From the 2011 Annual Meeting column of the September 2009 issue of Perspectives on History

"History, Society, and the Sacred": Theme for the 2011 Annual Meeting

Michael H. Fisher and Barbara H. Rosenwein, September 2009

The 2011 annual meeting convenes in Boston, a location redolent of numerous sacred sites and practices: churches of many denominations, patriotic landmarks, memories of witch trials. Our program’s theme, “History, Society, and the Sacred,” calls for papers that consider the many ways in which society and the sacred have converged and diverged and to trace those connections and disconnections over time. It invites presenters to consider the topic with all the interdisciplinary tools available to scholars today, to bring history, geography, archaeology, anthropology, literature, and many other fields into fruitful conversation.

The term “sacred” points to domains of life, spaces, thoughts, and practices that—in every time and place—have the charged meaning of the numinous. The word “society” calls attention to the lived context in which the sacred takes on meaning—where it is fostered, contested, elaborated, and rejected, whether by specialists or “laypeople.” “History” reminds us that both the sacred and society change over time. It invites us to consider as well the historiography of the subject—how historians and other scholars have approached the social side of the sacred and the sacred side of the social.

The Program Committee seeks panels exploring such issues as the history of piety and impiety, death and burial, material relics and immaterial mysticism, and religious thought and sentiment across all places and times. We invite comparative analyses of sacred spaces and their meanings. We welcome sessions that consider how the sacred has (and has not) been located in the human, the dead, nature, the state, memorials, churches, and gods. We encourage panelists to interrogate the nature of the sacred and its relationship to society, power structures, economic institutions, class, gender, and race. In short, “History, Society, and the Sacred” invites explorations both microhistorical and on a grand scale.

What Is Needed for Submitting a Proposal

Before going online, session organizers should collect the following information, which will be needed to submit a complete proposal:

  • Session title (of no more than 20 words

  • Session abstract (up to 500 words)

  • Paper or presentation titles

  • Abstract or description for each presentation (up to 300 words)

  • Biographical paragraph or a summary c.v. (up to 250 words) for each participant

  • Correct mailing and e-mail address for each participant

  • Chair (required) and commentator (optional) for the session; the same person cannot be both chair and commentator for a session

  • Audiovisual needs, if any

Organizers submitting poster proposals will need:

  • Poster title

  • Poster abstract (up to 500 words)

  • Biographical paragraph or c.v. summary (up to 250 words)

To help members find sessions of interest, the online program for the 2011 annual meeting will include links to the abstracts for sessions and presentations entered into the electronic proposal system.

Abstracts will be published as submitted to the Program Committee; individuals will not have the opportunity to edit abstracts after the February 15 proposal deadline. Please enter and review the information with that in mind.
For detailed instructions and advice about using the online proposal system, consult the “Instructions for Submission of Proposals” available online at www.historians.org/annual/2007/proposalFAQ.cfm.