CFP: Modern Walks

Call for Papers: Modern Walks: Human Locomotion during the Long Nineteenth Century, c.1800-1914

A conference organized by UNC-Chapel Hill and King’s College, London, September 13 and 14, 2013

Conference organizers:
Chad Bryant (UNC-Chapel Hill)
Cynthia Radding (UNC-Chapel Hill)
Paul Readman (King’s College London)

The nineteenth century was a century of movement. Trains sped passengers across previously unimaginable distances, radically transforming our conceptions of time and distance. Steamboats chugged up rivers and across oceans, provided heretofore unimagined possibilities for travel, trade, and migration. Within cities, trams and subways redefined the urban experience and the urban landscape. Bicycles and – by the turn of the century—automobiles opened another chapter in the history of man and machine united in motion. Yet scholars have often overlooked a simple fact: people continued to walk. Indeed, this most basic of human functions arguably took on an increasing number of forms and meanings as the nineteenth century progressed. The window shopper, commuter, tourist, and trespasser made their appearances on the world stage. Old rituals such as the pilgrimage and the promenade adapted to the modern age. Newer practices, such as organized marching, rambling, hiking, and mountain-walking established themselves as important features of social and cultural life.

This conference seeks to explore the many various practices of walking that persisted and emerged around the world in the course of the nineteenth century, and into the early twentieth century. Our goal is not only to offer a new perspective on the history of movement but to ask what walks and walking might reveal about some of the major themes in nineteenth-century global history such as urbanization, industrialization, commodification, and imperialism. In short, how does our perspective on the nineteenth century change if we ask how people put one foot in front of the other, and for what purpose?

Proposals for 8,000-word, pre-circulated papers are invited, with comparative and/or interdisciplinary approaches being especially welcome. Please send a three-page c.v. and an abstract of not more than 300 words to modernwalksconference2013@gmail.com  by January 15, 2013.

The conference will be held at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill on Friday, September 13, and Saturday, September 14, 2013. The organizers aim to publish the proceedings of the conference as an edited volume. Questions may be directed to Chad Bryant, History Department, UNC-Chapel Hill (bryantc@email.unc.edu); Cynthia Radding, History Department, UNC-Chapel Hill (radding@email.unc.edu), or Paul Readman, History Department, King’s College, London, (paul.readman@kcl.ac.uk).

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