A conference organized by the Regional History Centre, University of the West of England, Bristol, in partnership with the Museum of Bristol
Venue: The Old Council House, Corn Street, Bristol, UK
Date: 23-24 July 2010
As the new Museum of Bristol prepares to open its doors for the first time, this conference reconsiders the history of the second city from the fifteenth century to the present by inviting fresh interpretations of all aspects of its past, and by reflecting upon the uses and abuses of history in the making of urban identity. What are the components of historical memory in Bristol? What is remembered? What is overlooked? And what has been purposely forgotten?
In October 1820, the citizens of Bristol got their first look at a new painting of a celebrated local worthy being laid to rest. Set against the familiar outline of St Mary Redcliffe church, Edward Rippingille’s picture of William Cannyng’s funeral in 1474 contrived to unite past with present, and modernity with mercantilism, by placing such anachronistic figures as Chatterton, Colston, Southey and Cabot amongst Cannyng's mourners. Such artifice would, thought the Bristol Mercury, 'go far towards disproving the alleged stigma on our city of inattention to everything but gain’.
Moments like this capture the essence of Bristol’s difficult relationship with its own past. At one and the same time, Bristolians have been proud of a Second City carved from equal measures of industry, charity and culture, and proud too of their mastery of economic re-invention, yet haunted by memories of slavery, fears of comparative decline and accusations of philistinism.
‘Bristol has lived too much on its old traditions and, content with its nominal rank as the second city of the empire, it has allowed itself to be distanced by the enterprise and spirit of the North’, noted a London paper in 1854. ‘Bristol far exceeds Liverpool in mere beauty, but it is a beauty of the past, and a sleepy, dreary and leaden apathetic atmosphere has too long hung over both the fair city and its citizens’.
300-word proposals for 20 minute papers addressing Bristol's history are now invited, by word attachment please, and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, to arrive not later than MONDAY 1ST FEBRUARY 2010.
Individual papers and panels may focus directly upon the issues suggested above, or upon any aspect of the city's past. We welcome comparative and/or interdisciplinary papers and we seek contributions from both academic and public historians, from practitioners in related disciplines, from museum professionals, and from archaeologists.
Suggested themes may include, but need not be constrained by:
• Religious faith, belief and controversy
• The nature of ‘community’
• Physical sites of memory: statues and memorials
• The social, cultural and economic life of the port
• Charity and welfare
• Bristol’s use of the past
• Museums and museology
• The multi-cultural city
• Public and private space
• Class, power, authority
• Literary, musical and cultural life
• Trade, work and industry
• Radicals and rebels
• ‘Natives’ and ‘strangers’
• Gender and sexuality in the city
• Landscape and soundscape
• economic growth, decline and stability
• local government and public administration
• ‘Bristol’s worthies’: dead white males?
Any enquiries should be addressed to Steve Poole or Madge Dresser at email@example.com.
Dept of History
University of the West of England, Bristol
Tel: 0117 3284437 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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