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NACBS 2012 and History Working Papers

Published: August 23, 2012

Dear NACBS Members and Friends,

I'm writing to let you know that the North American Conference on British Studies and History Working Papers (http://www.historyworkingpapers.org) will once again team up to help NACBS conference participants and panels pre-circulate their papers. Already, we have a few panels planning to participate, and we invite you to submit your papers as well.

As you probably know, Tim Hitchcock and I are working together on a digital space that we are calling History Working Papers (HWP). HWP is an online space for scholars to share works-in-progress with their peers. After uploading a conference paper, essay, or article manuscript to the HWP website, authors can invite others to read their work and make comments in the margins. As more people respond, writers get more feedback. But, unlike traditional comments done on paper, HWP allows commenters and authors to interact with each other. They can read each other's marginalia and engage in dialogue about it. In fact, entire threaded discussions can take place in the margins.

NACBS has allowed us to offer HWP to conference panels and participants this year. I am writing to encourage you to take advantage of the system. Not only will it be able to help you generate some pre-conference buzz for your panels, but it is a tool to help you create more informative and useful panels. Here is a short summary of what you can expect from HWP:

HWP will allow you and the people on your NACBS panel to post your conference papers online (either individually or as a whole panel) several weeks before the conference begins. By posting papers ahead of time, HWPP gives conference chairs, panelists, and participants the ability to experiment with alternative approaches to your panels. While panels and individuals can simply use HWP to pre-circulate papers and hold a traditional conference panel, you have the opportunity to be creative and do much more. By integrating an online conversation both before and after the conference, you will find that your panels are much more dynamic.

Here are some ideas on how you can take advantage of HWPP:

1. The most effective way to use HWP is as a whole panel. Chairs should round up participants' papers several weeks before the conference begins and send them to Jason M. Kelly at jaskelly@iupui.edu. Within days, they will be posted to HWPP under the heading for your panel.

2. Chairs should encourage the commentator and one or two other peers to read the papers and put their comments in the margins. They might also consider sending out an announcement about the pre-circulated drafts to H-Albion or NACBS's Facebook page in order get others to read and comment as well. Remember, whether a participant or a peer, it is important for you to ask people to comment. You will be surprised at how many people are willing to participate.

3. Having a panel pre-meeting is a great way to meet each other and discuss some of your papers' ideas. Chairs, commentators, and panelists can meet using Skype, Google+, Adobe Connect or any number of other video conferencing tools.

4. Chairs might consider an alternative format for their NACBS panel. There are a number of format options, from PechaKucha to five-minute papers to short poster sessions. We encourage you to keep talks to a shorter length in order to allow more time for group discussion. Doing this is very effective, and you may be surprised at the improved dynamic and the rich outcomes that emerge. At a recent NACBS panel, for example, the chairs adopted a modified PechaKucha model. Even though there were ten speakers, there was still enough time for an exciting one-hour discussion.

5. Remember, that when the conference is over, HWP will still be available. We encourage you to continue using it as you revise your papers for submission to journals.
The History Working Papers Project is quite an exciting system, as I am sure you will notice. Please visit the site and have a look around (http://www.historyworkingpapers.org). Watch the videos, read the papers, and make comments. There are already papers online so that you can see what papers and comments look like. Be sure to send us any questions you have about the site.

I do hope that you consider using the system for your panel this year. I think it will be a great addition to the NACBS and the way scholars in the humanities approach conference panels and scholarship more generally.

Best wishes,
Jason
-- Jason M. Kelly PhD, FSA
Director, IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute
Associate Professor of British History, IUPUI

IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute
Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
755 W. Michigan Street UL 1140D
Indianapolis, IN 46202-5195

telephone: 317.274.1689
fax: 317.274.1024
email: jaskelly@iupui.edu

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