Call for Papers


87th Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History
“Turning the Tide: Revolutionary Moments in Military History”
May 20-23, 2021

The Society for Military History is pleased to announce a call for papers for its 87th Annual Meeting, hosted by the Joint Advanced Warfighting School in Norfolk, Virginia.

For the 2021 meeting, the Program Committee will consider paper and panel proposals on all aspects of military history, especially encouraging submissions that reflect on this year’s theme: Turning the Tide: Revolutionary Moments in Military History.

We invite submissions that describe the revolutionary moments of military history: the flashpoints that changed the course of the wars we study, how societies prepared to fight them, or how we understand them. The Program Committee will favor panels that emphasize those points of inflection when the course of military history pivoted in a profoundly new direction, especially in ways that had an impact lasting for generations or lifetimes. Submissions that focus on other topics, however, will also be entertained by the Program Committee.

Submissions of pre-organized panels and roundtables are strongly encouraged and will be given preference in the selection process. Panel and paper proposals will clearly explain their topics and questions in ways that will be understandable to the broad membership of the SMH, not only to those interested in the specific topics in question. Additionally, the SMH encourages the representation of the full diversity of its membership and especially values panel and roundtable proposals that reflect the organization’s diversity of institutional affiliations, various career paths and ranks, gender, race, and ethnicity.

Proposals are welcome for complete panels, roundtables, and individual papers. Curriculum vitae with institutional affiliation, email address, and other contact information are required for all presenters, including panel chairs and commentators. They should not contain personal information, since CVs may be linked to the conference program on the mobile app.

  • Panel proposals must include a panel title and 300-word abstract summarizing the theme of the panel; paper title and a 300-word abstract for each paper proposed; and a one-page professional curriculum vitae for each panelist (including the chair and commentator). 
  • Roundtable proposals must include a roundtable title, a 300-word abstract summarizing the roundtable’s themes and points of discussion, and a one-page curriculum vitae for each participant (including the moderator, if any).
  • Individual paper proposals are also welcome and must include a paper title, 300-word abstract of the paper, and one-page vita with contact information and email address. If accepted, individual papers will be assigned by the program committee to an appropriate panel with a chair and commentator.

Individual presenters searching for other presenters from which to create a panel should use the Panel Builder link on this website.

Presenters previously accepted for the canceled SMH 2020 conference should resubmit their panels or papers via this year’s submission portal. The Program Committee will accept these papers without adjudication. Ensure you check the box marked “SMH 2020 Presenter”.

Those who wish to volunteer to serve as chairs and commentators should notify the Program Committee Chair,, and include a one-page curriculum vitae with their message. Please include “SMH 2021 Voluntary Chair/Commentator” in the subject line.

Proposals will be judged according to the following criteria:
  • Proposal explains the topic, research questions, methodologies, and historiographic significance to specialists and non-specialists alike can understand or explains how the panel will be of value to a range of SMH members teaching military history courses. (10 points)
  • Proposal presents new findings or revisions of long-held interpretations. (10 points)
  • Proposal addresses the conference theme. (5 points)
  • Proposal reflects the SMH’s diversity of institutional affiliations, various career paths and ranks, gender, race, and ethnicity. (Does not apply to individual submissions) (Does not apply to individual submissions) (5 points)
Participants may present one paper, serve on a roundtable, or provide panel comments. They generally may not fill more than one of these roles during the conference, with the following exceptions:
  • Members who act as panel chairs may deliver a paper, serve on a roundtable, or offer comments in another session.
  • Members who serve as both the chair and commentator of a single session generally may not present in another session.
  • These restrictions do not apply to members invited to participate in Presidential and Vice Presidential sessions.
  • Members resubmitting an accepted proposal from the cancelled 2020 meeting may attach themselves to new proposals in roles that would normally violate this guidance with the understanding that the Program Committee retains the prerogative of granting or denying exceptions at its discretion.

All submissions will be made through the 2021 SMH Submission Portal at  One person will need to gather all required information for panel and roundtable submissions and enter the information in the portal.  Individual paper and submissions can be made by the individual concerned. For questions about the submission process, contact the chair of the program committee, Please include “SMH 2021 Submissions Question” in the subject line.

To encourage proposals for in-person and online presentations, the submission window will remain open at least through March 2021. The Program Committee will evaluate proposals as they arrive and notify presenters of their status on a monthly basis beginning 1 December.All accepted presenters, chairs, and commentators must be members of the Society for Military History by 15 April 2021, to remain on the conference program. A Young Scholars call for papers (for BA and MA students) will be circulated at a later date (about 1 Dec 2020) and remain open through March 2021, at a minimum.

Sponsored panels on select military history topics related to the Hampton Roads area (e.g., Douglas MacArthur, military innovation/experimentation; the use of animals in war or the evolution of naval ship building) are encouraged. Check the 2021 SMH website periodically for additional sponsored panels.

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