In the past two weeks, we have begun to share some of the details of this year’s Convergences conference, including an introduction to our keynote speaker, roundtable, and panels. We have recently published the schedule on our website, which includes the full schedule of panels and abstracts to accompany all presentations. This is a great chance to go take a look at the panels and abstracts and see what piques your interest! Without a doubt, there will something to interest everyone.
Given our theme for this year’s conference, we received submissions that criss-cross time and geographies, and borrow from many diverse methodological approaches. On the one hand, this is incredibly exciting, as it allows us to present a conference that is not overly weighted towards a single regional, time period, or historical practice. On the other hand, having such a variety of accepted submissions proved a worthy challenge for our conference organizers when organizing thematic panels. The panels were created by committee, with our conference organizers coming together one spring afternoon, intent on creating a schedule of panels as exciting and powerful as the individual papers we had to work with.
Rather than focusing panels on geographic or temporal similarities, we tried (whenever possible) to focus on thematic connections, that would provide the presenters the best opportunity for discussion and shared learning in particular thematic areas. Certain panels came together very naturally; April 29th’s “Environmental Crises” panel seemed like a perfect fit to discuss the environment, climate change, and historical responses. Likewise, for April 28th’s panel “Toronto at the Margins” it only made sense to bring together presenters for a discussion of our city’s history, and to consider the relevance of this history for current Torontonians.
Other panels provided a space for thinking more broadly about the connections in the panel submissions and encouraging discussion across temporal and geographic boundaries. Bringing together three distinct methodological/practical discussions in Friday’s “New Historiographical Approaches,” for example, creates a space to discuss the larger questions of our discipline and how we understand and approach crisis as historians. Thursday’s “Confronting Change through the Arts” panel provides three examples, from different time periods and geographies, of the way that artistic production is related to mediating crisis points, and also provides examples of the productive ways historians can consider literary and artistic sources.
After a full afternoon of working together, planning panels, and organizing the conference’s schedules, our conference organizing team was thrilled with how the panels came together. We are proud to share all of these interesting thematic panels with you all! This short post, of course, only discussed a small selection of the wonderful panels we have on offer. I really encourage you to visit our full schedule and peruse the abstracts authors provided for their papers. Our conference committee drew some connections in bringing these panels together, and we are sure there are many more avenues for conversation that will be explored throughout the conference week. We can’t wait to welcome you all to our virtual conference, and begin these discussions!
Hannah Roth Cooley
University of Toronto