CFP: Writing the History of Britain and Ireland – The Use, Writing, and Reception of History, 1500-1700


Writing the History of Britain and Ireland: The Use, Writing, and Reception of History, 1500-1700

Institute of Historical Research, London

1 October 2016

This colloquium is a one-day interdisciplinary and cross-period event. Its focus is on the use, writing and reception of History in early modern Britain and Ireland, and the relationship between history and collective and ‘public’ memories, the construction of national, regional, political and religious identities, and the interdependence of history with custom and social practices.  The fields of memory studies and the history of history-writing have attracted much scholarly interest in recent years, together with scrutiny of the practices of commemoration and ‘public history’. These themes provide the core questions for this colloquium.

The colloquium will examine the variety of ways in which antiquarians, scholars and writers used ancient and medieval material to construct narratives relevant to their own time. The refashioning of ‘older’ styles such as chronicles and genealogies also contributed to a reworking of the past for present ends. These sources and narratives had a range of purposes, from political persuasion, family memorialisation, recording the history of one’s region, and the building of national and religious identities, often alongside and intertwined with these family and regional interests. There have been several significant explorations in the area of both history-writing and memory by English scholars, including Noah Millstone, David Cressy, Andy Wood and Alexandra Walsham. However, there has been a comparable lack of scholarship on these interrelated topics among historians of Wales, Ireland and Scotland. Despite the strong bardic and antiquarian traditions in Wales and Ireland, and the continuous production of historical writing from at least the medieval period onwards, there has been very little attention paid to the issue. This colloquium will aim to address this neglect, while including England both as part of a Three Kingdoms/Four Nations approach. We also hope to develop, through debate and mutual learning, the foundations of a comparative and methodological framework for Welsh, Irish and Scottish scholars in exploring the uses of history.

Keynote speakers include Professor Andy Wood (University of Durham) and Professor Raymond Gillespie (Maynooth University).

Paper topics may include but are by no means limited to:

  • The use of ancient and medieval manuscripts in early modern history-writing
  • Chronicles and their continued use and adaptation
  • History-writing and national/regional identities
  • History and polemic: politicising the past
  • Religious identities and the practice of religious history
  • Custom, social memory and the writing of history
  • The practice of history in early modern Britain and Ireland
  • Memorialisation and commemoration of historical events and persons in the early modern period

We invite prospective speakers of all career levels to submit abstracts for 20-minute papers.

Abstracts should be no more than 300 words, with a paper title and affiliation, to be submitted by 30 June 2016.

More information available on the website:




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