Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Call for Papers: Automotive History Conference, April 14-16, 2016 Cleveland, Ohio

                            AUTOMOTIVE HISTORY CONFERENCE

The Society of Automotive Historians is seeking proposals for papers to be presented at its Eleventh Biennial Automotive History Conference to be held in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, from April 14 through 16, 2016.  The conference will take place at the Cleveland Airport Marriott Hotel, 4277 West 150th Street, where a block of guest rooms has been reserved.  

The conference theme is “Automotive History: Beginnings and New Beginnings” and will focus on the first steps of the nascent motor industry and the later worldwide assimilation of the motor vehicle as a national icon seen in contrast to the revolutionary events of the early twenty-first century.  Cleveland has been chosen as conference venue because of its important position in the development of the American industry.  It was the home of early producers such as Winton, White, Peerless and Stearns and now boasts an important collection of turn-of-the century cars as well as an archive of related documents at the Crawford Auto Museum at the Western Reserve Historical Society.

Papers may address the beginnings of the automotive industry, the role of independent foundries, machine shops and carriage builders enabling the rapid growth of thinly-financed manufacturers followed by the early consolidation of the industry into a small number of major producers and their efforts to secure control of equipment suppliers and set up financial subsidiaries to facilitate sales.  The rise of national industries offering vehicles designed, built and sold to reflect local preferences was a parallel development.  Over the past quarter century these former certainties have been overturned.  The industry, until recently believed to be entering a phase of business consolidation, has expanded to embrace many new producers, a process that could only have been made possible through innovations in production technology and international trade agreements.  Meanwhile the automobile itself has become a standardized product, some would say ‘mature’, wherever it is produced or sold.  

It is our intention to examine the history of the motor vehicle throughout its brief but turbulent period of growth and with reference to its future prospects.  Proposals for papers on automotive subjects unrelated to the conference theme will also be considered.  Following the presentations we will tour some of the surviving sites of Cleveland automotive history and conclude with a visit to the Crawford Auto Museum where the curator, Derek Moore, will accompany us.

Two keynote speakers will share their understanding of these trends.  James Rubenstein, Professor of Geography at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, where he lectures on the Geography of the Auto Industry and serves as an industry consultant at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.  His ground-breaking book, Making and Selling Cars: Innovation and Change in the U.S. Automotive Industry, was among the first to explore the impact of recent trends.

Our second keynote speaker will be Bernard J. Golias, automotive historian and longtime Cleveland resident.  He is co-author of Famous But Forgotten, the definitive history of the Winton Motor Carriage Company and its successors, and will speak about the beginnings of the industry in Cleveland at the time when it was thought that this city might become the home of the American industry.

Following the conference, a certain number of the conference papers will be selected for publication in Automotive History Review, the journal of the Society.

The Society of Automotive Historians is a unique interdisciplinary organization devoted to all aspects of automotive history – engineering, design, economics, the lives of automotive pioneers and innovators, the history of motorsport competition, the integration of motor vehicles into modern life and the culture of cars.  In its publications and conferences, historians of technology, business historians and social historians interact to share their knowledge and perspectives.         

Proposals should include the title of the submission, names and affiliations of presenters, chairs, participants, etc., together with addresses, phone/fax numbers, email addresses of contact personnel, proposed format (paper, panel, workshop, etc.) and a one-page abstract describing the content of the presentation.  Proposals must be received by October 31, 2015; notification of preliminary acceptance is anticipated by November 30.  Proposals should be submitted by email to Arthur W. Jones, Conference Chair,

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