History is not like a bus-line on which the vehicle changes all its passengers and crew whenever it gets to the point marking its terminus. Nevertheless, if there are dates which are more than conveniences for the purposes of periodisation, August 1914 is one of them. (Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire)
At the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, how useful is it to think about the Edwardian era as ending decisively in 1914? Indeed, how helpful have conventional boundaries of periodisation been in our understanding of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century British culture?
Rather than viewing ‘the Edwardian’ as a fixed and isolated historic moment, this conference seeks to open up new ways of thinking about the premonitions and echoes of the Edwardian age. Just as the 1880s and 1890s can be interpreted as ‘proto-Edwardian’, so too the Edwardians can be seen to have anticipated many issues and debates of the present day, from coalition governments to trade unions, immigration acts to women’s rights.
We invite papers on any aspect of British culture, based on varied temporal definitions of the ‘Edwardian period’. Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Proto-Edwardians: how far back can we trace the spirit of the Edwardian age? The Victorians? The Regency? Beyond?
• 21st Century Edwardians: to what extent have the social reforms, political activities and cultural developments of the Edwardian era shaped contemporary society?
• Between Two Wars: what is the relationship between war and the Edwardians? How significant is it that the Edwardian era is frequently perceived to have been bookended by the Boer War and the First World War?
• Old versus new: how helpful is Samuel Hynes’s observation that the Edwardian era was one in which ‘old and new ideas dwelt uneasily together’? Was the Edwardian period an unusually heterogeneous cultural moment?
• Uncanny Edwardians: how did the Edwardian preoccupation with séances, emergent psychological theories, and theological developments, influence their perception of themselves in terms of their historical moment?
‘Edwardian Premonitions and Echoes’ is the second annual conference of the Edwardian Culture Network. The two-day conference will be hosted by the University of Liverpool on April 10th-11th 2014. Please send 300 word abstracts to firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than Monday 2nd December 2013.