CFP: 2023 Great Lakes History Conference: Division and Reaction: Democracy in Peril

Paul Murphy's picture
Call for Papers
June 14, 2023
United States
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, American History / Studies, European History / Studies, Political History / Studies, World History / Studies

The 48th Annual Great Lakes History Conference is pleased to announce an official call for paper, panel, roundtable, and workshop proposals for its annual conference held at GVSU in Grand Rapids, Michigan from October 5th – 7th, 2023.  This year’s conference is sponsored by the University of Michigan at Dearborn and Hope College.  This year’s theme is “Division and Reaction”—during an era when everyday Americans are increasingly worried about the longevity of the Republic and Democracy.  The conference will be open to the public for no fee.

On January 3, 2022, almost one year to the date of the January 6, 2021, assault on the United States Congress, National Public Radio released the results of a national poll conducted among American voters noting that a majority of Americans (6 in 10) believed that American Democracy was in crisis. Just two months prior, activists in Poland, citing recent laws undermining the independence of that country’s judiciary, declared that their nation was no longer a constitutional democracy.  In a September 2022 speech delivered in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, President Joe Biden rallied Americans to defend democracy at home and abroad.  The midterm elections in November seemed to place democracy itself up for the ballot.  Fears about democracy’s fragility and inclusivity, of course, are nothing new and harken back to the failed experiment in ancient Greece.  They do, however, speak to the tumultuous history of democracy and to the myriad and diverse tensions that have imperiled it (at least in the minds of many) throughout history.  The theme of Division and Reaction: Democracy in Peril, speaks broadly to these tensions.  We invite proposals that seek to engage with and highlight the agency of people whose experiences reflect the theme of social divisions and reactions.

Three keynote talks will be hosted on Thursday and Friday nights, and Saturday lunch at GVSU’s downtown campus. 

On Thursday, Pulitzer Prize winner Dr. Heather Ann Thompson, Frank W. Thompson Professor of History and African American studies, will give a presentation entitled “The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Why it Matters Today.”

On Friday, National Book Award winner Dr. Kevin Boyle, William Smith Mason Professor of American History at Northwestern University, will give a presentation entitled “Blood Ties: An Intimate History of Political Violence in Twentieth Century America.”

On Saturday Dr. Randal Maurice Jelks, Professor of African and African American Studies and American Studies at the University of Kansas, will be presenting on “Meditations on Democracy in Black America” and will explicate how “creative maladjustment” is a way for democracies to flourish.

Please submit a 250-word proposal abstract and C.V. to by June 14th, 2023.

Where a complete panel of papers, roundtable, or workshop is proposed, the convener should also include a 250-word abstract of the panel theme.  Individual paper presentations should be planned to last no longer than 20 minutes.

Questions about the conference can be directed to Dr. Joshua Morris ( or Dr. Scott Stabler ( 

Accommodations are available through the Holiday Inn in Downtown Grand Rapids for a preferred rate.  Their information can be accessed here. The hotel is in easy walking distance to the conference.

Further information about the GLHC, including membership and conference registration (when it becomes available) can be found at

Contact Info: 

Dr. Joshua Morris (

Dr. Scott Stabler ( 

Contact Email: