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‘Home: New Histories of Living’: announcing the IHR’s Winter Conference

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The IHR’s forthcoming Winter Conference, to be held on 8-9 February 2018, takes as its theme Home: New Histories of Living.

The title reflects the event’s two main aims: to bring together those working on past domesticities (and above all on the experiences of home life); and to focus especially on new and innovative research which explores how the home has been thought about, utilized and lived in. This focus on research and methodological enquiry will, we hope, become an important strand in future IHR events and conferences—in line with the Institute’s standing as a national centre for training in established and emerging forms of historical research.

Over two days in February 2018, ‘New Histories of Living’ will address four interrelated subject areas currently of particular interest to historians of domestic life. Each panel will comprise three papers relating to the principal theme, interconnected and set in context by a specialist convenor. Panels will bring together scholars whose work provides insights both into historical domestic experiences and historians’ approaches to these pasts.

Day One will offer two sessions, beginning with ‘Reconstructions: imagining domestic experience’—a survey of new ways to recreate medieval and early modern interiors, convened by Professor Catherine Richardson from the University of Kent. This will be followed by ‘Rooms’, which—under the guidance of Sonia Solicari, director The Geffrye Museum, London—considers how historians tackle the changing forms and uses of spaces to accommodate family life, from birth to death, and for cooking, cleaning, resting and entertaining.  Given our interest in recreating the uses and experience of household artefacts and furnishings, museum designers and curators are an important constituency—as speakers and delegates—at this Winter Conference.

Day Two will begin with the ‘Home-work: reimagining gendered domesticity’ panel (Dr Lynne Walker, IHR), a survey of male and female domestic environments. The fourth panel, ‘Dream homes: alternative futures for residential experience’, is convened by Dr Elizabeth Darling of Oxford Brookes University. This session will consider the history of lives lived in the ‘homes of tomorrow’.

Alongside the themed sessions we have four plenary lectures. These will be delivered by Professor Jane Hamlett of Royal Holloway, University of London, a specialist in nineteenth-century domestic and institutional living; the art historian and BBC presenter Dan Cruickshank; the historian of early modern London, Professor Vanessa Harding (Birkbeck); and the architectural historian Owen Hatherley, whose latest book, Landscapes of Communism, is a history of a political ideal told through its buildings.

In addition to lectures and panels, the Winter Conference will offer ancillary events on the subject of research practice and methods. We also expect to make available new technologies for visualizing the historical home. Digital research tools are an interest shared by several of our panellists, and by IHR staff who’ll demonstrate how to make, and use, 3D images and printed models of household artefacts—as well as virtual reality (VR) recreations of complete interior spaces or structures.

Tickets for ‘Home: New Histories of Living’, the 2018 IHR Winter Conference, are now on sale. A small number of bursaries are available for Masters Students, PhD researchers and ECRs to help with conference fees and travel expenses. For more information on how to apply for this please visit the conference website.

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