news and updates on the Past & Present Blog


Introducing "Negotiating Networks: new research on networks in social and economic history"

By Josh Allen - April 11, 2018 (0 comments)

by Charlie Berry (IHR) and Esther Lewis (University of Nottingham)

On 25th June 2018, the Institute of Historical Research will host a one-day conference showcasing the latest research by social and economic historians who study networks and employ techniques of Social Network Analysis (SNA).

The conference is co-organised by two PhD students, Esther Lewis (University of Nottingham) and Charlie Berry (Institute of Historical Research). Esther and Charlie specialise in late medieval social history and met at the 2017 Harlaxton Medieval Symposium. We both use SNA to investigate aspects of urban social life and got chatting about the challenges and rewards of such an approach.

Facade of Senate House ( by Josh Allen, all rights reserved)

Social Network Analysis has become increasingly popular amongst social and economic historians as part of their ‘digital toolkit’, alongside other methodologies borrowed or adapted from the social sciences such as GIS. Whilst the language of network theory has been familiar to historians since the 1980s, the advent of readily available SNA software such as QGIS has hastened its adoption as a methodology for primary research in recent years.

We have both seen significant benefits to the use of SNA in our research, but recognise that there are some real challenges to its adoption. Network research takes place across a wide range of sub-disciplines, so we have put together a conference programme which deliberately breaks down barriers of periodisation and sub-discipline with the aim of introducing scholars to the full range of potential uses for the methodology. Papers range from the social networks of nineteenth-century prostitutes to early modern networks of overseas trade via the Danish Sound.

Negotiating Networks will also provide a space where scholars at all career stages, from research students to senior academics, can join the conversation about the potential for network analysis. Thanks to the generosity of Past and Present and the Social History Society, we are offering bursaries for postgraduate and early career scholars to attend the event. We hope Negotiating Networks will start a conversation about best practice in the use of network analysis in historical research.

Registration and a full programme are available via the IHR website

Past & Present logo, 2017 all rights reserved


Courtney Campbell Wins Latin American Studies Association Prize

By Josh Allen - April 2, 2018 (0 comments)

by the Past & Present editorial team

We were delighted to hear that former Past & Present Scholar-Courtney Campbell-has been declared the 2018 winner of the Latin American Studies Association’s Brazil Section award for best article in the humanities. This is for “Four Fishermen, Orson Welles, and the Making of the Brazilian Northeast” which appeared in Past & Present last year.

The award will be presented at the Latin American Studies Association’s annual conference in Barcelona this May. In honour of this achievement and to enable more people to read the article our publishers Oxford University Press Academic are very kindly making the article free to read for a limited time period.

Past & Present logo, 2017 all rights reserved

Call for Papers: Substance Use and Abuse in the long Nineteenth Century

By Josh Allen - March 27, 2018 (0 comments)

by the Past & Present editorial team

Past & Present is pleased to be supporting Substance Use and Abuse in the Long Nineteenth Century on the 13th and 14th September 2018 at Edge Hill University. Convened by Edge Hill’s Dr. Laura Eastlake and Dr. Andrew McInnes, confirmed speakers include Prof. Susan Zieger (California, Riverside), Dr. Noelle Plack (Newman University), Dr. Douglas Small (University of Glasgow).      

‘The body (follow me closely here) lies at the mercy of the most omnipotent of all potentates—the Chemist.’

Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (1859)

In The Woman in White Collins’s villainous Count Fosco expounds on the power of modern pharmacology. Fosco is speaking at the mid-point of a century wherein the body and the mind seemed increasingly easily affected by the influence of substances. From 1821 opium had allowed Thomas de Quincey to explore ‘the palimpsest of the human mind’ and navigate the dream space of the human subconscious. Ether and chloroform banished pain and facilitated new surgical innovations. Stimulants and sedatives regulated waking and sleeping and the working day in between. Reports of alcoholism, addiction and criminality appeared with increasing regularity in the periodical press and featured in the plots of new literary genres like the sensation novel and the detective story.

“Substance Use and Abuse” Poster, all rights reserved to the conference organisers, 2018

This two day interdisciplinary conference examines the changing roles of drugs and chemical substances in the history, literature, and medical discourses of the long nineteenth century. We invite proposals for 15-20 minute papers or panels on any aspect of the theme. Topics may include but are not limited to:

· Addiction and excess: Alcohol, tobacco, opiates, cocaine, ether, chloroform and other compounds

· Psychoactive substances, hallucinogenics, pharmacology

· New drug treatments, therapies, medical technologies, pain and pain management

· Concepts of stimulation and sedation

· Drugs and creativity

· Drugs and criminality

· Substances and the media: celebrity culture, advertising,

· Thomas de Quincey, Coleridge, Keats, Wilkie Collins, L. T. Meade Conan Doyle,

· Novels, sensation fiction, and literature as addiction

· Gendered representations of substance use

· Aphrodisiacs, appetite and their suppressants

· Substances and the military, empire, trade, war

· Neo-Romantic or Neo-Victorian representations of substance use

“Substance Use and Abuse” Poster, all rights reserved to the conference organisers, 2018

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words together with a brief biographic note to by 21st May.

We are delighted to be able to award a number of postgraduate bursaries. If you would like to be considered for a bursary, please include a 200-word explanation about how the conference relates to your research, along with a breakdown of your expenses.

Please see our website for more information.

Past & Present is pleased to support this event and others like it. Applications are welcomed from scholars of at all career stages working on all time periods.

"Mind the Gender Pay Gap"

By Josh Allen - March 20, 2018 (0 comments)

by the Past & Present editorial team

Later this year Past & Present will publish “Diets, Hunger and Living Standards during the British industrial revolution” by Prof. Emma Griffin (UEA, Norwich).

The article returns to, and seeks to re-frame and focus; the classic social history debates around the impact of early industrialisation upon the living standards of the poorest members of British society.

Prof. Griffin recently presented a BBC Radio Four programme, broadcast on International Women’s Day, Mind the Gender Pay Gap. In the programme she explored how gendered assumptions and power imbalances structured the organisation of work, affected the division of labour’s share of the proceeds of industrialisation, during the 18th and 19th Centuries. Through doing this she demonstrates that:

“…we can only make sense of the gender pay gap by taking a historical perspective. Beginning in the 15th century, [Prof. Griffin] explores how work has always been divided along gender lines. Then during the industrial revolution, when women started to enter the workplace in record numbers, women’s work was typically defined by lower wages, in comparison to men’s. [Prof. Griffin shows] how the new industrial employers maintained the gender pay gap in the burgeoning cotton mills.”

Using cutting edge social history to “argue that these very deep-rooted assumptions around paid and unpaid work powerfully influence the experiences of women in the workplace today. By uncovering this history, she sheds fresh light on one of the most contested issues of our own times: the politics of pay.”

Readers in the UK can listen to Prof. Griffin and her co-contributors on BBC iplayer.

Readers everywhere in the world can read Prof. Griffin’s open access article “Diets, Hunger and Living Standards during the British industrial revolution” via our publisher OUP Academic’s advance access section.

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