Creative Session Formats

The Program Committee encourages proposals for sessions employing interactive and innovative formats.

Some examples of experimental session formats that have worked in the past are listed below. This list is intended to be suggestive rather than comprehensive; the committee welcomes creative ideas.

Organizer should choose the “experimental” or “practicum” option when submitting proposals. The submission form for experimental and practicum sessions includes a number of options for roles beyond chair, comment, and presenter— including facilitator, moderator, workshop leader, or discussion leader. Proposal abstracts should clearly explain the format and goals of the session and how the participants will work together to achieve those goals. Contact if you have questions about the best way to describe the format you have in mind.

  • “Lightning rounds,” a popular format in the digital humanities. Participants deliver two- to five-minute presentations on a project, an idea, a tool or application, or a problem they are trying to resolve. The rest of the session is devoted to a discussion of the ideas presented in the talks.
  • PechaKucha” sessions. Japanese for chit-chat, PechaKucha was originally a way for architects to share their work and hear about the work of others in short visual presentations. Speakers show 20 slides timed to display for 20 seconds each, speaking for a total of six minutes, 40 seconds. This format is particularly appropriate for projects based on visual evidence or material culture.
  • 8–10 minute visual presentations. The short, highly visual presentation are modeled on the TED conference, where presenters give brief illustrated talks designed to be as engaging as possible. A session might comprise five presentations and then 30 minutes for questions.
  • “New Research” sessions—roundtables with five or six participants, each speaking for no more than 10 minutes. Speakers would be graduate students or early-career professionals recruited by a senior scholar who would chair and comment on the session. The idea is to enable emerging scholars to present their work at the meeting without relying on highly specialized formal research sessions. “New Research” sessions should also be of interest to members hoping to learn about recent trends in a particular field. Topics should be broad, analogous to a review essay in a journal.
  • Seminar Sessions: Seminar sessions are submitted to the Program Committee by two or three facilitators, who propose to organize a three-day, intensive discussion on a particular topic. Once seminars are accepted by the Program Committee, they will be listed on the AHA website. 15 to 20 participants will be selected to participate in each seminar for a focused, intensive discussion with their peers over the course of the annual meeting. Seminar participants will pre-circulate documents that will form the basis of the discussion.
  • Variations on the pre-circulated paper format. Presenters post discussion documents online in advance; audience members are encouraged to read them in advance so that the bulk of time at the session is devoted to discussion.
  • Paired teaching and research sessions. A panel on the state of the field in a particular topic, followed by a roundtable discussion of the teaching implications of that research. (Paired sessions should be submitted as multi-session workshops.)
  • Guided discussions. Facilitators invite attendees interested in a particular issue to join them for small group conversation.
  • Digital Sessions. Are there new ideas that draw on the capacities of digital communication? For example sessions that emanate from an online conversation that begins before the conference and continues beyond?