Bertoti Conference

The Brian Bertoti Innovative Perspectives in History Graduate Research Conference

Since 1998 HGSA has organized a conference annually for graduates students in history from VT and from other MA and PhD programs. Our conference is an opportunity to share graduate research projects in a supportive, professional environment, and a chance to network with your future colleagues

The conference is named after a former student who sparked interest among his peers to create a venue for public presentation of student research. Brian Bertoti died before planning for the first conference was completed. The conference name acknowledges his interest in studying the past and his commitment to sharing that study with others.

The conference is a major undertaking and all HGSA members play a role – hosting invited keynote speakers; inviting papers and creating conference panels; attending to local arrangements; advertising the events; and soliciting funds to cover conference expenses.


Our 20th Anniversary Conference:  March 30-31, 2018

The 21st Annual Brian Bertoti Innovative Perspectives in History Graduate Conference will be March 30 and 31, 2018.

Proposals due January 10, 2018

The History Graduate Student Association at Virginia Tech invites proposals for papers to be presented at the 21st Annual Brian Bertoti Innovative Perspectives in History Graduate Conference. This interdisciplinary conference will be held at the Virginia Tech Graduate Life Center in Blacksburg, VA on March 30-31, 2018. A one-page abstract and a short vita should be submitted by January 10, 2018. Please send to: Ellen Boggs at vthgsa@gmail.com

Our conference is an opportunity to share graduate research projects in a supportive, professional environment, and a chance to network with your future colleagues. Our conference values interdisciplinary approaches to the past, and we invite proposals from historians and graduate students in related disciplines whose work represents “innovative perspectives in history.” Papers on any aspect of history, time period, or world region are welcome.

Brian Bertoti Award

Each year, HGSA acknowledges the best paper presented at the conference with the Brian Bertoti Award for Outstanding Historical Scholarship. To be considered for this award, participants must submit their paper at presentation length (roughly 10 pages) to the Awards Committee by February 27, 2018. The paper selected for the best paper prize will represent exemplary scholarship, innovative methods, and unique perspectives in the historical discipline.  

International Scholar Award

This year, we are introducing the International Scholar Award that will be offered to two graduate students studying at universities outside of the United States. These awards will provide up to $500 per student, distributed in the form of reimbursements following the conference, to be used on travel to the US and lodging while in Blacksburg. Award recipients will also be provided with three meals during their time at the conference. Interested applicants should send in all other required materials, as well as a two-page essay addressing the following questions:

Where does your particular project fit within the larger context of historical research? What do you believe is the significance of your project? Why do you believe your project qualifies as an “innovative perspective in history”?

All applications should be sent to Ellen Boggs at vthgsa@gmail.com by January 10, 2018 along with presentation abstracts. Applicants will be informed of our decision by February 1, 2018.

Conference Speakers

Jonathan W. White, historian of the American Civil War with a focus on Abraham Lincoln, U.S. constitutional history, and the history of treason, will present our keynote address on Friday titled “Civil War Monuments.” Dr. White is a professor of American Studies at Christopher Newport University and a senior fellow with the Center for American Studies. He received his BA in History at Pennsylvania State University and his MA and PhD degrees from the University of Maryland at College Park. Dr. White has published numerous articles in a range of magazines, journals, and periodicals, including Civil War History, the Journal of the Civil War Era, the Journal of Supreme Court History, Military Images, Perspectives on History, the New York Times “Disunion” blog, the American Scholar, and Time. His most recent book, “Our Little Monitor:” The Greatest Invention of the Civil War, which he co-authored with Anna Gibson Holloway, came out October 15, 2017.

Amanda E. Herbert, the Assistant Director at the Folger Institute of the Folger Shakespeare Library, will present the luncheon address. She holds MA and PhD degrees in History from Johns Hopkins University, and completed her BA with Distinction in History and Germanics at the University of Washington. She is co-editor of The Recipes Project and co-director of the multi-year, $1.5 million research project, Before Farm to Table: Early Modern Foodways and Cultures, a Mellon Initiative in Collaborative Research at the Folger Institute of the Folger Shakespeare Library. Dr. Herbert’s research focuses on the history of the body: gender and sexuality, medicine and health, athleticism and fitness, food and drink. Her first book, Female Alliances: Gender, Identity, and Friendship in Early Modern Britain (Yale, 2014), received the Best Book Award from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women. She is currently at work on her second book project, Water Works: Faith, Public Health, and Medicine at the British Spa. Dr. Herbert’s recent research for this book is the topic of her talk, “Stewing Alive: Spa Medicine in the British Atlantic World,” which explores colonial health, travel, and medicine in the eighteenth century.

Click here to download the Call For Papers.
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