The Graduate Student Lightning Talks (GSLT) are presented each year as a session at the SAH Annual International Conference. These five-minute talks provide graduate students with the opportunity to introduce new and original architectural history research in various stages of progress. Prior to the conference, student speakers participate in virtual workshops where they test their ideas, refine their thoughts, and enhance their presentation skills among a supportive circle of empathetic peers and senior scholars. The Lightning Talks provide students with a unique and in-depth professional development experience.

View the 2024 Graduate Student Lightning Talks schedule


The Graduate Student Advisory Committee, made up of elected graduate students in conversation with SAH leadership, organizes the Talks along with volunteer co-chairs each year. Together they review the submitted abstracts and CVs, and select presenters based on the quality of their work, research methodologies, diversity of interests and backgrounds, as well as their interest in participating in SAH activities. The group selects participants, typically 13–15 graduate students, who are then organized in thematic groups with designated co-chairs.

Since the condensed format of the Lightning Talks makes offering and receiving feedback to presenters a bit complicated, the organizers have introduced virtual workshops to connect panel participants with their more established counterparts and receive in-depth feedback on their research and presentations prior to the annual conference. Presenters have the opportunity to receive significant feedback directly from faculty mentors at the workshops as well as the opportunity to learn from listening to and participating in the discussions in other thematic groups. Faculty mentors and students develop robust intellectual rapport and reconnect once again during the actual conference panel.

In addition to working with co-chairs, faculty mentors, and peers to prepare their presentations for the SAH Annual International Conference, graduate students become more aware of different institutional networks and intellectual approaches to architectural history. In 2021, Lightning Talks participants connected at a virtual happy hour, where they were able to discuss their favorite conference experiences and plan future collaborations. Panel organizers are hopeful the Lightning Talks can continue to facilitate a kind of network of cohorts, or former presenters who stay in touch and keep each other updated on their research activities through their participation in the Talks.