reproductive, human, and migrant rights; and the regulation of gendered forms of labor.

Track Chairs:

2. Social Justice, Migration and the City

Cities – as spatial forms, economic entities, and human habitats – are dynamic hubs where identity, social relations, power, inequality, and social change are visible and contested in the natural, built, and human environment, in memories and artifacts of the past, and the present. Movements of people searching for better lives and for greater opportunities, fleeing persecution and violence, or just escaping the confines of their previous lives, often end up in cities. Whether segregated or intermingled, people from different regions and different parts of the world negotiate space and identity, fight for justice and create change. We invite proposals from historians and interdisciplinary scholars working on different geographical areas, or transnationally, that explore some aspect of the historical role that migrants, migration and urban space have played in advancing both inequality and freedom, in incubating struggles for social justice and change.

Proposals in this track are encouraged to consider the following questions: how migration and mobility have impacted economic, social, cultural and political relations and formations; how the city as a spatial form influences perceptions about poverty and wealth, citizenship, social control and the nation of freedom; how global forces, markets and privatization create and/or shape urban spaces and people’s lives; how inequalities manifest in urban spaces and through institutions such as housing, employment, and education; how cities shape notions of community and belonging, identity, access and exclusion; and how urban (suburban and ex-urban) environments structure organizing, grassroots activism and social justice agendas

Track Chairs:

3.  Globalized Labor

Examining women’s labor from a global perspective offers many possibilities to consider historical specificity, women’s migration, political involvement, and transnational social movements, as well as the multiple ways in which women’s labor shapes and is shaped by broader political and economic processes. It also examines how women’s labor has defined global circuits, labor demands, and transnational labor, especially in regards to intimate labor, care-giving, outsourcing life (surrogacy), lack of documentation, and informal economies.  By the same token, we are interested in papers that look at how women have organized to challenge women’s disenfranchisement and oppression within globalized systems of labor and production.

We invite proposals from historians of different geographical areas, transnational scholars, as well as activists that address the following areas: women and transatlantic/transpacific migration; trafficking and forced labor; neoliberalism and labor migration; subcontracted labor; guest workers; the informal sector; women entrepreneurs; the gender pay gap; women’s labor and climate change; segregated labor markets; international labor organizing; women’s labor and social reproduction; transnational families and women’s work; surrogate motherhood and transnational adoption; women’s labor and free trade policy; the wages for housework movement; working class/labor movements; transnational social movements; the International Labour Organization (ILO) and women’s labor; labor legislation/protective legislation and women workers.

Track Chairs:

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  4. Slavery and Other Forms of Unfree Labor

We invite historians, activists, and others who are interested in examining how systems of unfree labor shaped lived experiences in “free” and “unfree” societies from ancient times to the twenty-first century. Slavery configured the geographic landscape of all who came into contact with it and connected societies economically, especially as global capitalism developed rapidly.  As a result of slavery’s commodification, systems of inequality were established that still linger.  We hope that the panel presentations offered will provide deep analyses of slavery, push forward new methodological approaches, broaden historiographical borders that have surrounded the subject, and advance new questions about the historical legacies of unfree labor.  We are especially interested in receiving proposals that emphasize the gendered dimensions of slavery and unfree labor in comparative frameworks temporally and spatially, from the ancient world to the 21st century. Papers might include analyses of slave systems that connected societies across the Atlantic, Pacific or Indian oceans, trans-Saharan slavery, convict labor, sexual (including marriage) and debt slavery, or other institutions of bonded labor.

Track Chairs:

5. Women, Gender and Capitalism

With the recent, renewed interest in the history of capitalism, we seek to open up a conversation that deepens our understanding of capitalism and its diverse role in the transformation of economies and societies across the globe.  We are particularly interested in proposals that consider how the study of women and gender can help us better understand global capitalism as an internally differentiated and interconnected, shared structure.  Proposals that join an innovative use of both quantitative and qualitative methods and evidence will be given special consideration, as will those that incorporate how historians, activists, artists, economists and others have engaged with the histories of capitalism.  We invite submissions on topics as diverse as corporate capitalism, the service economy, markets and consumption, business, the environment and development, social networks, globalization and antiglobalization, and big data.

Track chairs:

6.  Sexualities, Gender Identities and Expressions

We call for proposals that consider the question of how sex, sexualities and gender are managed and maintained across boundaries of race, class, and culture  (among others). New paths of contestation engaging the fluidity of genders and sexualities are called for in the current state of emergency surrounding issues of anti-Black racism and police brutality that have generated public protest in the United States.  Similarly, popular and state uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa (among others), have destabilized conventional hierarchies. How might these conflicts generate new models of activism, scholarship, and praxis along axes of gender identity, expression, and sexualities?  How do emergent gender identities and sexual expressions produce both antagonisms and possibilities? Papers that concern historically situated race and racism and local and transnational state violence are particularly relevant.  The Sexualities and Gender Identities and Expressions track will also consider but not be limited to: queer pedagogies; reproductive technologies and sexualities; relations among Feminist Studies/LGBTQ Studies/ Queer Studies; police states and violence; intimate partner violence; social protest; pleasure and sexual practices; trans*/national movements and movement building; political coalitions; dangerous intimacies.

Track Chairs:

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7. Women, Gender and Science

The Program Committee welcomes proposals for panels, papers, round-table discussions, or other presentations on all aspects of the history of women, gender(s), and science (including medicine and technology). We are particularly interested in creating a program that includes a range of geographic areas, historical periods, and methodologies. We welcome proposals that are interdisciplinary and intersectional, and that represent a diverse set of voices within academia and beyond including, but not limited to, those that engage visual and performing arts, science fiction, civic science, do-it-yourself experiments, computing and the Maker Movement. We especially encourage panel proposals that bring together scholars, artists, and/or practitioners around a common theme.

Track Chairs:

8. Pedagogy and Work Culture, K-12

The Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Genders, and Sexualities brings together thousands of historians, activists, educators, and artists to share their research and activism. The 2017 conference especially wants to involve teachers and teacher educators in a lively discussion of teachers’ work as well as curriculum, pedagogy, and the history of education informed by feminist, queer, Marxist, and race-based theory. We plan to partner teachers and teacher educators with academics, school activists, museum educators, librarians, and artists to explore gender and sexuality in school curricula and the life of schools and those who work there. A range of creative presentation formats—including performance-based, digital, and open forum—are encouraged.  Possible topics include:  How genders and sexuality are taught (or not taught) in the curriculum in the era of high stakes testing; Engaging social issues in K-12 curriculum (e.g., peace, suffrage, temperance, anti-lynching) that illuminate and enrich the understanding of a particular era or movement;  The gendered nature of the attack on public education, the history of women in the schools, and teacher union history; Gender and the work of teachers, including oral histories of closeted and “out” queer educators.

Track Chairs:

9. Women, Gender and War

War, as a time of dramatic rupture and change, can bring terrible suffering but also, potentially, opportunity. Wars serve to construct, fracture and challenge gender identities and gendered hierarchies. Gender, moreover, has been a mobilizing theme for both anti-war and militaristic movements. We invite innovative contributions that address topics such as the gendered dimensions of both home fronts and battle fronts; the intersections of gender, ethnicity and religious identification in war contexts; the ways that different genders and sexualities are negotiated within wartime regimes; the intersections of war, gender, science and technology; the gendered dimensions of war memory, memorialization and mourning; the gendering of wartime discourse and propaganda; and media, literary and visual representations of gender, war and conflict. Submissions may deal with any geographical area(s) and any historical era, from ancient to modern.

Track Chairs:

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10. Refugees, Asylum and Gender

Gender and sexuality have shaped the flow of people fleeing war persecution, man-made and natural catastrophes, playing a strong role not only in who flees, but also in what they experience. Additionally, as a form of forced migration, refugee migration invites juxtaposition with detention and deportation, international adoption, and human trafficking.  Thus we invite path breaking contributions that address the experiences of such coerced migrants in various  times and places, focusing on such topics as sustaining everyday life in refugee camps and in resettlement, gendered persecution (such as intimate partner violence, forced marriage, or rape) in asylum cases, gendered treatment of refugees, gendered effects of refugee and asylum policies, the gendered discourse of refugees and asylum, gendered forms of resilience and creativity,  the intersection of gender/race/culture/ability and sexuality and historic and ongoing inequity as a factor in forced migration. We especially welcome proposals that cross boundaries, creatively re-think the nature and format of presentations, and include presenters from beyond the confines of academia.

Track Chairs:

 11. Women, Gender and Religion

The twenty-first century has seen a revival of religion as a marker of gender difference in many parts of the globe.  Religious concepts and practices continue to be invoked to strengthen hierarchies, enforce conformity, and deny fundamental rights.  In light of those developments, submissions to Difficult Conversations on women, gender, and religion, are invited to reassess historical scholarship of the past decades that revealed competing theologies, and to question how, at this stage in history, scholars and activists may effectively advance more nuanced understandings of faith, religious systems, and the values associated with them.  Of particular interest are questions of gendered agency and authority in religion; religious “tradition” and identity; and the interplay between religion and sexuality.

Track Chairs:

  12. Performance Studies and Visual Culture

This track explores the ways in which performance and visual culture can create, interrogate, and reshape the meanings and representations of gender, sexuality, race, class, ability and other categories of identification.  Papers and presenters from any discipline that seeks to theorize and understand historical and contemporary modes of embodiment, agency, representation, and resistance are encouraged. Proposals may also incorporate short performances as a means of enhancing audience engagement with central questions about agency, representation and creation.  Presentations might use performance as an organizing framework for considering a wide range of gendered practices and relationships, including but not limited to: museums and memorials; landscapes and the built environment; food and consumption; technology and digital media; nationalism, totalitarianism, repression, and revolution; theatre and creative practices, literary production, and censorship.

Track Chairs:

13. Politics and Popular Culture

The relationship between politics and popular culture is key to understanding women, gender, and sexualities across historical eras.  We invite submissions that critically engage the history of popular culture in any time period and locale.  Popular culture history has emerged as a vibrant field that yields new ways to study the intersections of race, gender, class, sexuality, and (dis)ability.  Submitters can take up a number of issues ranging from how and why popular culture is central to the quotidian experiences of people around the globe to its role in the shifting paradigms of feminism, body politics, critical race theory, trans studies, imperialism, transnational studies, and reproductive justice.  By centering on forms of popular cultural expression, including film, music, sports, dance, fashion, print media, social media, this track seeks to bring a diverse group of scholars, cultural producers, and practitioners into conversation with one another.

Track Chairs:

14. Work Cultures/Work Realities: The Academy and Beyond

This track seeks individual papers, panels, or roundtable sessions on issues or themes relevant to the work we (broadly defined) do. We hope to generate informed conversation about pedagogy, but also working conditions—for those working in any capacity in higher educational institutions as well as those in other settings.  Given the service burdens in the academy that fall particularly heavily on women and people of color, how do we see that such contributions are valued?  Do we need to redefine teaching and service as intellectual endeavors?  Is it necessary to change dominant understandings of scholarship?  How would we set about doing these tasks?  These issues are particularly timely given attacks on university employees and the questions raised by politicians, parents, and students about the “value” or “utility” of history?  They are also important in light of those scholars, including public historians, public intellectuals, and digital humanists whose contributions often cannot be measured by “traditional” categories.  Other difficult conversations are to be had on how historians in various settings (schools, universities, non-profits, for-hire) can work together? We also seek to address how scholarship and work are married beyond the academy.  Can one still be a historian and work, for example, in non-academic settings.  What does it mean to be an Alt-Ac, public historian or history informed activist in 2017?

Track Chairs:

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V.   Session Formats

 Individual papers — We invite submissions by individuals (not as part of a pre-formed session). The 250-word abstract for an individual paper must explain the presentation’s purpose, methodology, sources, argument and specific contribution to scholarship in the field.  Proposed papers must be submitted to one track.  The Program Committee will assign accepted proposals to traditional panels, lightening sessions, workshops, or any of the other kinds of sessions included at the conference.

Traditional panels — Traditional panels may consist of either three 20-minute papers and a chair/comment, OR three 15-minute papers, a chair, and a commenter. The chair’s role is to introduce the papers, while the respondent’s is to provide 10 to 15 minutes of commentary on the papers. Presenters will be held to stated time limits by the chair to ensure time for at least a 30-minute question-and-answer period. All panel proposals must include a chairperson (who may also serve as respondent). All panel organizers must submit a 250-word session abstract that describes the overall questions and goals of the session, as well as abstracts for each paper in the session. Paper abstracts (no more than 250 words), written by the individual scholars and submitted by the session organizer, should explain the presentation’s argument and specific contribution to scholarship in the field.

“Lightning” sessions — Lightning Sessions are an opportunity for five to seven scholars to deliver very short presentations of their work (about five minutes each in length) followed by a ten to fifteen minute comment pulling together the themes of the session. This format is ideal if a group wants to explore a range of perspectives on an issue, get a broad sense of the state of the field on a topic, or offer several different answers to a larger question or problem. Lightning session organizers must submit a 250-word session abstract that describes the overall questions and goals of the session, as well as abstracts for each paper in the session. Paper abstracts (no more than 250 words), written by the individual presenters and submitted by the session organizer, should explain the presentation’s argument and specific contribution to scholarship in the field. Organizers may include a commentator or moderator. Otherwise the Program Committee will appoint a moderator.

Roundtable Discussions — Roundtables are structured discussions revolving around field specific themes and questions; the session consists of three to five discussants and a moderator, who takes an active role in the session. The roundtable is not a forum for the presentation of short papers; discussants may not read papers and may prepare no more than 3-5 minute responses to the questions being discussed.  The purpose of this format is discussion and interchange among a group of scholars about a debate, question, or issue in the field.  Participants will speak to each other rather than from a podium. The moderator will pose the questions and control the time given to each discussant to respond. After everyone on the panel has spoken and engaged with other panelists, the moderator will open the discussion up for participation by audience members. Abstracts of 250 words should be submitted for these sessions along with the names of the moderator and discussants along with a short, one page, resume or biographical statement for each which outlines their particular connection or interest in the subject.

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Conversations between historians and activists around particular issues- to be moderated by activists  — We strongly encourage submission of sessions whose content, tone and structure are designed and controlled by activist leaders and organizations. The point of these sessions is to encourage new kinds of conversations between historians and activists that serve the goals and styles of various political movements. Example: A session on women and the workers’ center movement, run by workers’ center organizers, attended by activists, historians and teachers interested in labor issues.  Abstracts of 250 words should be submitted for these sessions along with the names of participants and a short, one page, resume or biographical statement for each.  Activists need only pay a 1 day registration fee for the Berkshire Conference.

Workshops — These are panels in which the papers are pre-circulated. They must be completed and posted online by April 1, 2017 and all panelists (and possibly audience members) will read the papers in advance. Workshops may include up to 7 participants and a commentator. Panelists’ 5-7 minute presentations will highlight key questions or problems in their papers. Commentators address each paper and talk about common themes for 10-15 minutes. Panelists engage in back-and-forth discussion with audience members and other panelists about their work. All panel organizers must submit a 250-word session abstract that describes the overall questions and goals of the session, as well a 250-word abstract for each paper in the session. The paper abstracts, written by the individual scholars and submitted by the session organizer, should explain the presentation’s methodology, sources, argument and specific contribution to scholarship in the field.

Digital and Traditional Posters — Intended to allow historians to present their data and discuss their research in a more informal setting. They can use illustrative materials placed on a board, or via a computer or digital format.  We encourage individual submissions for this kind of exhibit. Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words.

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The Berkshire Conference and Digital Humanities Workshop — The Berkshire Conference and Digital Humanities Workshop aims to be a hands-on, interactive session in which individual scholars or teams of scholars can demonstrate their digital Women’s/Genders/Sexualities History (WGSH) projects and interact informally with conference attendees. Projects may include research and teaching tools, or born-digital scholarly works of particular interest to WGSH History professors and students. This workshop will take place on Thursday morning before the Conference officially begins.  Proposals follow the same format as for other individual presentations, i.e.: a 250-word abstract describing the purpose of the presentation, its use of the digital medium, and its specific contribution to WGSH scholarship, research, or pedagogy.  Participation in this pre Conference workshop does not preclude presenting DH work as part of another session during the remainder of the conference.

Performance/Analysis: Artist/Scholar Collaboration — The Berkshire Conference welcomes proposals of dramatic and musical performances, readings, and artistic presentations, to be followed by scholarly discussion with the performer/artist. The purpose of these sessions is to integrate the arts into the conference daytime program, and build connections between performers and the scholars studying their work.  Artists need only pay the 1 day registration fee for the Berkshire Conference. Session organizers should submit an abstract which describes the performance, includes a brief bio of the artist(s), names of commentators, and the perspective they will bring to the discussion. We welcome musical or theatrical performances, poetry readings, and the like. The performance/reading should last no longer than 40 minutes, with the remainder of the time dedicated to discussion. Please note that the Berkshire Conference can provide basic audio-visual equipment for these sessions (microphone, LCD projector, etc.) but cannot provide lighting, extra sound systems, or exhibit space.

On-site themed film series — The Berkshire Conference invites filmmakers to screen films related to the conference themes during the conference.  Filmmakers should submit an abstract of no more than 250 words describing their film. In addition they should be prepared to provide a 5 to 10 minute clip of the film if requested by the Program Committee.   Filmmakers need only pay a one day registration fee for the Berkshire Conference.

Birds of a Feather sessions — Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF) Sessions provide an environment for colleagues with similar interests to meet for informal discussion. Proposers of BOF sessions should serve as discussion leaders only. BOFs are not intended to be presentations. BOF submissions should include a title, 250 word abstract, an explanation of expected audience/participants and names of proposed discussion leaders.

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VI. Instructions for Submitting a Proposal

We invite proposals for critical analyses of themes, topics, problems, or issues arising from original research, teaching and/or activism and other work. There are two ways to submit a proposal:

1) as part of a pre-formed session (panel, roundtable, lightning session, workshop);

2) individually (if accepted, to be placed in a panel by the Track Chairs).

Be forewarned that the Program Committee reserves the right to rearrange panels.

Do’s and Don’ts

You may participate up to two times in the conference in two different roles (e.g., present a paper in one panel, serve as respondent on another). We have made this policy in order to ensure the widest amount of participation in the conference; please do not agree to participate in more than two sessions. You may not chair a session in which you are presenting a paper, nor may you submit more than one paper proposal.

The Program Committee strongly encourages session organizers to create panels with diverse institutional and professional representation (i.e. no more than two participants from the same institution, mix of junior and senior scholars, as well as public historians, performers and activists whenever possible, no all student panels).  Graduate students organizing sessions are encouraged to invite at least one senior scholar—defined as a tenured professor, an independent scholar with equivalent accomplishments in the field, or an academic professional, i.e. curator, archivist, librarian—to participate, either as a paper presenter, discussant, or respondent. Please be aware, though, that senior scholars may not sit on a panel with more than two of her/his current or recent students.
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VII.  Online Submission of Proposals


All proposals must be submitted online via the BC website no later than February 5, 2016, 11:59 EST (the deadline has been extended from January 15, 2016). There are no exceptions to this procedure, and it applies to individual paper proposals, full session proposals, and proposals for other formats. You must use the self-contained, complete, and secure process directly linked to the BC website. Proposals submitted by any other means or emailed directly to Track Chairs will not be evaluated.

When submitting your online proposal, you will need to identify a presentation mode or format and a theme track (see part IV, Themed Tracks, and part V, Session Formats) in which you choose to have your proposal considered. You may submit your proposal to one theme track only. However, Track Chairs will work to place worthy proposals in appropriate divisions if such proposals cannot be placed in the division to which they were submitted. Please contact Track Chairs or the Program Co-Chairs with any preliminary questions regarding the best placement of your proposal.

Once in the submission system: If you encounter technical problems or have questions about the submission system click on the “Help” feature on the Submission Control Panel.

Abstract and CV

The core of the proposal is a 250-word abstract, which is to be entered, or cut and pasted, directly on the web. Please exercise great care in formulating and editing your abstract. Submitters may not change the paper title or abstract after the submission deadline.  Do not forget to include a short (no more than 1 page) CV for each participant in a panel or session.

Individual Paper Proposal

Those who are submitting a paper individually (not as part of pre-formed sessions) are required to submit a 250-word abstract, in addition to a short, 1 page CV. The abstract for an individual paper must explain the presentation’s purpose, methodology, sources, argument and specific contribution to scholarship in the field. In composing your abstract please bear in mind the time allotted for your presentation (15 minutes for a paper in a standard panel). The Division Chairs and the Program Committee will assign accepted proposals to a session.


You must complete the entire online sequence in order for the BC office to receive your proposal. Confirmation of your proposal’s receipt will be sent to your email address.  If you do not receive the submission confirmation, your proposal may not have reached the BC office. In this case, please follow up with the BC office to confirm receipt. Please submit your proposal in a timely fashion as the website for submitting proposals will close 11:59, February 5th, 2016.
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VIII. Notification

The BC office will notify you of decisions by email in August 2016. Other than the email acknowledgment at the end of the online proposal process, there will be no other acknowledgment of receipt before August 2016.  In your acceptance letter you will be asked to join the Berkshire Conference and pre-register to confirm that you are accepting our invitation to participate in the conference.  You must do this by the date indicated in the letter or you will be dropped from the program.
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IX.  Proposals from Professionals Outside the Academy

The BC welcomes participants who are not scholars but whose work is germane to the Conference theme and whose participation would enhance the annual meeting. The BC will waive the membership fee requirement for a limited number of session participants who are not academics or who would not otherwise become members of the BC (e.g., journalists, authors, filmmakers, etc.), and whose participation is considered essential for the integrity of the session to which s/he was invited. Requests for fee waiver should be submitted by the session organizer to the BC at Please put “Fee Waiver Request” in the subject line. In the text of your message, please explain the session that you are organizing, the role of the proposed participant, and why her/his role is so important to the session. Anyone receiving a membership-dues waiver will still be expected to pay the conference registration fee (at the member rate) if they intend to attend and participate for the duration of the conference, or at the day rate for the day of their session if they plan only to attend for their session.
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X.  The Evaluation Process

The Program Committee is a diverse group of approximately eighty-six scholars who volunteer countless hours to develop, shape and plan the numerous sessions and events that comprise the tri-annual Berkshire conference.  Reflecting our desire to diversify and make the conference more inclusive we have, for the 2017 Berks, developed fourteen thematic tracks and added a number of new forms of presentation.  A sub-committee of four to six members for each Track will read and evaluate the proposals submitted under each track theme.  To ensure a broad representation of time-periods, regions and disciplines under each track, each sub-committee also comprises a diverse group of scholars.

Criteria for Proposals:

The program committee will give preference to proposals that most strongly engage the thematic concerns explained in the track descriptions and reflect the goals of this conference.

  • Proposal submissions must clearly demonstrate how the topic under consideration contributes to or advances the selected theme track.
  • Strong consideration will be given to panel, workshop and seminar proposals that are interdisciplinary, transnational, or cross historical time periods, and that mix scholars, performers and activists.
  • Proposals for traditional panels, workshops, themed seminars, ‘lightning’ sessions and roundtables must meet the minimum number of participants for that presentation format.
  • As much as possible the program committee will try to respect the vision of the panel organizer, however the committee may have to alter or restructure panels.

Proposal Review:

Proposals will first be sent for review to the Track Chairs. The Track Chairs, who are experts in the field, are appointed by the Co-Chairs for Program. Track Chairs will be aided by sub committees of 4 to 5 additional experts in the field to evaluate proposals, for both individual presentations and pre-formed panels, on the basis of the above criteria, plus contribution to the field, originality, methodology, and clarity of expression. When evaluating an individual proposal, chairs will recommend either acceptance or rejection. If recommending acceptance, they will then try to place the proposal in a session with other individual submissions. Track Chairs also evaluate session proposals and make recommendations for acceptance or rejection.

Track Chairs will then rank order the sessions that have been recommended for acceptance. This includes both pre-formed sessions and sessions the chairs formed out of individual papers submitted. The entire Program Committee meets in late May 2016 to review recommendations and make final decisions.

The Program Committee takes into consideration topics covered by all the Tracks, as well as the limitations of time and space. Taking into account the entire gamut of proposed papers and sessions across tracks, the Program Committee attempts to find a place for individual papers that the Division Chairs accepted but could not place into sessions.

Please Note: Members of the Berkshire Conference executive committee and staff (i.e. Secretary and Treasurer and graduate assistants) do not make acceptance/rejection decisions regarding proposals but serve as liaisons between the Program Committee and applicants regarding the status of their proposals, and ensure that all application requirements (e.g. payment of dues and fees) have been met.
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