Loyola HGSA Hosts 15th Annual History Graduate Student Conference
On November 3, 2018, the Loyola HGSA hosted their 15th Annual History Graduate Student Conference. With over 130 attendees and 15 individual panels, this year’s conference was a great success. For the first time, the conference also featured a lunch panel and networking event focused on career diversity sponsored by the American Historical Association's Career Diversity for Historians Initiative. Thank you to all who participated in the conference and helped to make it a productive and engaging day!
The theme of this year’s conference, Building Bridges, focused on the ways in which history helps us form connections despite the many divisions in our world. The diverse selection of presentations throughout the day broadly demonstrated how the study of the past can often increase understanding and prompt critical conversation today. The day began with a poster session where conference attendees had the chance to engage with graduate and undergraduate poster presenters about their research on topics ranging from “The Secret Language of Medieval Objects” (by Ariel Medoff and Jill Walker, Loyola University Chicago) to “Environmental History Now” (by Elizabeth Hameeteman, Boston University). After the poster session concluded, attendees split between a number of different panels, each featuring history graduate students from across the country. Panels focused on a wide variety of subjects, from “Urban Community Activism in America, 1950s to Present” to “Rules and Rebellions: Pushing the Boundaries of Female Behavior” to “Negotiating Identity and Value: The Many Faces of the Pre-Modern Mediterranean World.”
Of particular interest was the annual Public History Roundtable, which featured four Loyola alumnae currently working the public history field. Drawing on their experiences working in museum and postsecondary settings, the panelists explored the challenges and successes of creating connections between the public and the past. From helping audiences build empathy for historic and contemporary voices, to supporting students in achieving their educational goals, the panel unpacked the big-picture and practical realities of dismantling barriers and buildings bridges. Through a lively discussion and Q&A session, the panelists also helped advise conference attendees on their own issues in the public history field. Panelists included: Courtney Baxter, Education Manager at Peoria Playhouse Children’s Museum; Pam Johnson Davis, Manager of Fellow Support and Persistence at One Goal; Sarah Doherty, Assistant Professor of History at North Park University; and Kelley Szany, Vice President of Education and Exhibitions at Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center. A big congratulations to Public History Roundtable Coordinator Kelly Schmidt for organizing such an engaging and illuminating discussion!
This year also featured two special sessions sponsored by the American Historical Association's Career Diversity for Historians Initiative. The first, a lunch panel entitled “Career Diversity for Historians: What it Means and Why it Matters,” explored the growing movement within the field to better prepare history graduate students for a broad variety of careers both within and outside of academia. Panelists, including Derek Attig (University of Illinois), Angela Schlater (MacArthur Foundation), Emily Swafford (American Historical Association), and Frank Valadez (American Bar Association), considered why it’s important to build bridges between historians and careers outside of the historical discipline. In a spirited discussion with the audience, they also discussed what career diversity meant for the future of the profession, what training for diverse career pathways looks like in the humanities more broadly, and how students can navigate these conversations in their own graduate programs. The AHA also sponsored an end-of-day Networking Reception where conference attendees were able to meet with one another and with historians working in a wide range of careers. The HGSA Conference Committee would like to thank the American Historical Association for their generous support of these valuable events. We also extend our sincere appreciation to Hope Shannon and Tim Herbert, AHA CDIG Fellows, for their crucial roles in planning and executing these events.
Conference Co-Chairs Sean Jacobson and Alexandra Gradwohl would also like to thank Matthew Labbe, volunteer coordinator, and Katherine Macica, program designer, for their critical help in making the conference a success. We thank all Loyola students who volunteered as panel moderators, registration desk staff, and other logistical support, including: Matthew Amyx, Bianca Barcenas, Sophia Dunn Croll, June Coyne, Kristin Jacobsen, Molly Kettler, Ariel Medoff, Bryan Morey, Hannah Overstreet, Angela Rothman, Molly Sampson, Anthony Stamilio, Davis Stubbefield, Austin Sundstrom, Clark Terrill, Jill Walker, and Alicia Zeimet. We would particularly like to thank the HGSA Officers for their support and assistance throughout the planning of the conference: Emily Davis, Cate LiaBraaten, Emily Muszynski, and Anna Claspy. Finally, we thank the the many faculty members from Loyola and University of Illinois at Chicago who volunteered to serve as commentators for the many panels throughout the day: Dr. Theodore Karamanski, Dr. Benjamin Johnson, Dr. Ann Marie Ryan, Dr. Anthony Cardoza, Dr. Elizabeth Fraterrigo, Dr. Kyle Roberts, Dr. Michelle Nickerson, Dr. Edin Hajdarpasic, Dr. Elizabeth Shermer, Dr. Robert Johnston, Dr. Elizabeth Hemenway, and Dr. John Abbott. We extend a special thank you to the HGSA Faculty Advisor, Dr. Patricia Mooney-Melvin, who provided invaluable advice and support throughout the conference planning process.