Programme: Rethinking Modern British Studies

Chris Moores

Chris Moores

We are delighted to announce the programme for the Rethinking Modern British Studies Conference that we will be hosting between the 1-3 July.

The full programme is now available to view on the conference pages of our blog, and information about travel, accommodation and accessibility is available. Registration is now open via the University shop, and will remain open until 30 May.

We will be charging a small fee for the event (£15 day rate and £45 for the whole three days), which covers the costs of lunch and drinks over the three days. The charge helps us make the conference entirely free for students, those on part-time or temporary contracts and the unwaged.

As we assembled the programme, we were struck by the number of fantastic proposals from academics at many different stages of their careers. It became rapidly apparent that we needed to extend the time and space available to accommodate as many proposals as possible as well as finding time for our plenary speakers – James Vernon, Deborah Cohen, Stephen Brooke, Seth Koven and Catherine Hall – to contribute. This meant we added an extra afternoon to the conference and expanded the number of panel session beyond our initial expectations.

One of the bigger ideas behind the creation of Modern British Studies at Birmingham was that we could build on existing conversations about the British past and, hopefully, provide a forum for some new ones. History is a collaborative practice – we all build on the work of many different scholars and rely on continuing coversations within and beyond the discipline. It is in this spirit that we planned this conference.

© Brian Clift via Wikimedia Commons -

© Brian Clift via Wikimedia Commons

We set out an intellectual agenda in our collaborative working paper which aimed to help us think together about how we could bring our divergent research interests in synch and to set some serious intellectual challenges for the Modern British Studies staff and students here. The conference is an attempt to look beyond our own campus.

We have not tried to be prescriptive or programmatic about our plans. How could we be, when we do not always agree amongst ourselves? It will probably not surprise anyone to know that attempts to find shared ground has at times been a source of some sharp arguments and quite a lot of gentle bickering between us here. Even so, it has already been hugely productive to think about the connections and disconnections between our work and some of the questions that allow us to join up constructively.

Our Working Paper set out some of the ideas behind the centre and we have also been lucky enough to explore these further in our teaching, in our connections with the city of Birmingham and with our community of PG students, many of who have written for our blog over the past year. This latter group’s own Working Paper was a robust reminder of the different challenges facing new generations of historians. We anticipate hearing more about this during the conference and at a Pre-Conference Postgraduate and Early Career Workshop (more information to appear later) on the 1 July.

Scanning the programme I am struck by the same thoughts that I had when planning our MA programmes and thinking about our plans for Working Papers; that there is a vibrant and dynamic field of scholars determined to examine nineteenth and twentieth century Britain and we are very fortunate to have so many speakers interested in joining us.

We very much look forward to hosting you all at the start of July.

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