Propose a Session for THATCamp SBL & AAR 2016

Unsure about how to submit a session proposal or what you should submit or when? The following frequently asked questions are answered below. Just click the question to display the answer.

How do You Propose a Session?

Once you register for THATCamp SBL & AAR, go to the "Propose Session" page (this page) and fill out the "Submit a Session Proposal" form to propose your session. Once received, your session proposal will be added to the “Sessions” page on this site and everyone will be able to read the proposal before the unconference. The morning of the unconference, all THATCamp participants will vote on those proposals (and probably come up with several new ones), and then the unconference organizers will arrange the sessions into a schedule based on interest, number of votes, and if the session requires audio/visual equipment. Remember that you will be expected to facilitate the sessions you propose. This does not mean you have to be an expert, but you will have to facilitate the session. See below about facilitating a session.

If, for whatever reason, the proposal submission form fails to work for you, please email us the proposal at Please be aware that submitting a proposal via email may delay its availability on this website.

What should I propose?

Sessions at THATCamp usually range from general discussions (Talk sessions) to project-based hackathons or writeathons (Make sessions) to technology skills workshops (Teach sessions) to miscellaneous experiments (Play sessions). There should be no full-blown papers; we’re not here to read or be read to. To get some ideas, you can see last year's proposals. You can also see a list of sample sessions at for ideas, or come up with a creative idea of your own for a session genre or topic. Ideally, you should come to THATCamp with something in mind, and on the first day find a time, a place, and people to share it with.

How Do You Facilitate a Session?

When you propose a session and it is voted onto the schedule, you will be expected to facilitate the session. If you propose a hacking session, you should have the germ of a project to work on. If you propose a workshop, you should be prepared to teach it or find a teacher beforehand. If you propose a discussion of, you should be prepared to summarize the topic, begin the discussion, keep the discussion going, and end the discussion when time is up. The goal of the session is to have everyone participate. Your role as facilitator is to ensure the session stays on track and ends on time.

When To Propose A Session?

You can propose a session as early as you like. In fact, the sooner the better. It’s also a good idea to check the THATCamp site frequently in the week beforehand to see session proposals made just before the event. You can also come up with a last-minute idea and propose it to the THATCamp participants during the scheduling session, right before voting, which is the first session of the THATCamp.

Why are sessions proposed this way?

Proposing sessions just before a THATCamp and building a schedule during the first session of a THATCamp ensures that sessions are honest and informal, that session topics are current and of interest to the actual participants, and that unconference participants will collaborate on the day’s sessions. Tom Scheinfeldt adds:

Everyone should feel equally free to participate and everyone should let everyone else feel equally free to participate. You are not students and professors, management and staff here at THATCamp. At most conferences, the game we play is one in which I, the speaker, try desperately to prove to you how smart I am, and you, the audience member, tries desperately in the question and answer period to show how stupid I am by comparison. Not here. At THATCamp we’re here to be supportive of one another as we all struggle with the challenges and opportunities of incorporating technology in our work, departments, disciplines, and humanist missions.

See “What is an Unconference?” below for more of the philosophy upon which THATCamp is based.

What is an Unconference?

The shortest answer is this: an unconference is a highly informal conference. Two differences are particularly notable. First, at an unconference, the program isn’t set beforehand: it’s created on the first day with the help of all the participants rather than beforehand by a program committee. Second, at an unconference, there are no presentations — all participants in an unconference are expected to talk and work with fellow participants in every session. An unconference is to a conference what a seminar is to a lecture; going to an unconference is like being a member of an improv troupe where going to a conference is (mostly) like being a member of an audience. Unconferences are also free or cheap and open to all. For more information, see Wikipedia’s entry on the unconference.

Submit a Session Proposal

Fill out the form below to submit a proposal.

You can also use this form to submit a comment about a proposal. Please be clear about which proposal you are commenting.


The following companies help
make THATCamp SBL & AAR possible.

  • Walter de Gruyter GmbH
  • ExperimentalHumanities@Iliff