Institute of Historical Research: Rethinking Modern Europe Seminar

Convenors:  Dejan Djokić (Goldsmiths); Celia Donert (Cambridge); Russell Foster (KCL); Alex Drace-Francis (Amsterdam); Christian Goeschel (Manchester); Philippa Hetherington (UCL); Simon Jackson (Birmingham); Lucy Riall (EUI Florence); Jan Rüger (Birkbeck); Astrid Swenson (Bath Spa)

‘Rethinking Modern Europe’ is a new IHR seminar which aims to discuss and stimulate new research on modern European history. It wishes to promote debates on how to integrate regional, national, comparative and transnational approaches to history. Invited speakers will be encouraged to look beyond national borders and paradigms, to engage with comparative work and to review existing trends in the historiographies of Europe. Discussions about Europe with a transcontinental focus, and about Europe’s relationship with its colonial past and with the wider world, will also be considered. Understanding European history to include Britain as well as Europe’s former imperial possessions, the seminar seeks to ask questions about the importance of regionalism in Europe, about the meanings of East, West, South and North in relation to Europe and about changing concepts of Europe and the European.

Most mediaevalists and early modernists easily transcend national boundaries in their research, but scholars who work on modern and contemporary subjects often operate within the parameters of the nation state, and overlook wider European trends in history and historiographical research. While the national framework in modern historiography pays tribute to the ‘age of nationalism’ and acknowledges the importance of the creation of nation states since the late eighteenth century, this focus is also the consequence of increased specialisation within the historical profession. By questioning the limitations of national historiography, we aimto rethink how we teach modern European history and how we can encourage future research which attempts to reconnect different parts of Europe.

‘Rethinking Modern Europe’ follows the pattern of other IHR seminars by addressing itself to established historians and graduate students in London, the UK and beyond. Papers will focus on a wide range of topics covering aspects of European history and historiography from the late eighteenth century to the early twenty-first century. In addition to single-authored research papers, there will be presentations on recent graduate work and a number of panel discussions.

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