'Contemporary British History Now' Conference

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King's College Londonb


Anatomy Lecture Theatre



United Kingdom

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What is Contemporary British History Now?

Keynote speaker: Professor Patrick Wright, FBA, Professor of Literature and Visual & Material Culture, Department of English, King’s College London

This conference launches King’s Contemporary British History (KCBH), a cross-departmental interdisciplinary research initiative at King’s College London, which will seek to set new agendas in the field. As the inaugural KCBH event, this day will break the traditional conference format by revisiting major debates and ‘big books’, and asking where they stand now. These conversations will be grounded in the current cultural and political moment, looking to the future as much as to the past.

Our approach is based on a sense that historical debate about key issues in the history of the United Kingdom in the twentieth century has become rare, as a look at historical journals will testify. We contend that such retrospection is essential to revitalize discussion and refashion new research agendas. As Susan Pedersen has observed, ‘we could really use (and our students still more would benefit from) a set of competing, strong, partial, integrative frameworks’.

Debate has too often been projected back onto earlier historical periods, or left to those who are not professional historians with more presentist agendas. By debate we do not mean areas of new interest which have emerged, or new methods (of which there are many), but rather sites of sustained contention between positions. As part of this exercise we must also revisit path-breaking books, which engaged debates when immediately published or subsequently, and which have had high explanatory ambitions and sought to make large claims about the history of twentieth-century Britain.

Provisional Programme:

Registration: 9am

Opening Remarks: 9:30am

First Panel: 9:45-11am

Room 1: Alan Milward, The Rise and Fall of the National Strategy

Chair: Professor Joe Maiolo (King's College London)

  • Dr James Ellison (Queen Mary)

  • Dr Piers Ludlow (London School of Economics)

  • Dr Helen Parr (University of Keele)

Room 2: Permissiveness

Chair: Dr Alana Harris (King's College London)

  • Hannah Charnock (University of Exeter)

  • Dr Jodi Burkett (University of Portsmouth)

  • Dr Ben Clements (University of Leicester)

  • Dr Marcus Collins (Loughborough University)

Room 3: Empire Strikes Back

Chair: Dr Sarah Stockwell (King's College London)

  • Claude Frederick Scott (Independent Scholar)

  • Dr Jean Smith (King's College London)

  • Dr Raf Nicholson (Queen Mary)

  • Dr George Giannakopoulos (Queen Mary)

  • Peter Brooke (King’s College London)

Coffee Break: 11-11:30am

Second Panel: 11:30am-12:45pm

Room 1: Sally Alexander, Becoming A Woman: And Other Essays in 19th and 20th Century Feminist History

Chair: Professor Sally Alexander (Goldsmiths)

  • Professor June Purvis (University of Portsmouth)

  • Debbie Parker Kinch (University of Portsmouth)

  • Dr Michael Lambert (University of Liverpool)

  • Dr Lucy Delap (University of Cambridge)

Room 2: Jose Harris, William Beveridge

Chair: Professor Jose Harris (British Academy)

  • Andrew Seaton (New York University)

  • Matthew Grant (Exeter University)

  • Chris Renwick (University of York)

Room 3: Race and Britain

Chair: Dr Toby Green (King's College London)

  • Dr Alana Harris (King's College London)

  • Iqbal Husain (The National Archives, U.K.)

  • Dr Anna Maguire (King's College London)

  • Dr Ruvani Ranasinha (King's College London)

Room 4: Thatcherism

Chair: Dr Martin Farr (Newcastle University)

  • Dr James Freeman (University of Bristol)

  • Dr Edmund Neill (New College of the Humanities)

  • Dr Amy Edwards (University of Bristol)

Lunch: 12:45-1:30pm

Third Panel: 1:30-2:45pm

Room 1: Callum Brown, The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding secularisation 1800-2000

Chair: Professor Callum Brown (University of Glasgow)

  • Dr David Geiringer (University of Sussex)

  • Rev Dr David Goodhew (Durham University)

  • Ruth Lindley (University of Birmingham)

Room 2: ‘Has there been a British way in warfare?’

Chair: Professor David Edgerton (King's College London)

  • Dr Tim Benbow (King's College London)

  • Professor Greg Kennedy (King's College London)

  • George Evans (King's College London)

  • Michelle Gordon (Royal Holloway)

  • John Alexander (Royal Air Force)

Room 3: ‘The antique state and gentlemanly capitalism, revisiting the Nairn-Anderson and Cain and Hopkins theses’

Chair: Laura Carter (King's College London)

  • Tom Kelsey (King's College London)

  • Dr Alexander Hutton (King's College London)

  • Dr Aled Davies (University of Bristol)

Coffee Break: 2:45-3:15pm

Fourth Panel: 3:15-4:30pm

Room 1: Consensus

Chair: Dr Helen McCarthy (Queen Mary)

  • Dr Catherine Flinn Goldie (Oxford Brookes University)

  • Dr Chris Smith (Coventry University)

  • Kate Terkanian (Bournemouth University)

  • Dr Kristopher Lovell (Aberystwyth University)

Room 2: Thatcherism

Chair: Professor Richard Vinen (King's College London)

  • Matthew Knowles (King's College London)

  • Dr Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite (University College London)

  • Dr Robert Saunders (Queen Mary)

Room 3: Declinism

Chair: Dr Andrew Blick (King's College London)

  • George Morris (University of Cambridge)

  • Thomas Bottelier (King's College London)

  • Professor Jim Tomlinson (Glasgow)

  • Dr Charlotte Riley (University of Southampton)

Keynote: 4:30-5:30pm

Professor Patrick Wright (King's College London), ‘The English Fix: some historical perspectives on Brexit'

Chair: Professor Anna Snaith (King's College London)

Opening remarks from Professor Russell Goulbourne, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Wine reception: 5:30-6:30pm

Opening remarks from Professor Frans Berkhout, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy and Professor of Environment, Society and Climate

We are delighted to be able to offer a number of travel bursaries for PGR students and un-funded ECRs coming from outside of London. Please email your name, institution and a short statement about why you would like to attend the conference to by 7 August.

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King's College Londonb


Anatomy Lecture Theatre



United Kingdom

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