13th Annual History Graduate Student Conference

Constructing History Through the Prism of Perspective, Identity, and Memory
April 9, 2020 - Virtual Conference

History casts a long shadow over current social and political movements, placing historians in the crosshairs of ideological contestations. The construction of History—rooted in authors' academic, cultural, geographic or political backgrounds—is inescapably subjective, but how does this diversity shape narratives and discourses within the field of academic history? And how does the creation of historical memory through the prism of authors' identities affect its interpretation within a polarized political and social environment? This year's annual conference invites scholars and graduate students to question how constructing history and preserving memory through historians' diverse backgrounds and identities shape the field of history and its reception by wider or multidisciplinary audiences.

Keynote Speaker

Michael Vann, Ph.D.
California State University, Sacramento

Professor Michael G. Vann is a historian of modern Southeast Asia currently at California State University, Sacramento. Vann's research interests include Southeast Asian Studies, political violence and terrorism, colonial administration, colonial public health, film and cinema history and cultural and artistic aesthetics of the Cold War. Vann's research and temporal purview extend across mainland and maritime Southeast Asia, ranging from conceptions of sexuality and masculinity in French Indochina to Cold War-era genocide in Cambodia and East Timor. Among his list of academic accomplishments, Vann has won three Fulbright awards; served as a visiting scholar of History and American Studies at Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia; and served as President of the French Colonial Historical Society from 2008 to 2010. Vann has three published books: The Colonial Good Life: A Commentary on André Joyeux's Vision of French Indochina, 20th Century Voices: Selected Readings in World History, and The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empire, Disease and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam.

After presenting his imaginative and impressively unorthodox graphic history, The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt, in front of a packed crowd at an NIU Center for Southeast Asian Studies' brown bag lecture series in 2019, the NIU HGSA is pleased to welcome Professor Vann once more at our 2021 virtual conference. Vann's keynote lecture, centered around the presentation of Cold War-era violence in Southeast Asian museums, is titled Memory Holes and Crocodile Holes: Representing and Silencing Cold War Era Mass Violence in Southeast Asian Museums."

Conference Co-organizers

  • Dan McCoy, vice president, History Graduate Student Association and History Ph.D. student
    Concentration: Diplomatic and political history; Cold War Southeast Asia
  • Isabelle Squires, president, History Graduate Student Association and History Ph.D. student
    Concentration: Cultural History; Ethnic and Gender Identity in Postcolonial Philippines

Call for Papers

Send your paper or panel proposals to niuhistorygsa@gmail.com. The submission deadline is Feb. 12, 2021.

We welcome paper proposals that address any geographical area, time period or field of history.

  • Abstract submissions should not exceed 300 words.
  • Submissions should be clear and concise, articulating the authors'; purpose in writing and connection to the conference theme.
  • Include the name of the author, institutional affiliation and a brief biographical statement indicating academic status, along with a return address, current email, and other pertinent contact information.
  • Panel proposals are encouraged.
    • Include the same information as above along with a brief panel description and title.
  • This will be a synchronous virtual conference.
  • Presentations should run between 15-20 minutes.

Note: All submissions will be accepted as the conference schedule permits.


Since 2009, the Northern Illinois University History Graduate Student Association (HGSA) has sponsored an annual conference for graduate students. In this forum, students from Northern Illinois and other universities can present their original research in a supportive intellectual environment. Typically held in early November, the conference is free and open to the public. Paper submissions must be based on original research. Graduate students in history and other related disciplines are invited to submit proposals. The mission of the History Graduate Student Association (HGSA) is to provide graduate students with opportunities for professional development, foster academic collaboration and promote the discipline of history in a supportive intellectual environment.

Contact Us

Department of History
Zulauf 715
815-753-0131
history@niu.edu

Due to COVID-19, the History Department office in Zulauf 715 is closed. Faculty and staff are all working remotely and can be contacted by email.

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