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CFP: Making the Connections: transport and its place in history

Submission deadline: August 7, 2016

Conference date(s):
November 16, 2016

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

University of York, UK
Exhibition Square, York, United Kingdom

Topic areas


Transport has played a pivotal role in history, transforming and shaping communities, society, economies and nations. Naval power – military and merchant – was the basis upon which empires were built from the fifteenth century to the twentieth, while canals stimulated the expansion of industries and trade, and became popular leisure activities decades later. The railways of the nineteenth century connected previously isolated individuals to the wider world, pushed through cities to re-configure urban living, while the companies themselves became the largest industrial enterprises of the age. The internal combustion engine allowed more flexible distribution of goods and commodities, facilitated the growth of consumerism, while car ownership changed personal mobility and people’s perceptions of their own social status. The aeroplane allowed new forms of military reconnaissance to be conducted, transformed the nature of war, and revolutionised the holiday as well as notions of time and space. All forms of transport have also been the subject of great artistic, poetic and literary works.

It is easy to find such examples of transport’s impact on history, but for several reasons it has proven harder to study its intricacies and effects, and over the last thirty years the subject has received little attention, with some even arguing that it has been progressively marginalised within scholarly circles. Whereas decades ago, no book on the nineteenth century would omit the construction of the canals and railways, now their existence and role in shaping the period’s history receives little acknowledgement. The ‘Making the Connections’ one-day workshop seeks to re-invigorate the study of the history of transport by bringing together scholars of different historical periods and from different disciplines. Sponsored by the National Railway Museum, supported by the York Management School's Management and Organisational History Research Cluster, and run by the York Transport Historians Group - which was established in 2015 and is a joint venture by staff at the National Railway Museum and the University of York - the workshop aims to demonstrate and celebrate transport’s central importance to the grand tapestry of human existence. Papers are welcome on the development and activity of transport in and of itself, although principally the workshop will examine how transport has connected with, shaped and influenced many areas of history, and how studying this relationship can enrich and add value to different strands of historical and academic study.

Please submit abstracts for 20 minute papers of no longer than 300-500 words to by 7 August. Proposals for papers on transport in history are accepted on the following subjects, although any relevant papers will be considered:

  • Speed, time, and travel.
  • Building, destroying, and rebuilding networks.
  • Children and the experience of travel and communication.
  • Business, organisational and managerial dimensions of transport
  • Women and transport.
  • International transport.
  • Transport and finance, economics and law
  • Advertising, promoting, and selling transport.
  • Staffing and running transport.
  • Writing or reading about transport.
  • Transport conflicts: danger vs safety, public vs private, work vs leisure.
  • Transporting animals, goods, or other materials.
  • Accessibility and disability.
  • Transport and the military, politics or ceremony
  • Sensing and experiencing transport modes.
  • Impact of transport on people, landscapes, and environments.
  • Transport and sport, pleasure and leisure
  • Connections of assistance or animosity.
  • Presenting, studying, or researching transport history in universities, museums, or further afield.

Notification of acceptance will be given by 28 August 2016. 

The full registration fee for the workshop is expected to be around £29, and there are 10 student places available at £10 each.  

The workshop will run from 0930 to 1700, booking details to follow.

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