CALL FOR PROPOSALS
2020 National Humanities Conference
Thursday, November 5, 2020 - Sunday, November 8, 2020
Deadline for submitting proposals: February 21, 2020
The Federation of State Humanities Councils and the National Humanities Alliance are excited to announce the 2020 National Humanities Conference, which will be held in Indianapolis. This annual conference brings together representatives from colleges, universities, state humanities councils, cultural institutions, and other community-based organizations to explore approaches to deepening the public’s engagement with the humanities.
Indianapolis is nicknamed the “Crossroads of America” because of its historic location along the old National Road and current site where four major interstates intersect. The conference convenes days after a presidential election, which like all national elections, is a crossroads, offering the opportunity to reflect on how we have arrived at this point and where we are heading. In this spirit, we invite proposals that explore the generative, exciting possibilities of public humanities work that happens at the crossroads.
Crossroads as decision points. When and how can the humanities and humanities practitioners help communities wrestle with tough choices? What difficult decisions face our own institutions—and how do we decide which way to go? Where have we taken risks, even if we failed—and what did we learn? When we’ve found our organizations at a difficult crossroads, how did we navigate rocky terrain and what happened as a result of our choices?
Crossroads as freedom. There’s a rich tradition of expression that associates crossroads with freedom—a place where multiple opportunities open up in front of you. How can the humanities help communities discuss, even reimagine the meaning of freedom for all? In an increasingly partisan landscape, where should the humanities and humanities practitioners enter such conversations that may have unequal power dynamics?
Crossroads as uncertainty. In many cultures around the world, the crossroads is a liminal, uncertain space that is outside of normal time and space. A place that is neither here nor there, the crossroads and its uncertainty can be part of a process of becoming something new. Are there times in our own practice where we experience uncertainty and disorientation? Are there times when our programs create uncertainty and disorientation among their participants? What, if anything, is generative about doing humanities work where uncertainty is foregrounded?
Crossroads as intersections. When we reframe the crossroads as an intersection, some connotations fall away and others emerge. Interesting, good, complex work happens at the intersection of ideas, disciplines or methods. Are there outstanding models of interdisciplinary public humanities projects we can learn from? Where have unusual partnerships yielded new, urgent, meaningful public humanities work? We’re particularly interested in sessions that help us learn about public humanities initiatives or programs that address the following intersections: STEM/humanities, race/class/gender, arts/humanities, urban/rural, public/private.
We hope these questions are broad enough to spark session proposals that reflect the full range of work humanities organizations, practitioners, and scholars do: create and deliver public programs, form community partnerships, educate students, communicate with and convene publics, advocate for funding, cultivate donors, make grants, and build audiences.
In the spirit of the crossroads—places of coming together and exchange—we especially encourage session proposals that bring together humanities practitioners (state humanities council staff, museum workers, podcast producers, community historians, etc.) and scholars/academics. See examples from the 2019 conference here.
DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING PROPOSALS: February 21st, 2020
To learn more: https://www.nhalliance.org/nhc20_call-for-proposals