Another Year with the Graduate Student Lightning Talks!

May 13, 2021 by Aslihan Gunhan, Leslie Lodwick, and Vyta Pivo

The Graduate Student Lightning Talks have been welcoming master’s and PhD students to present their ongoing research at the SAH Annual International Conference through quick, 5–7-minute presentations for years. But unlike the more familiar structure of a conventional conference panel, the Talks are a bit more opaque. This is due to the fact that they are not solely a panel, but also an opportunity for graduate students to build community. Indeed, we welcome participants from art history, American Studies, and other programs that are not necessarily centered solely on architectural history. The Lightning Talks are one way for the graduate students, from many fields and disciplines, to come together, exchange ideas, and share our work and build a community through SAH.

GSLT workshop
"Global Modernisms" Graduate Student Lightning Talk Workshop

So, who organizes the Talks and how are they set up? 

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.

What are the Lightning Talks workshops?

Since the condensed format of the Lightning Talks makes offering and receiving feedback to presenters a bit complicated, the organizers have this year 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. This past year, we held four sessions, focusing on a broad range of themes. Presenters had 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 developed robust intellectual rapport and then reconnected once again during the actual conference panel.

Read about the 2021 workshops

What else do graduate students gain from participating in the Lightning Talks?

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.

If you want to partake in the Graduate Student Lightning Talks, make sure you submit your abstract and CV through the SAH portal by the deadline, June 2, 2021.


"Politics of Historic Preservation" Graduate Student Lightning Talk Workshop


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