Votes for All?: Suffrage and the 15th and 19th Amendments

Robert Shelton's picture
Call for Papers
October 8, 2020 to October 10, 2020
Ohio, United States
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, American History / Studies, Ethnic History / Studies, Political History / Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Deadline Extended for Paper Submisions!

The History Department, Black Studies, and Women's and Gender Studies at Cleveland State University invite proposals for an interdisciplinary conference on voting rights in the United States scheduled for 8-10 October 2020 at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio, or, if necessary, online via Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate, or other to-be-determined tools.

The year 2020 marks the 150th and 100th anniversaries of the ratification of the 15th and 19th amendments, which prohibited voting discrimination based on race and sex. These amendments resulted from  monumental shifts in political and social history and from years of struggle by Americans who demanded full citizenship and equality and will be justly commemorated and celebrated.  This anniversary, however, offers a special opportunity for conversation and consideration of the their impact, their limitations, and the continuing struggle to both suppress and protect voting rights in this election year. 

We invite scholars to submit 500-word abstracts for individual papers and panels on such questions as: What did the struggle for and against suffrage and the social change it represented look like on the ground level? How have ideas of citizenship and voting intersected with race, class, gender, immigration, and "legitimate," documentable nationality. What was the relationship between the Fifteenth and the Nineteenth Amendments and what social, political, and cultural forces shaped the years between the passage of both? How inclusive was access to suffrage under the Nineteenth Amendment? Did both amendments expand suffrage … or only offer a circumscribed version of votes for all when considering Jim Crow laws and discriminatory polling practices? Why, for example, was the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its amendations necessary?  How and why have anti-democratic forces worked to suppress the vote and how have Americans responded.  What is the social and cultural significance of such actions? 

The conference features a keynote address by historian Dr. Lisa Tetrault of Carnegie-Mellon University. Organizers encourage broad interpretations of these and other questions centering on suffrage and citizenship, and we invite scholars of a wide range of eras and fields in American history (as well as those who approach the theme of the conference from a transnational perspective) to submit their work.

Submission requirements: 
Individual papers: CV and 500-word proposal. 
Panels: 250-word panel proposal; 500-word proposals for each paper, CVs for each participant. 
Deadline: 15 May 2020.
Submit proposals:

Dr. Denise M. Kohn -
Dr. Robert S. Shelton -

Contact Info: 

Dr. Robert S. Shelton

Cleveland State University


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