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Remembering early modern revolutions: England, North America, France and Haiti

June 17, 2017
Department of Humanities, University of Roehampton

Wolfson room 1
Institute of Historical Research, Senate House
London
United Kingdom

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The ‘turn to memory’, as Geoffrey Cubitt has described it, has been a major feature of recent historiography. This one-day conference will explore the memory of the major revolutions of the early modern period (England 1649 & 1688/9; North America 1776, France 1789 and Haiti 1791-1804). By addressing these events collectively, the conference will explore the interconnectedness of these revolutions in the contemporary mind. It will highlight the importance of invoking the memory of prior revolutions in order both to warn of the dangers of revolution and to legitimate radical political change. The conference will also unpick the different ways in which these events were presented and their memory utilised, uncovering the importance of geographical and temporal contexts to the processes of remembering and forgetting.

We welcome papers engaging with the role of revolutions in shaping national narratives and foundational myths; exploring the instrumentalisation of memory by powerful and marginal groups, in both national and transnational contexts; and discussing acts of collective and individual remembering and forgetting, both public and private. We encourage proposals that connect with key themes in memory studies, including but not limited to those which discuss the politics of memory, as exemplified in the classic work of Michel-Rolph Trouillot on the Haitian Revolution; Pierre Nora’s ‘sites of memory/lieux de mémoire’ – anniversaries, monuments and other forms of public commemoration; Tzvetan Todorov’s ‘blotting out of memory’ –  the deliberate expunction from memory of the events that preceded the establishing of a new regime; and Marianne Hersch’s concept of ‘postmemory’, that the trauma of revolution could also affect those who did not directly witness or experiences these events, but who were nonetheless powerfully influenced by the fractured remembrances of those who did. Examining both personal and collective remembrance, exploring private recollection and public commemoration, this conference seeks to uncover the rich and powerful memory of early modern revolutions.

Papers or panel proposals are welcomed in relation to these areas and themes, and any other aspects of the memory of these early modern revolutions.  The conference format will be for short and informal 10 minute presentations based on longer (c. 3-4000 word) pre-circulated papers. Please send proposals (inc 250 word paper abstract and brief CV) or enquiries to the conference organiser, Professor Ted Vallance (edward.vallance@roehampton.ac.uk) by 1 February 2017.

Already confirmed speakers include Ian Atherton (Keele), Kate Hodgson (Cork), Ed Legon (KCL/HRP), Steve Sarson (Lyon) and Andy Wood (Durham). A selection of the papers presented at the conference will be published as a collection with Routledge.

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