At This Year’s SHOT Conference

Beatty ThumbnailThis blog post was written by Humanities PhD student Joel Beatty.

I am happy to report that I just returned from the annual conference for the Society for the History of Technology in Dearborn, MI. Our fellow RTC PhD candidate, Jessica Lauer, presented a paper, “A Hard Nut to Crack: Material Consciousness and the Nutcracker”, while I presented my paper titled: “Color, Culture, and Technology: A History of Indeterminacy.”

Michigan Tech was well represented at the SHOT conference with four faculty members and three graduate students attending in total (Dr. Steve Walton, Dr. Fred Quivik, Dr. Hugh Gorman, and PhD Student John Baeten from Social Sciences, and Dr. Bruce Seeley, Dean of Arts and Sciences).

Overall, the SHOT conference was a wonderful intellectual and career shaping experience. The conference venue was split between The Henry Autograph Hotel, The University of Michigan-Dearborn and The Henry Ford Museum, which added to the unique feel of this gathering. As a first timer to the conference, I was pleasantly surprised by what can be described as an invitational attitude towards graduate student members of SHOT. The society’s officers and the conference organizers go out of their way to seek new historical perspectives and graduate student researchers into the history of technology field. As a presenter, grad students are placed into a panel mixed established professors and other graduate students, and each panel is assigned an experienced commenter to facilitate discussion and synthesize all the presentations. Also, I was impressed by the  submission process to the conference, which required an acceptance of a proposal and then a draft of a conference paper submitted one month in advance of the conference. This process produces highly focused presentations and dynamic discussions, with some of the sessions lasting a full two hours in length. Beyond the presentations, graduate students are warmly welcome to special interest group luncheons within the society and made to feel welcome at all the conference mixers, banquets ect. The end result, for me, was a very positive experience and a more focused perspective on my research stemming from long discussions with detailed oriented historians.

I highly recommend grad students from the RTC program joining the Society for the History of Technology, and submitting a proposal to present. The perspectives we learn in this program on rhetoric, science, technology, culture and diversity in general are highly valued by historians, and the networks and relationships I have developed being part of this conference have been helpful for my academic interests and hold a lot of potential for the future.

Cheers, Joel Beatty

SHOT Website:

SHOT Annual Conference website:


Conference Mixer at the Henry Ford Museum


Plenary Speaker Dr. David Nye