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From the 2009 Annual Meeting column of the January 2008 issue of Perspectives on History

Session Types at the Annual Meeting

AHA Staff, January 2008

Proposals should be designated in one of the following session types. In order to encourage discussion and exchange at the meeting, the Program Committee will give priority to sessions that foster discussion and discourages the practice of reading papers. To assure substantial time for interaction between speakers and audience, all panels are limited to a maximum of five participants serving as speakers or commentators.

A. Discussions/Roundtables: The roundtable or the discussion format—which can be used for the presentation of original research, work-in-progress, or discussion of professional concerns—offers short 10-minute presentations, a fluid organization (not limited to the chair/presenter/commentator structure), and ample time for discussion with the audience. Roundtables differ from discussions in that the former take place in a non-podium setting (with the audience gathered around the panel) to facilitate a more congenial exchange between audience and discussants.

B. Experimental sessions: This format is intended to allow members to organize a panel using novel forms of presentation (in terms of organization or content), which are not covered by the other session types. Members who would like to organize such panels are welcome to do so, provided they clearly explain the form and content of their panels, their ability to engage and connect with an audience of their peers, and the potential costs involved.

C. Formal sessions: The formal session is organized around a chair and a commentator, with two or three presenters speaking for 15 minutes. While this has been the standard form, the Association encourages the informal presentation of research, instead of the rote reading of papers.

D. Poster sessions: Poster sessions allow historians to present their data and discuss their research with colleagues in a less formal setting, using illustrative materials placed on a board. Poster sessions allow for the presentation of professional issues, original research, or work in progress through posted visual materials—such as pictures, photographs, and text—displayed on bulletin boards. Posters are the only exception to the bar on submission of solo presentations.

E. Precirculated presentations: Sessions using this format are organized around presentations (papers or other online presentations, such as PowerPoint presentations) made available in advance, to allow for minimal presentations and more time for active and engaged discussion of the findings. Organizers needs to submit precirculated presentations for web posting by December 1st prior to the meeting.

F. Practicum session: A practicum is a session in which members can learn or develop practical skills. A practicum is ideal for demonstrating the use of new or innovative tools for the classroom or for research.

G. Workshop: Workshops consist of multiple sessions on a common theme, possibly using a variety of the session types described above. Ideally, this should provide the opportunity for a more focused discussion in which participants bring a common level of knowledge or skill to bear on a subject, typically toward some practical end (e.g., developing a work-in-progress or new professional skills). These sessions require pre-approval by the Program Committee. Preliminary proposals, summarizing the broad topic and outlining sessions and session types, are due by December 15. The deadline for specific information on participants and session topics will be the same as the other sessions.

Extracted from the Annual Meeting Guidelines.