RETHINKING THE INSTITUTION IN THE LONG NINETEENTH CENTURY

Liverpool John Moore’s University 13th-14th July 2017 Keynotes: Deborah Cohen, Jane Hamlett and Helen Rogers.

Last week we attended Rethinking the Institution in the Long Nineteenth Century at Liverpool John Moores University. The conference was organised by Kate Taylor, a PhD Scholarship student at LJMU researching English female inebriates in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Kate did a fantastic job of organising a stimulating programme with some noteworthy keynotes.

Jane Hamlett’s opening keynote discussed the intersection between institutional worlds and the domestic and the role of agency. Hamlett questioned by the study of institutions is ‘fashionable’ and how domesticity is used in shared spaces. Hamlett’s work has already been a huge influence in the field, leading on from her book  At Home in the InstitutionMaterial Life in Asylums, Lodging Houses and Schools in Victorian and Edwardian England. It was a pleasure to hear Jane speak and further understand how she has inspired research on domesticity in institutional spaces in the long nineteenth century. 

Image result for jane hamlett at home in the institution

Helen Rogers opened day two with her keynote speech on the use of lyrical history to make it “possible to do more than examine prisoners as subjects of power”. Helen has written extensively on her presentation topic at her blog: https://convictionblog.com/. Rogers aims to reconstruct institutions from the inside in her upcoming book Conviction: Stories from a Nineteenth-century Prison. It was wonderful to see a renowned academic encourage blogging and public engagement within academia and her investigative style into the history of institutional inmates is truly innovative.

Throughout the two days a series of inspiring PGRs and ECRs presented some fantastic research. They covered institutions from all perspectives, from all levels and across the full breadth of the country. Some common issues that arose such as; the agency of inmates, domesticity in the institution, how class affected institutionalization, educational needs and ideas of discipline, to name only a few. The full range of research varied widely but each individual presenter inspired the room with their passion for their research.

Ending the conference on a high note was Deborah Cohen’s reading group discussing a section from her iconic and influential text, Chapter Three: ‘Children who disappeared’ from Family Secrets: The Things We Tried to Hide. This discussion tied together some of the key issues raised throughout the presentations regarding researching institutional spaces in the long nineteenth century.

Image result for Family Secrets: The Things We Tried to Hide

On a final note, a huge congratulations is in order to Kate Taylor for successfully organising such a productive and inspiring conference. It was a wonderful room full of active scholars with supportive ideas for each others research. It was a pleasure to attend and we hope to see you all again at future events.

Conference Delegates:

Dr Jane Hamlett from Royal Holloway University of London (Keynote): @JaneHamlett

Dr Helen Rogers from Liverpool John Moores University (Keynote): @helenrogers19c

Prof Deborah Cohen from Northwestern University (Keynote): @DeborahACohen

Dr Leonard Smith from University of Birmingham

Susan Woodall (PhD candidate) from Royal Holloway University of London: @susan_woodall

Dr Laura Mair, Hope trust PostDoc research fellow at the University of Edinburgh: @LauraMMair

Natalie Mullen, AHRC funded PhD candidate at the University of Lancaster: @nmullenhist

Cara Dobbing (Phd Candidate) from University of Leciester: @caradobbing

Kate Taylor (PhD scholarship candidate) from Liverpool John Moores University: @katetaylorfc

Dr Emily Cuming (Lecturer in English) Liverpool John Moores University

Dr Rob Ellis from University of Huddersfield: @RE_histories

Jamie Nightingale (PhD Candidate) Royal Holloway University of London: @nightingale_jam

Dr Stef Eastoe from University of Roehampton: @StefEastoe

Dr Steve Taylor from University of Leicester: @Steve_J_Taylor

Catherine Sloan (PhD Candidate) from University of Oxford: @cgsloan/ @histchild

Gillian Almond (PhD Candidate) from Queen’s University Belfast: @historicasylums

Rachel Hewitt from the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare Glasgow Caledonian University:  @florencethePC

Dr Lucie Matthews-Jones from Liverpool John Moores University: @luciejones83

 

 

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