The Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium, inaugurated in 2020, is an annual symposium hosted by Johns Hopkins University to provide a national platform for undergraduates in the humanities to share their work.

Johns Hopkins University has long been a hub of humanities research and innovation. We are proud to welcome students from across the country to become a part of this rich history.

The 2024 Macksey Symposium will be held from March 21-23, 2024, on the Johns Hopkins University Homewood Campus in Baltimore, Maryland.

How to apply

We welcome applications from undergraduates currently enrolled at any two- or four-year college or university. To apply, submit an abstract of your presentation to the application portal by December 8, 2023.

Conference presentations will be a maximum of ten minutes long and may consist of reading a paper (approximately 1,200-1,500 words) or presenting a PowerPoint slideshow. We are excited to showcase undergraduate students’ research across the humanities and in a variety of formats.

Research subjects

  • Classics
  • English
  • History 
  • History of Art 
  • History of Science or Medicine 
  • Modern Language and Literatures (French, German, Japanese, Spanish, etc.) 
  • Media Studies 
  • Philosophy 
  • Religious Studies 
  • Humanities tracks within interdisciplinary programs (e.g., East Asian Studies, American Studies, Gender Studies, etc.) 


The deadline to submit an abstract is December 8, 2023.

Notification of acceptance will be made in January 2024.

Abstract-writing tips 

The purpose of the abstract is to give the symposium organizers a clear and concise understanding of your project, so that they can judge whether your presentation is a good fit for the conference and, if so, how you should be grouped with other presenters. 

As the brief guide below indicates, there is a general pattern that is often very effective for establishing why your audience should care about your paper. First, you establish what the conventional wisdom is about your subject—what “they” say—and then you contrast it with what “you” say that moves the field forward. 

What to cover

  • Start with the current state of knowledge — what does the audience in the field know about your topic? 
  • Show what you know is different, and demonstrate how this paper is going to change or expand our understanding of your topic.
  • Give your methodology — what/how/why — to show that the conclusions will be rigorous. 
  • End with a hypothesis or conclusion, depending on the stage of your research, and what you expect to find. 

Writing an abstract can feel intimidating, but remember that the Macksey Symposium welcomes participants with little previous conference experience. As long as you do good work and describe it clearly, you will receive full and careful consideration for your project.