NIU 12th Annual History Graduate Student Conference

Individuals to Empires: Historical Scale in Method and Practice

Historians make choices about the scale of their inquiry. We set parameters for our writing – temporal, geographical, archival, or other – which shape research strategies, influence potential audiences, and guide historical analysis and argumentation. Do you write history on a grand or intimate scale? Or both?

Call for Papers

Send paper or panel proposals to

Deadline: September 15, 2019

We welcome paper proposals that address any geographical area, time period or field of history. We encourage all submissions to critically consider the scale of your original research. Whether you shape your work around representative or obscure individuals or the movements of society, culture or politics through viewing empire, we want to foster a critical discussion of historical approach by considering the scale of analysis.

 Conference Schedule

8:45 AM

Opening Remarks

The Conference Organizer will begin the day by expounding on the conference theme and provide administrative details for the day.

9:00-10:15 AM


Session 1

Room Locations and Panel Descriptions TBD

10:30-11:45 AM

Session 2

Room Locations and Panel Descriptions TBD

Noon - 1:15 PM


Lunch will be served in the Thurgood Marshall Gallery

1:30-2:30 PM

Keynote Address

"Telling the Story of the Greater United States“

Dr. Daniel Immerwahr, author of How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States, and Associate Professor of History at Northwestern University.

2:45 – 4:15 PM

Session 3

Room Locations and Panel Descriptions TBD

4:30-5:30 PM

Faculty Roundtable

Our keynote speaker and selected members of NIU’s history faculty will discuss methodology in historical writing and current trends in their fields.

5:30-6:30 PM


Light refreshments will be served in the Thurgood Marshall Gallery

Conference Organizer; Vice-President, History Graduate Student Association

Megan VanGorder

PhD student specializing in nineteenth century American social and cultural studies. For my master's thesis, I investigated Civil War grief in Old Northwest communities, particularly focusing on Lincoln's connection to Bloomington, Illinois. Since at NIU, I have been focused on the Sanitary Commission’s work in Illinois during the War, asking questions of its nationalizing project within the state, medical authority, and the growing professionalization of women in medicine and humanitarianism.

President, History Graduate Student Association

Alex Craver

PhD student focused on the Soviet Union and its environmental, technological, and industrial history. My current project is an examination of the Soviet Rubber Industry, both in the strange and different ways the Soviet Union sought to produce synthetic rubber, and the groups, organizations, and individuals who participated in the rapid process of researching, creating, and selling "socialist rubber." My previous research has been on American-Soviet business relations during the 1920s and the social construction of Soviet industrial machinery in the 1930s.

November 1, 2019
9:00 AM – 5:30 PM

Swen Parson Hall
350 Normal Road
DeKalb, Illinois 60115

Keynote Speaker

Daniel Immerwahr, Ph.D.

Northwestern University

A scholar of U.S. and global history, specializing in empire, development, and the history of ideas. Immerwahr is the author of two books, Thinking Small (Harvard): A critical account of grassroots foreign aid. Winner of the Merle Curti Award in intellectual history and the Society for U.S. Intellectual History's book prize.

His most recent book, How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States (FSG), was released in February 2019 and has earned overwhelmingly positive reviews.

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

Northern Illinois University
Department of History
Zulauf 715
DeKalb, IL 60115
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