Call for Papers: ‘Innovations in Teaching Eighteenth-Century History’

Online workshop hosted by the University of Northampton, 25 June 2020


HogarthWanstead cropped

William Hogarth, ‘The Assembly at Wanstead House’ (c. 1728-32): Wikimedia Commons

In recent decades, the eighteenth century has been a notable growth area in historical studies and related disciplines. Since its study was long neglected, historians of the period tended to work with scholars from other disciplines under the banner of ‘eighteenth-century studies’, leading to a field that is often interdisciplinary and theoretically-informed. Research areas that currently receive attention include – among many others – the histories of colonialism, material culture, emotions, sexuality and ecology. Given that the eighteenth century is often regarded as a foundational one for the modern world, much of this research has an overt contemporary relevance.

The eighteenth century is now widely taught in UK History departments, but it also presents challenges. Students will typically not have encountered it as part of their school curriculum, they may have preconceptions that are offputting, and the source material can be appear longwinded or illegible. Much of this source material is now online, so students require digital skills to evaluate it. The theoretical and interdisciplinary nature of some of the critical writings can also make it challenging to teach, especially at undergraduate level. It can therefore be a tough sell, whereas academics of the period are keen to convey that this is a fascinating and important period to study.

This day workshop will therefore reflect on how we teach the history of the long eighteenth century, focusing on pedagogical innovation and current developments in the discipline. Themes could include:

  • Teaching the digital eighteenth century
  • Decolonising the eighteenth-century curriculum
  • Mental wellbeing and neurodiversity
  • LGBT+ history in the classroom
  • Pedagogy and the environmental crisis
  • Eighteenth-century studies and postgraduate learning
  • Teaching and learning with material objects

Please send 300 word proposals for papers or workshop sessions to by 20 April 2020.

UPDATE: due to the COVID-19 situation, we have extended the deadline for proposals, and plan to hold the workshop online. Please watch this space for further details.

The event is funded by the East Midlands Centre for Learning and Teaching in History. Participation is free of charge.

The event is organised by Matthew McCormack (Northampton), Ruth Larsen (Derby) and Alice Marples (Oxford).