Guest Post: Mary Sanders on the Rocky Mountain Interdisciplinary History Conference

Mary Sanders is a third-year PhD student in history at Oklahoma State University, where she’s focusing in twentieth-century American religious history.  She has an MA in history from the University of Connecticut and a BA in history with a minor in theatre from Oklahoma Baptist University.  She’s a teaching assistant at OSU, an adjunct instructor in freshman composition at Oklahoma Baptist University, an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and a Post-it note addict.  When she’s not buried in schoolwork, you can usually find her taking a Zumba class or relaxing with Smudge, her 6-year old lhasa apso.

 

“Which conferences are you trying to go to this year?”

This is a fairly common question in my department.  Every year at orientation, we hear the same thing from our graduate director: Make sure you’re submitting to conferences!  Get your work out there!  Meet people!  Make connections!  Calls for paper regularly circulate through our email inboxes, and my colleagues and I are fairly routinely checking in with each other about what we’re working on.

If I’m being honest, I really enjoy conferences, and so I’m really glad to see a growing number of small conferences geared towards graduate students.  I recently went to one of these conferences, the Rocky Mountain Interdisciplinary History Conference (RMIHC), sponsored by the University of Colorado—Boulder history department and held on CU’s beautiful campus.  I presented a paper entitled “So What About God? Working Towards a Theological History of the Oklahoma City Bombing,” a new project designed to test-drive some methodological aspects of my dissertation.  I traveled to Boulder with two colleagues from Oklahoma State University (my home institution), one of whom presented his own work and the other of whom came along for moral support.

It was my first time attending the RMIHC, and I was very impressed with this conference.  I was particularly struck with how well the conference was run—it was well-organized, we ran on schedule, and, as far as I could tell, there were no major logistical problems.  One of my favorite parts was the professional development lunch, when we had wide-ranging conversations about oral history methodology and archival research.  Although I unfortunately had to miss one of the afternoon sessions, the papers I did have a chance to see were very interesting.  The conference organizers took the “interdisciplinary” aspect of the conference seriously, and I was privileged to see papers from fellow graduate students in history, religious studies, economics, and American studies.  It was an excellent experience—I left with helpful feedback on my work, and I had a good time.  I’d highly recommend that graduate students in the area consider submitting to this conference next year.

Of course, as I’m writing this, I’m gearing up to head to Gordon College for the Conference on Faith & History meeting later this week.  I’ve been involved with CFH since I was an undergraduate, when we held the 2006 meeting at Oklahoma Baptist University, my alma mater.  I’ve been looking forward to this year’s meeting, partly because I’m excited to see some interesting papers, and partly because…well, let’s face it: I live in Oklahoma, and it was 90 degrees last week.  Fall in New England?  Yes, please!

Hope to see lots of you there!

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