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Accidental Historians: History in Space – Space in History

November 15, 2017 @ 4:00 am - 5:30 pm

ACCIDENTAL HISTORIANS, 15 November 2017 – 4.00 pm – at Winterbourne House

History in Space – Space in History

Don’t be misled by the enigmatic title – this session is not about the history of space exploration! What it will try to focus on is the importance of the spatial aspects of history. History happens in particular places/spaces. Space is increasingly regarded as a key factor in historical narrative and analysis. Where something happened is often just as important as what happened and why it happened. The same is true of where an idea emerged, or where a person flourished, etc.

Preparation for our discussion is not essential but, if you do have time, please:

  • Reflect on your own research (previous or current): how important is space/location? Would things have happened differently elsewhere?
  • Is a regional perspective relevant to your research? Think about (e.g.) regional networks, and the ‘Midlands Enlightenment’.
  • Urban history, and (to a lesser extent) rural history, are thriving sub-disciplines. Consider the ways in which an urban or rural location might affect events, people and ideas.
  • Skim through my Introduction (attached) to Text and Image in the City (Text&Image_Hinks)[1] If you are short of time just read the quotes from other sources, which I think you might find useful.
  • Is ‘the spatial turn’ (see the final section of the Introduction) just a passing fashion or does it represent a real breakthrough in historical analysis?
  • How significant is it that a few geographers[2] are engaging with history? Are the traditional disciplinary barriers between history and geography becoming less relevant?
  • As always, beware of seductive but simplistic binaries: urban/rural, local/national, metropolitan/provincial, centre/periphery, etc. History is usually less tidy – and more complex – than that!

[1] John Hinks & Catherine Armstrong (eds.), Text and Image in the City: Manuscript, Print and Visual Culture in Urban Space (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017). (There is a copy of the book in Caroline’s office, should you be inspired to explore further!)

[2] See for example the work of Miles Ogborn and Charles W. J. Withers – both have engaged with book history in original and interesting ways.


November 15, 2017
4:00 am - 5:30 pm
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