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2017 Call for Papers


2017 OHA Annual Meeting
October 4-7, 2017
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hilton Minneapolis Hotel

Engaging Audiences: Oral History and the Public


The Oral History Association invites proposals for papers and presentations for its 2017 annual meeting to be held October 4-7, 2017 at the Hilton Minneapolis Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Oral histories, from their initial creation, address real and perceived audiences.  Narrators reflect on their past experiences in dialogue with their interviewers; they do so while recording equipment documents these stories for future listeners that neither participant in the interview process can fully imagine.  Nonetheless, the narrators and interviewers seek to actively engage and manage these audiences through the questions they ask, the narratives they tell, the release and consent forms they sign, and the interpretations and products they create.  Archivists seek to preserve and provide access to oral histories for unknown future audiences, and the decisions they make have significant consequence in determining who will be able to encounter these transcripts and recordings. Envisioning their own audiences, cultural producers utilize a wide range of media formats to present oral histories to a broader public, including but not limited to exhibits, audio and visual documentaries, performances, websites, books, and scholarly publications. Activists draw upon oral histories and testimonies in hopes of mobilizing people in communities. Scholars use them to produce knowledge. Teachers make use of oral histories with the intent of reaching and educating the students in their classrooms. And audiences, across all these spectrums, encounter oral histories through their own experiences, worldviews, and interpretive lenses.

How do these real and imagined audiences impact the work we do and the choices we make as oral historians? How do new methods of dissemination to audiences–podcasts, digital humanities, apps–shape our assumptions, our research, our interpretations, our project designs, and our daily work? What is the place for print as we disseminate our oral history work in the future?  Are there creative new ways to integrate oral histories into museum exhibitions and theatrical productions?  How can oral historians contribute to a national and international discussion about the importance of communicating and connecting with new audiences?  What can we do to better evaluate how audiences engage with oral history?

Oral historians throughout Minnesota have a long and proud tradition of utilizing oral history in creative ways to reach out to a variety of audiences, whether in their museums, schools and universities, public art installations, theater performances, or public dialogues.  The site of rapid demographic change over the last twenty years, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul have grappled with major social, political, and cultural shifts, making the need to understand history and its relationship to the present highly visible in many arenas.  With their top-notch museums, historic sites, institutions of higher education, and engaged and active citizenry, the Twin Cities offer us an excellent site for our conference.

The Program Committee welcomes broad and diverse interpretations of the conference theme.  We especially encourage presenters to think about innovative delivery models including dramatic performance, interactive sessions, and use of digital media.  We welcome proposals from academics, independent scholars, archivists, librarians, museum curators, web designers, public historians, educators, media artists, filmmakers, journalists, social justice activists, community organizers, playwrights, performers, storytellers, and all people working in oral history’s continuum of practice.

We hope to have a significant international presence at the meeting. If accepted, international presenters may apply for partial scholarships, made available by OHA in support of international presentations. Small scholarships are also available for accepted presenters and others who attend the meeting.


Proposal format:

The submission site for the 2017 meeting is closed.

Proposal queries may be directed to:

Dan Kerr, 2017 Program Co-chair
Public History Program
American University
email: ude.n1638799299acire1638799299ma@rr1638799299ek1638799299

Rachel F. Seidman, 2017 Program Co-chair
Southern Oral History Program
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
email: ude.c1638799299nu@na1638799299mdies1638799299.lehc1638799299ar1638799299

Todd Moye, 2016-2017 OHA Vice-President
UNT Oral History Program
University of North Texas
email: ude.t1638799299nu@ey1638799299om1638799299


For submission inquiries or more information, contact:

Oral History Association, Georgia State University,ude.u1638799299sg@ah1638799299o1638799299, Telephone:  (404) 413-5751