Writing a Conference Paper

The Congress of Social Sciences and Humanities is over and I'm back into routine again. I had a great time at the conference! I heard some great papers, reconnected with colleagues and friends whom I see only once a year at these things, and I bought a number of new books to read (as if I don't have enough in that stack of "books to read"). I also spent a fair bit of time discussing a collaborative project that a colleague/friend of mine and I are working on. For now though, I've got to concentrate on finishing this conference paper that I'm delivering at the end of June in England.

What is a conference paper and how does it differ from an article? Generally, conference papers are noticeably shorter than an article, mostly because of how little one can actually say in a twenty-minute presentation. A conference, as I said in my previous post, is the perfect place to present one's initial findings or conclusions in a project. One can get some great feedback through questions or comments that can be incorporated into the larger article when it gets written. Depending on the group, this feedback can be highly specialized. For instance, the conference I'm attending in England this June is the Conference of Quaker Historians and Archivists - a pretty specialized group to be sure! There will be a lot of English and American scholars there (mostly because there are more Quakers in those places so there seem to be more people who study them), but there will not be many Canadians. In fact, I'm one of the few Canadians who specialize in academic studies of Quakers. The paper I'm presenting deals with a Quaker family who came to British North America (the part that eventually became Ontario) from England in 1821 shortly after the Napoleonic Wars. The father of the family was a tanner who had made a lot of money during the wars selling his leather ware like boots and saddles to the British military, but his business collapsed at the end of the war. The Quaker "meeting" (essentially a specific congregation) raised enough money to send the family (husband wife and 11 children) to what became Ontario where they had to begin all over again. Another branch of the family followed a few years later, but they carried on settling in Maryland in the US instead of staying in Canada. All of these folks kept in touch and we have a really cool set of letters and a few diaries from the family that allows me access into the more personal lives of these folks and gives me a window into what historians call "lived experience." So the question that I'm trying to examine, by using this family as a case study, is how did national identities come to supersede religious ones? It would take a long time to explain the entire background of this particular history so I won't even try (you couldn't possibly read a blog that long!), but it's a fascinating family and I've so enjoyed studying them and I think that through studies like these we can come to understand the ways in which tightly knit families or religious groups began to develop identities that were tied to particular expressions of national allegiance. In all this one thing is certain: those Quakers who came from England to Canada found the winters a challenge!

I'll try to write from England while I'm there to share some of my research discoveries and information about the conference so my next entry should be a bit more interesting. Friends tell me London is full of wonderful used-book stores so I will do my level best to restrain myself!

Finally, if you've been following my news about our horses: we've got two new babies of our own! Gracie had a filly on June 4 and Flute had a filly on June 8. They're registered quarter horses, so we don't know the final registration name yet, but we've chosen barn names for both of them. Grace is a virtue, so we've chosen Honor for her filly and Harmony is the name of Flute's filly (all the foals born on the ranch this year will have H names). I've got some photos posted on my Facebook page; you can have a look at them there.



Last updated Jun. 10th, 2008 at 4:25pm by Robynne Healey