United Kingdom? Four Nations Approaches to Modern ‘British’ History
King’s College London, 20 February 2015
Keynote speaker Dr Paul O’Leary, Aberystwyth University
In the 1990s, historians examined four nations approaches to ‘British’ history at a series of conferences and symposiums. Exciting though the work of these ‘New British Historians’ was, it focused overwhelmingly on the early modern period, and little has been done since to further utilise their frameworks. Twenty years on, and nearly forty years after J.G.A. Pocock’s ‘plea for a new subject’, this conference will celebrate, analyse and question four nations approaches to modern ‘British’ history, as ripe for exploration.
This one day conference will offer the opportunity to think critically about how we research and write the history of these islands. It will raise important questions about methodology and terminology.
For instance, to what extent has ‘British’ meant ‘English’, and how far can such approaches encompass Ireland? How can the ‘New British History’ influence modernists, and how have ‘four nations’ and ‘transnational’ agendas challenged historians’ national-orientations? Can there be such a thing as a comprehensive four nations history or are nations too individual to facilitate such study? Have contemporary constitutional reforms prompted us to think differently about ‘British’ history, and how will the field evolve in relation to the changing constitutional make-up of the United Kingdom?
The conference will bring together established academics, postgraduate and early career researchers, and policy makers. We aim to strengthen cooperation between researchers, and the post-conference wine reception will formally launch the Four Nations History Network, co-founded by King’s College London PhD students Maggie Scull and Naomi Lloyd-Jones.
We would welcome proposals from researchers who are practising modern British history using four nations frameworks or are examining the individual nations. This conference is open not only to those studying nationally-oriented histories, but also to those researching events, episodes, theories and movements within England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, c.1700 to the modern day. Proposals could cover, but are not limited to, the following:
- Union, constitution and devolution
- Regionalism and separatism
- Interactions and interrelationships
- Parties, politics and policies
- Religions and their institutions
- Monarchy and the State
- Identity, tradition and heritage
- Culture, language, literature, art, music, sport
- Space and land
Proposals should be no longer than 300 words for individual papers, and 1,000 words for three-person panels. They should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 3 October 2014. The abstract should be submitted as a Word attachment and include: 1) the title of your paper; 2) institutional affiliation; 3) your professional status – academic, doctoral student, independent scholar/other, and 4) your contact details, including your email address. Applicants will be informed of the outcome by 10 October 2014.
More information on the Four Nations History Network can be found here: https://fournationshistory.wordpress.com/. You can follow us on Twitter @4nationshistory and like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/4nationshistory. We are also seeking guest bloggers willing to share their thoughts with our research community. Please email us if you are interested.