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August 29, 2019 at 12:45 pm

History Graduate Conference Brings Together Interdisciplinary Array of Research

The History Graduate Student Association hosted the 14th Annual History Graduate Student Conference at Ohio University in March 2019.

College of Arts & Sciences Department of History artwork with civil war cannonThe program combined a keynote lecture by Dr. Ilana Feldman (Professor of Anthropology, History, and International Affairs at George Washington University) with 10 thematic panels showcasing some of the cutting-edge, in-progress historical work of graduate students in a variety of disciplines from multiple universities. Ohio University faculty served as discussants on each of the panels. The conference was free to participate in as well as to attend.

“It is very productive for graduate students who have not presented at a conference yet, or who would like feedback on a paper before they present it at a larger conference or submit for publication,” said President of History Graduate Student Association and History Ph.D. student James J. Fisher, explaining the importance of continuing to organize the conference.

“This year, we made an effort to broaden the conference and make it more interdisciplinary. It allowed graduate students from the discipline of history to interact with students in other fields, therefore expanding the range of questions posed and methodologies pursued. Making the conference interdisciplinary was a priority for myself and for our Vice President, Sana Saidykhan, as we both do interdisciplinary work and see the numerous benefits in doing so,” Fisher added.

As History graduate student Jordan Zdinak put it, “Participating in the HGSA Conference allowed me to work on my public speaking skills and have a chance to present my research in a comfortable environment.”

Lassane Oudraogo, a Media Studies Ph.D. candidate, notes how “the OHIO History graduate student conference is a growing annual academic platform where both novice and advanced graduate students and seasoned scholars engage in various interdisciplinary conversations.” He considers himself “fortunate enough” to have presented in the past three iterations of the conference. Oudraogo in particular “appreciated that faculty discussants read papers in advance and provided productive feedback.”

Beyond the presenters themselves, the annual conference attracts a range of attendees. Some had presented in past iterations of the conference, and others sought out the opportunity to hear about and learn from the research of their fellow graduate students.

History Ph.D. candidate Heather Salazar remembers “very vividly how nervous and intimidated I was to give my first conference presentation as an M.A. student at a national conference.” She wishes she had something like the History Graduate Conference to acclimate her to presenting in front of people and receiving feedback. According to Salazar, “the small nature of this conference provides students with a great opportunity to present in front of their peers without the intimidation like I had.”

For Media Studies graduate student Kutlwano Mokgwathi, “It was interesting to learn about the various research approaches that the panelists took in their research.” She was intrigued by the interdisciplinary nature of the conference as a whole, and hope that it continues reaching out to graduate students outside of the History Department.”

The 14th Annual History Graduate Student Conference is co-sponsored by the History Graduate Student Association (HGSA), History Department, Contemporary History Institute, Center for International Studies, War & Peace Theme, African Studies, the Middle East and North Africa Studies Certificate, African Student Union, and Society for Military History.

For more on the 2019 History Graduate Student Conference, read the conference program.

For more on the History Graduate Student Association (HGSA), contact their elected officers.

For more on the History Department and its graduate program, visit the department webpage.

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