October 1, 2016
That’s the deadline for proposals for next year’s Mormon History Association annual conference in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s three weeks away. It is, as they say, looming.
The Call for Papers, which can be read in full here, encourages proposals for papers that explore the conference theme, “Crossing and Dwelling in Mormon History,” a theme that captures well both St. Louis’s history and the history of the Latter-day Saints (in all varieties) in the city.
I know what some of you are thinking. “Hmm, I’d really like to submit a proposal, but I’m unsure if my paper idea really fits that theme?” That’s ok. The Call for Papers specifies: “Although the program committee is especially interested in papers that address the theme, all proposals will be considered.”
The Call for Papers also states: “A strong preference will be given to proposals for complete panels, meaning a chair, three presenters, and a commentator.” I know what others are thinking. “I’m new to the MHA community. I can’t think of two other people researching a similar topic to mine, or someone knowledgeable in the subject area who can serve as a commentator.” Again, it’s not the end of the world. Saying that the program committee has a strong preference for something doesn’t mean that individual proposals won’t be considered. It just means that the committee strongly prefers the former. That’s because the committee is made up of volunteers. They won’t get paid for the time they’ll put in (around demanding jobs, family life, and other responsibilities) over the coming months to evaluate each proposal and put the program together. Having served on the 2015 program committee for the conference in Provo, I can attest to this.
I also have experience on the other side of the equation. Back in 2004, I submitted my first proposal to MHA. It was a solo proposal, largely because I didn’t feel like I knew enough people to put together a complete panel. Luckily, the proposal was accepted and I had a great experience in Vermont the next year. However, a few years later, I tried my luck again by submitting another solo proposal. That time, I wasn’t so lucky, and my proposal was turned down. The rejection hurt and I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone.
To help you avoid that fate, this thread is intended to facilitate networking for MHA proposals over the next three weeks. Feel free to post a comment summarizing your paper idea. Hopefully, someone else with a similar idea will read your comment and then you can get in touch to develop a complete proposal. The JI moderators will help exchange emails.