'Contemporary British History Now'
London WC2R 2LS
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‘Contemporary British History Now’
King’s College London
13 September 2017
Keynote speaker: Professor Patrick Wright, Professor of Literature and Visual & Material Culture, Department of English, King’s College London
What is Contemporary British History Now? 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.
September 8, 2017, 5:00pm BST
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