Propose a Session

How do I propose a session?

All THATCamp CAA attendees are active participants in setting the agenda.

After the completion of your registration, you will be expected to contribute to this page and to the discussions that follow. This will jump-start programming and provide a forum for proposing and honing session topics with colleagues.

Please propose sessions below. The emphasis on the sessions at our THATCamp – and all THATCamps – shouldn’t be on speakers or presentations or papers. Instead, the event should be PARTICIPATORY and spontaneous (most sessions are group discussions, productive co-working sessions, or joyous collaborations of any kind). There should be few if any prepared, monologuing presentations, papers, or demonstrations with the exception of skills training workshops, and even workshops should generally allow for hands-on exercises by the group.

Remember that you will be expected to facilitate the sessions you propose, so that 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; if you propose a discussion of the Digital Public Library of America, you should be prepared to summarize what that is, begin the discussion, keep the discussion going, and end the discussion.

Why are sessions proposed this way?
Proposing sessions before a THATCamp and building a schedule in advance ensures that session topics are current, and that unconference participants will collaborate on a shared task. An unconference, in Tom Scheinfeldt’s words, is fun, productive, and collegial, and at THATCamp, therefore, “We’re not here to listen and be listened to. We’re here to work, to participate actively. We’re here to get stuff done.”

Listen further:

“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 the About page for more information on the philosophy of unconferences.

When do I propose a session?

Anytime – now is great! You can propose a session any time, but get involved in the discussion as early as possible to you can workshop, refine, hone, and have dialogue around your idea with others who will attend the CAA THATCamp so you can gauge interest and get others on board. Collaboration is encouraged.

We’ll confirm all sessions in the first hour of the conference when we set the agenda collaboratively. If your session doesn’t run for any reason, you can still participate by attending the two THATCamp sessions. If you want to propose a session “on the spot” on the day, there will also be room for this too (look out for “Dork Shorts” on the schedule).

Here are the kinds of sessions people generally propose at THATCamp:

General discussion
Sometimes people just want to get together and talk informally, with no agenda, about something they’re all interested in. Propose a session on a topic that interests you, and if other people are interested, they’ll show up to talk about it with you.

Writing session
A group of people get together to start writing something. Writing can be collaborative or parallel: everyone can work together or by themselves to write an article, a manifesto, a book, a blog post, or a plan.

Working session
You’re working on something (a website, visualization, digital publication, etc.), and you suspect that other participants might be able to help you with it. You describe problems you want solved and questions you want answered. This is not an hour-long demo; you should come with specific questions or tasks you want the group to help you with.

Grab bag
Indefinable by definition.


  • To add a new session proposal, leave a message in the text box below
  • To leave a comment or ask a question about a proposal already listed, hit “reply”

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