The Secret/Lost History of Indiana: A Symposium

deadline for submissions: 
May 31, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Platform: An Arts & Humanities Research Laboratory at Indiana University Bloomington
contact email: 

Indiana University Bloomington is pleased to announce a call for papers for “The Lost/Secret Histories of Indiana: A Symposium,” the inaugural conference dedicated to exploring and celebrating the Hoosier state. It will be held November 20-23, 2019, in Bloomington, Indiana.

Indiana has long been seen as a No Place, an endless flat landscape that exists a little out of time. Here, we seek to lift up Indiana and her diverse people, and shine a light on those things we’ve forgotten as a state. Born out of a grant-funded research team, “The Lost/Secret Histories of Indiana” intends to expand on the questions that have arisen in our conversations. We will be featuring performances and artistic installations alongside more traditional academic presentations.

The planning committee is currently accepting proposals for individual papers and panel discussions. Anything Indiana goes, but we’re thinking especially about lost and secret histories. Come tell tales on this state of ours. Topics to consider are: 

  • Race – Like many (all) of these united states, Indiana has a history of racial inequality and violence, one that extends from the early treatment of Native people through the waves of immigration and settlement that continue today. It is also the setting for many different kinds of community and different models of belonging and acceptance. Come help us explore both sides of this complex dynamic.  
  • The Rural – So much of our state is still rural space, invisible and foreign to many of us. Traditional research questions, methods, and deliverables often do not apply here, because the needs of the populations are vastly different. Are you researching rural and/or underrepresented Indiana populations? Tell us about it.
  • Imaginary Indiana – We tell ourselves a lot of things about Indiana that aren’t true. What do our imaginary versions of Indiana offer us? What if we wrestled with Actual Indiana instead? Art and literature created in and about our state allows us to envision alternative versions of the state; how have these versions altered our reality, our perception?
  • The Midwest – An oft-used term, what does it mean to be bounded in this part of the country? What makes us different (and what doesn’t)? Is there something aside from location that makes Indiana a part of the Midwest? Are there concerns here that are distinct from the rest of the country, or is that a false way of setting ourselves apart from places we feel we don’t belong (or don’t want to belong)?
  • Labor – The history of labor in Indiana is one of shifts and upheavals, from agrarianism and artisan crafting to big industry, much of which is now fleeing the state or shifting to automation. Tell us about workers and workers’ movements, unions and union busting, the local labor force and the international labor force that makes a home in our state.
  • Methodology – Is there something unique about how we study the place we live? What is the relationship between the scholar and the region where the scholarship takes place? How do we engage in acts of memory and forgetting, under the auspices of study and scholarship?


Of note: we are not wed to the traditional model of presenting a paper or a book chapter or giving a lecture. If you want to lead a conversation, build a temporary installation, or guide a walking tour around Bloomington, we see the academic merit in those things. Write a proposal and tell us why. Research should be collaborative and inclusive and interesting. The presentation of it should allow for a moment of discovery and delight.

We celebrate humanities and the scholars working in those fields. We are also interested in researchers from fields who may not traditionally consider themselves as belonging to humanities, like anthropology and public health. Outside perspectives can often give us a clearer view of ourselves.

Proposal should include the following: the author’s name, rank, and academic affiliation (when applicable); a complete cv or resume; and a titled abstract of 250-500 words. The deadline for submissions is May 31, 2019, and should be sent to