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School of History

Research Culture and Events

The School sees historical research as an endeavour inspired by individual interest, skills, and commitment, but which always flourishes thanks to intellectual collegiality and the dynamic exchange of ideas. Hence, we aim to place the research of members of the School at all levels - from PhD students and postdoctoral researchers, to early career and advanced scholars - within frameworks of exchange that enhance and challenge their work. To this end, we organise a continuous array of activities - seminars and workshops, reading groups and conferences - and help members of the School realise ideas for such events. Most members of staff are also co-convenors of research seminars at the Institute of Historical Research, seminars which our PhD students frequent and where they can also deliver sections of their advanced research. Our Research Centres are also active venues for research events.
All these activities have drawn to the School cohorts of excellent doctoral and postdoctoral researchers, holders of competitive studentships and fellowships. They are the lifeblood of the School, a source of constant innovation and intellectual challenge, which we relish. We mentor them all with care and are delighted to see so many of them go on to successful academic careers.

Annual and Biennial Lectures

Our Annual and Biennial Lectures are hubs for interaction and exchange and are open to all members of the School as well as to broader audiences. These are:
  • The Hennessy Lecture in Modern British History
  • The Annual Lecture in the History of the Emotions
  • The Annual Philip Ogden Lecture at our partner institution in Paris, ULIP
  • The Rubinstein Lecture in the History of Political Thought
  • The Biennial Eric Foner Lecture and conference in American History, with Foner as participant
  • The Biennial Leo Baeck Institute Lecture

The distinguished colleagues who deliver these lectures are usually the School's guests for several days, during which time they deliver seminars, advise PhD students and spend quality time with members of the School.

Interdisciplinary Events

Our research is embedded within the various forums of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) Faculty and the opportunities it offers. The Institute of HSS is a hub for inter-disciplinary events, ranging from workshops to lectures by visiting scholars.
The international dimension is central to our research culture, in a School whose members are diverse in terms of their educational and disciplinary formation. Alongside the regular flow of international visitors to our School and Faculty, we maintain regular contacts through annual exchanges with the universities of Basel, Delaware, Freiburg, and Northwestern. We regularly also receive researchers funded by the European Research Council, who execute their research in our School and among us.

Upcoming Public Events

Ongoing: Global Health Security and Pandemics

This digital series is organised by the Mile End Institute and available to view online.

Ongoing: Mile End Institute podcast - Debating politics, policy and public life

Listen in to the Mile End Institute podcast series in which we bring together politicians, commentators, academics, students, and members of the public to discuss and debate the major challenges facing the country in a fast-moving and ever-changing world.

Ongoing: Hidden Histories podcast series

Hidden Histories sees QMUL PhD student Helen Carr exploring some of the country's hidden treasures, as she and some of our finest historians scramble through the actual spaces where history happened. Whether she's visiting the whorehouses of Covent Garden, or retracing the steps of the Peasants Revolt, Helen and her guests are a delightful guide to the hidden histories that lie just off the beaten track. Listen to her conversations with AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinkers here.

Ongoing: Snapshots of German-Jewish History and Culture

This digital series, hosted by the Leo Baeck Institute, gives you an insight into the Institute's collection of rare books, historical pamphlets and documents. 

30 March 2021: Medieval Solitude in Maria Dahvana Headley’s ‘The Mere Wife' (presented by Hetta Howes and hosted by the Solitudes: Past and Present Project)

Hetta Howes from City University of London talks about loneliness, solitude and transformative natural spaces in a contemporary re-telling of Beowulf. Information on how to join this online event is available here.

6 April 2021: London Irish: Goldsmith's Retaliation Revisted (presented by Michael J. Griffin, Limerick, and hosted by the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies)

More information on this online event is available here.

20 April 2021: Emotion in Body and Brain: the Biological Basis of Empathy (presented by Sarah Garfinkel and hosted by the Solitudes: Past and Present Project)

Sarah Garfinkel from University College London explores the physiology of loneliness and its relationship with other emotional states. Information on how to join this online event is available here.

22 April 2021: Heimat as a Shelter from Nazism (presented by Ofer Ashkenazi, Hebrew University Jerusalem, and hosted by the Leo Baeck Institute, London)

This talk analyses the presence of generic Heimat imagery in German-Jewish family albums from the 1930s and highlights two major tendencies: the appropriation of Heimat iconography in photographs of the Jewish home, and the endeavour to situate Jewish family members within generic Heimat scenes. In both cases, Heimat iconography alluded to an alternative notion of German identity – and of belonging in the German landscape – which allowed and encouraged the integration of Jews within it. Consequently, in Jewish family albums, Heimat imagery provided an imagined landscape that sheltered Jews from the menace of Nazism. This event will be held online - more information is available here.

5 May 2021: The Mechanical Warship: Naval Seamanship and Useful Knowledge in the Eighteenth Century (presented by Elin Jones, Exeter, and hosted by the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies)

More information on this online event is available here.

11 May 2021: Hedgehog Humanities: On the Ethics & Cultural Politics of Distance (presented by Marie Kolkenbrock and hosted by the Solitudes: Past and Present Project)

Marie Kolkenbrock from King's College London asks what role is played by the concept of 'distance' in contemporary responses to the question of how to live together. Information on how to join this online event is available here.

19 May 2021: Feeling Uncomfortable in William Gilpin's Observations Tours (presented by Erin Lafford, Derby, and hosted by the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies)

More information on this online event is available here.

1 June 2021: Renee Gladman and the Material Composition of Isolation (presented by Christine Okoth and hosted by the Solitudes: Past and Present Project)

Christine Okoth from the University of Warwick reads the poet and novelist Renee Gladman's body of work through the lens of linguistic isolation. Information on how to join this online event is available here.

24-25 June 2021: The 12th Annual London Graduate Conference in the History of Political Thought 

More information available here.

14 October 2021: ‘Your Heimat is our Nightmare’: Post-Soviet Poetic Interventions in German Culture (presented by Natasha Gordinsky, University of Haifa, and hosted by the Leo Baeck Institute, London)

In the past decade, post-Soviet Jewish writers, poets and artists who live and work in Germany, have been playing a crucial role in the ongoing debate on the various forms of migrant belonging in contemporary German culture. This lecture explores how these different cultural agents reflect and de-stabilize, performatively, the meaning of Heimat, a concept that is highly charged both in German and Soviet contexts. More information on this event is available here.

11 November 2021: From Heartland to Homeland? – German-Jewish Émigré Artists in Britain, c. 1933-45 (presented by Sarah MacDougall, Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, and hosted by the Leo Baeck Institute, London)

Founded as an arts society in 1915 in London’s East End, Ben Uri’s collection, exhibition history and programming were significantly impacted from the 1930s onwards by the artistic influx of the so-called ‘Hitler émigrés’. This lecture examines the conception of Heimat in relation to the lives and work of German-Jewish artists from this cohort, among them Frank Auerbach and Eva Frankfurther, as they navigated their new host culture, touching on notions of national cultural heritage and belonging. More information on this event is available here.