I. 2014 Conference Retrospective from Director of Outreach, Martin Farr
The British Scholar Society’s Director of Outreach, Martin Farr, has written a retrospective on our 2014 annual conference in Newcastle, which was regarded by all involved as a great success and perhaps the best conference we have thus far had. Especially satisfying to all of us at the Society were the numerous plaudits from conference participants that Dr Farr received in the weeks following the conference. Dr Farr’s thoughts on the conference (reproduced below) and the notes of praise and thanks he received testify to the continued growth of the Society and of the connections we continue to make, across the British World and beyond.
A note from Director of Outreach, Martin Farr:
2014 was the second time conference had been held in the UK. Unlike Edinburgh 2012, however, Newcastle 2014 had someone on the ground (me). This meant that conference dominated my life to an unhealthy extent for the best part of six months, but it did mean that we had none of the problems that made Edinburgh such a challenging experience. The weather was much better, for instance. The greatest challenge to my composure was the number of speakers who withdrew in the weeks, and indeed days, beforehand. Never having submitted a paper to a conference unless I knew I could deliver it, I was surprised how many people don’t. We still had 38 panels, 124 papers, and six plenaries which include Lunchtime Lectures on each day. The conference was held in the School of History at Newcastle University, with all plenaries in our nice new teaching rooms, and lunch and refreshments upstairs. Having all delegates in the same place all the time was the greatest improvement on Edinburgh. The social events – at the Baltic, Alnwick Castle, and the Town Wall – went very well. It was all an enormous relief. There’s nothing I can add to the unsolicited feedback received from delegates, here presented anonymised and complete:
*“Just a note to say thanks and congratulations for such a fantastic conference last week. As a latecomer to the BSS party it was great to meet so many people working on such interesting topics and to spend some time in Newcastle. The sessions were really first class and I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable conferences I’ve been to. I have had lunch with Wm Roger Louis since and passed on how well it all went. I hope you can both now enjoy a bit of a break. Congrats again and all best wishes.”
*“Just to record my thanks for your inspiration and efforts in putting together such a fine event. The David Reynolds lecture was a truly outstanding finale.”
*“Well done for the excellent organisation of the conference. I really liked Newcastle, though I did not have much time to look around. It was also very nice to see British Scholar team and team members”
*“I would like to thank you for organising, once again, a great conference with stimulating papers and entertaining moments in a friendly atmosphere. Please pass on my thanks to all the other colleagues involved in the organising of such an event which, as I know, requires a lot of hard work!”
*“Just wanted to send you both a message of thanks for all of your hard work in organizing the conference in Newcastle. It was a big task, I’m sure, but you both betrayed so little sign of it that I might have believed it all came together organically without so much as an email being sent around. I know better though, and so I thought you’d like to hear how universally positive all of the conversations about the conference proved to be. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, made some new friends, very much enjoyed seeing both of you, and that seemed to be the case for everyone I spoke to as well. Hopefully you have the chance to get some well earned rest!”
*“Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed the conference. You and your colleagues in the British Scholar and Newcastle University did a top notch job – you have obviously done it before! The panels were good and the questions raised were engaging. I look forward to Austin next year, if I can get the funding! Keep in touch.”
*“Brilliant conference Martin, and the dinner at Hogwarts was inspired.”
*“Just wanted to drop you an email to say thanks for a great conference this weekend and for putting me on to the Britain and the World Series at Palgrave. It sounds like they may be interested which is brilliant. Hope you’re having a well-earned rest!”
*“Congratulations on a successful conference. For me, the lunchtime lectures were the highlight. John and Reba belong to very different traditions, but they complemented one another very well.”
*“I just wanted to take the time to thank you both for putting on such an excellent conference. It was certainly the best ‘big’ conference I’ve ever been to, and – dare I say – perhaps even better than one I ran here in Aberdeen that previously held my all-time top spot! Anyway, I know for certain that I wasn’t the only one to really enjoy it, and I think that bears testament to all of the hard work that both of you put in. I’m not sure if I can make it to Austin, but if I’m lucky enough to still be in academia the year after I’ll definitely try and make it to the next UK-based one. So, thanks once again to both of you!”
*“I just wanted to drop you a quick note to tell you how much I enjoyed the British Scholar conference. I hope the rest of the event and the wrap party went well. I’ll definitely aim to submit an abstract for next year’s event. As I mentioned last weekend, it was a very welcoming and stimulating atmosphere and it was very well organised.”
*“I didn’t get chance to see you before I left but I thought it was a great conference – lots of interesting papers, very relaxed atmosphere and great venues.”
*“I did not get the chance to say this in person on Saturday: many thanks for putting together a great conference!”
*“It was a great conference – I really enjoyed getting a different perspective (from the top of the world down rather than looking up!) and meeting different people. I hope I can make it to another Britain and the World conference again – possibly in 2016.”
*“Well done on a great conference…it all seemed to go very smoothly and well. I really enjoyed it”
*“Congratulations on a very successful conference. You must be exhausted now.”
*“Thank you so much for organizing such a wonderful conference, and for inviting me to present a paper. I had such a lovely time, and got some excellent feedback. I will be sure to encourage my fellow KCL history PhD students to submit abstracts in the future!”
*“Excellent conference, at every level that I had the privilege to be part of. The Town Wall pub was great and getting very busy, so we headed out for dinner on Grey Street. I’ll send more later, but very well done!”
*“Thank you for organizing such a great conference. Our session yesterday went very well.”
*“I hope you are at last able to get some relaxation. I was going to say to you ‘Just think of the lovely Sunday you will have’ when [I was told] that you would be having a meeting on Sunday! Anyway, I send you my warmest congratulations on a superb conference, marked not only by its intellectual meat, but also by terrific organisation – all thanks to you and Mikki. So this is just to let you know how warmly appreciated it all was. And do please pass on my congratulations to Mikki. And a special thanks for all your care and concern for my welfare. Also greatly appreciated.”
*“I couldn’t resist sending a quick note to thank you both for everything over the past few days. I had a truly wonderful time at the conference — indeed, I am really struggling to find the proper words to express how much I enjoyed and appreciated all that you did, from the panels, to the keynotes and lectures, to the overall organization and atmosphere of the conference. I felt both comfortable and energized, on both intellectual and personal levels, and Newcastle was just great. You really have something special here in this group and I am honored and privileged to be a part of it now. It all sounds horribly trite as I type it out now, so I will stop here and leave it at a simple, additional thank you!! It’s a long time until March, but I eagerly await next year’s conference.”
II. Call for Papers for 2015 Annual Conference of The British Scholar Society
With the 2014 annual conference still fresh in our minds, we are pleased to announce the Call for Papers for the next annual meeting of the Society, which will be held 2-4 April 2015 in Austin, TX. As always, we are accepting both individual paper and complete panel submissions. The deadline to submit abstracts is Monday, 17 November 2014. Please refer to the following link for more information on the conference and instructions for the submission of abstracts:
III. Some Thoughts on Scottish Independence and The British Scholar Society
A note on the Scottish independence referendum from Associate Editor, Leslie Rogne Schumacher:
Our annual conference in Newcastle coincided with the lead-up to what will, with little doubt, be regarded in the future as one of the key political and cultural events in modern British history, namely the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. Although the union was ultimately confirmed by a margin of 55% to 45%, we have now learned both the strength and the limits of the bonds that tie together the United Kingdom—and, indeed, the British World as whole, given the coverage, concern, and debate that was in evidence throughout Britain’s former colonies, the United States, and beyond. We have also learned of the high degree of political involvement that exists in Scotland, with an astonishing 85% turnout of eligible voters—a number that, even more astonishingly, includes newly enfranchised 16 and 17 year-olds voting for the first time. As an example of the spirit of democracy, there can be no doubt of how heartening this last statistic is.
In the last few months, The British Scholar Society suddenly found itself at the heart of modern politics, which is not surprising given the Society’s role in providing a corrective to the exclusion of the Scottish space in British Studies (not to mention the Society’s strong representation of Scottish scholars among its members). General Editor, Bryan S. Glass, has been very active, providing his insights on the referendum and Scottish history more broadly both in public appearances and to the press. Last week, the Chairman of the Society’s Advisory Board, Sir Tom Devine, was interviewed on Newsnight, engaging in a fascinating, must-watch debate with Harvard professor Niall Ferguson (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SN1YDgqBjXk) on the issue of Scottish independence. As a testament to the powerful dynamic that is emerging between social media and scholarship, other Society members—such as Karly Kehoe, Martin Farr, Mikki Brock, Robert Whitaker, and myself—found themselves in a rolling, near-constant debate on Facebook—a too-often-belittled forum that, for scholars, never fails to expose the narrow gap between one’s work and one’s life.
Looking back on the mixture of emotions I have seen in the last few months—of fascination, anxiety, pride, resentment, and (more than anything) that rare and sought-after sense of being present during an auspicious event—I can only say that I am glad to be a part of this organization and to have so many thoughtful, concerned colleagues and friends. Although what we do may often appear to be just a small, routine contribution to the task of organizing the vagaries of history, we should feel lucky to have had a chance to take part in the present and, more importantly, be of use to it. There is no greater gift a scholar receives than the opportunity to have an impact.
IV. Additions to “Britain and the World” Book Series
Two new books the Society’s “Britain and the World” book series from Palgrave Macmillan are now available. Barry Gough’s Pax Britannica: Ruling the Waves and Keeping the Peace before Armageddon provides an analysis of the global role of Britain’s navy between the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the First World War. More information on Dr Gough’s book can be found at http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/pax-britannica-barry-gough/?isb=9780230354302. Erik Nielsen’s Sport and the British World, 1900-1930: Amateurism and National Identity in Australasia and Beyond looks at transnational themes in the history of amateur sports in Australia and New Zealand. One can find out more at http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/sport-and-the-british-world,-1900-1930-erik-nielsen/?isb=9781137398505.
V. New Issue of Journal Now Available
The new issue of Britain and the World: Historical Journal of The British Scholar Society is now available both in print and online. Members can access it at the following link:
VI. Associate Editor on the British Royal Family
Associate Editor of the Society Helene von Bismarck has written a piece on the centrality of the family to the popularity of the British monarchy overseas. Please go to the following link to read Dr von Bismarck’s fascinating article, titled “The Cambridges in Australia: Balmorality 2.0?”:
VII. Call for Review Article Submissions to Britain and the World
Britain and the World is seeking submissions for review articles that trace the historiographical direction and current state of the field of any topic that fits the mission of the journal. Britain and the World publishes review and archival-based articles that present new knowledge on any geographical region or theme that evidence meaningful interaction with Britain. Please inquire with Professor Gregory A. Barton, Editor-in-Chief, at gabartonbritishscholarorg (gabartonbritishscholarorg) .
VIII. Needed: Book Reviews Editor for Britain and the World
The British Scholar Society is issuing a call for a new Book Reviews Editor for its journal, Britain and the World. Those interested in taking on this responsibility should email editorbritishscholarorg (editorbritishscholarorg) with inquiries or to submit your name for consideration. Please include a current CV and a brief note explaining your background, your experience, and the resources you would offer if you took on the position.
IX. Book of the Month
Reviewed by Christopher A Whatley (University of Dundee)