Mason Researchers Present at the 2022 Virginia Forum Conference

by Catherine Olien

Mason Researchers Present at the 2022 Virginia Forum Conference

On April 9, 2022, a number of Mason scholars presented research at this year's Virginia Forum conference. These included several members of CHR's "NOVA Working Group," dedicated to the complexity of Northern Virginia. The group has been meeting monthly for eight months to explore the region where many of us reside and work.

CHR NOVA Working Group member, Jennifer Ritterhouse (Professor of History and Associate Chair, History and Art History), presented in a roundtable session that offered a retrospective on the work of historian Suzanne Lebsock, who was one of the pioneers of Virginia women’s history.

Another panel of Mason scholars and Working Group members convened a roundtable session titled, "Northern Virginia (or NoVA) as Just “Different”—Or Is It? The Past and the Present."

  • George Oberle (History Librarian; Director, Center for Mason Legacies; Assistant Term Professor, History and Art History) served as the session moderator.
  • Steven Harris-Scott (Assistant Professor of Humanities and History; Affiliate Professor, History and Art History and the Center for Mason Legacies; Interim Associate Academic Director for Faculty Affairs and Strategic Initiatives) gave an overview of the question of whether Northern Virginia is a separate place from the rest of Virginia and if so, how long has it been separate. He also presented brief comments on own research into “northernmost colonial Virginia” and its differences from the rest of colonial Virginia.
  • Sheri Huerta (Adjunct Faculty,History and Art History) gave a paper entitled “Pernicious Sentiments”: Identity through Speech in Virginia’s northern counties, 1830-1860."
  • LaNitra Berger (Senior Director, Office of Fellowships, Office of Undergraduate Education; Associate Director, African and African American Studies) spoke about about the Center for Mason Legacies project Black Lives Next Door.

The above researchers are interested in the question of how Virginia--especially Northern Virginia--has evolved over time, whether it feels "different" from the rest of Virginia, and how different legacies and perceptions of the region might be unearthed and explored.

The NOVA Working Group meets to ask similar questions and is currently forming a public humanities project, "Alienation and Belonging: Shifting Cultural Landscapes of Northern Virginia."

The two venues--Mason and the Virginia Forum--for this type of exploration hope to converge in the coming months (and at next year's Virginia Forum Conference) to continue this important and much neglected conversation.

As a first step, CHR and the Virginia Forum will be hosting a virtual panel in August. Details to follow.



[Steven Harris-Scott, LaNitra Berger, and Sheri Huerta]

More about the Virginia Forum

"The Virginia Forum offers an opportunity for scholars, teachers, writers, museum curators, historic site interpreters, archivists, librarians, and all those interested in Virginia history and culture to share their knowledge, research, and experiences."

Virginia Forum 2022:

"This year’s theme 'History Unmasked' will explore the dual themes of the medical pandemic and social justice. This includes unmasking the history represented by people’s voices, whether they be marginalized voices of the past or resounding voices heard since 2020. The presentations will spark conversations about public commemorations, monumental representations, changing meanings of past and current iconography, the contested interpretations of liberties and justice in Virginia, and how past and present Virginians have experienced or endured medical, social, and racial crises."


[George Oberle]