Tag Archives: Conferences

Bones, Bodies and Diseases: launch and conference 26 January 2019

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The end of our Putting Flesh on the Bones Project is in sight.  It’s been a wonderful experience and we are most grateful to the Wellcome Trust for funding it.  The project team have created catalogues and digital resources that unlock the Calvin Wells Archive, creating an invaluable resource for researchers.  We have also enjoyed learning more about Calvin Wells himself, who was not only a doctor and archaeologist, but a columnist, water-skier, and collector of strange objects.

To launch the project, we’re hosting ‘Bones, Bodies and Diseases’, a one-day conference, at the Norcroft Centre, University of Bradford, on 26 January 2019. The event, named after his famous book, is a tribute to Dr Wells.  It is also an opportunity to celebrate and share the work of the project and of palaeopathologists and other researchers.  The event is free and all are welcome.  You can register, see the call for abstracts, and find out more via our eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bones-bodies-and-disease-2019-one-day-conference-and-launch-event-for-the-calvin-wells-archive-registration-50908230889.

Taming the Hydra: the Adam Curle Symposium

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Join us at a Symposium at the University of Bradford which will bring together academics and activists from across the world to discuss peacemaking in the 21st century.  The event is on 5-6 September and organised by our colleagues in Peace Studies.  It celebrates the centenary of Professor Adam Curle, the first Chair of Peace Studies at the University.

Adam Curle came to Bradford with a distinguished academic career (across disciplines including psychology and education) and considerable experience of mediation efforts in conflicts across the world.  These, combined with the influence of Buddhist and Quaker ideas, led him to distinctive and important conclusions about peace studies.

At the time of his arrival in Bradford, he had realised that negotiation was not enough.  The negotiator might “ease a particular situation, but the circumstances, the rivalries, the oppression, the scarcity of resources – which had given rise to it – remained”. Peace studies should therefore be about more than “preventing or terminating wars”: those working in the discipline should identify and analyse relationships between people, groups or nations and then “use this information in order to devise means of changing unpeaceful into peaceful relationships”.  Not easy – Adam Curle likened the multiple and complex challenges of addressing violence to taming the mythological multi-headed hydra.


In 2016 people still face war, injustice and inequality … can Adam’s ideas help us as individuals and groups bring about more peaceful relationships?

The packed Symposium programme features talks, workshops, exhibitions, film showings, and the launch of a new book from Hawthorn Press, Adam Curle: radical peacemaker, by Tom Woodhouse and John Paul Lederach.  Above all, it is a chance to learn and share ideas with interesting and committed people.  Everyone is welcome and the charge for attendance is only £10.

Priestley, Documentary, Realism and Democracy: conference 25 October

Priestley, Documentary, Realism and Democracy: open one-day conference sponsored by the J.B. Priestley Society.

9.45-17.00 West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds.  25 October 2014.

There is still time to book a place at this fascinating conference, which includes Special Collections staff among the speakers.

PRI8_1_11 27 closeIt is eighty years since the publication of J.B. Priestley’s English Journey . The book influenced a whole generation on its appearance and has since inspired numerous responses and sequels. This conference aims both to do justice to that impact and also to consider wider issues raised by the documentary and social-realistic work of Priestley and his contemporaries in the Thirties and Forties.  Alison Cullingford will introduce delegates to the Heinemann Scrapbook, which shows how the publisher whipped up interest in Priestley’s controversial comments on English cities (image above).  Martin Levy will explore belatedness and Priestley’s social philosophy.  Other speakers will cover aspects of cinema, Orwell, Muir, social fiction and Priestley’s wartime suspense stories.

To find out more and book your place, see the conference mini-website.

Download the Programme.  JBPS 2014 Conference Running Order

Download the Poster.  JBPS_Conference_Poster

The Actual and the Real

The Actual and the Real is a conference exploring J.B. Priestley’s English Journey and its connections to the documentary movement and other literary and political threads of the 30s and 40s.  It takes place in Leeds on 25 October 2014.  Find out more on the Conference website, including details of the Call for Papers which ends on 14 June.

Priestley SpecFic in the Spotlight

Introducing Priestley SpecFic


Meet Snoggle!

J.B. Priestley was fascinated by the possibilities of time, space, dreams and the fantastic or weird.  Alongside the famous time plays, he used these ideas in TV scripts, essays, short stories and novels, ranging from Snoggle, a charming tale of a friendly alien, to the terrifying nuclear war scenario of Level 7. This spring, a convention and a publisher celebrate Priestley’s speculative fiction.

Ghost of Honour

Detail from dustjacket of Benighted by J.B. Priestley (Heinemann)

Detail from dustjacket of Benighted by J.B. Priestley (Heinemann)

Priestley will be “Ghost of Honour” at this year’s Eastercon: Eightsquared, in Bradford over the Easter weekend, featuring a lecture by  Lee Hanson, Chair of the J.B. Priestley Society.  As the Eastercon blog says, “[Priestley’s] quietly durable work is well worth a fresh look as modern literary writers increasingly adopt SF ideas and themes. Priestley was doing that decades ago, as well as using elements of the fantastic to address political and social debates …”

Back to the Old Dark House

Detail from cover of The Other Place, by J.B. Priestley (Corgi)

Detail from cover of The Other Place, by J.B. Priestley (Corgi)

Valancourt Books are issuing two classics of the weird by Priestley: Benighted, the tale of travellers benighted at an “old dark house”, which became a horror classic in its film form, and The Other Place, disquieting short stories, including “The Grey Ones” and “Uncle Phil on TV”.

Reflecting on Rare but not Old (and some Old stuff)

Some musing on the recent CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group conference.  This was held at Lancaster University, 8-10 September.  (Disclaimer – I was co-organiser!).

Mary Nixon, the group’s Chair, delivered the key note speech, summing up the ethical, legal, and practical issues facing curators of modern special collections.  Alison Cullingford (me!) then gave a paper about PaxCat Project, which is a great case study for Mary’s points.

Unfortunately Sue Breakell was unable to attend, but Sheila Hingley of Durham University bravely stepped in and did a great job of reading Sue’s paper and showing her slides.  Sue’s thought-provoking talk covered issues around artists’ archives, and how artists use archives.

We finished the afternoon with Sarah Lawrance and the wonderful work of Seven Stories.  Sarah showed us a moving film about the wartime experiences of author Judith Kerr, creator of Mog, The Tiger who came to Tea, and Pink Rabbit.

The session on preservation of modern materials offered two complementary speakers, Cordelia Rogerson of the British Library on plastics and Simon Rooks of the BBC Archives on audio-visual material.  It is difficult for a rare books conference to offer a genuinely new take on preservation but I felt that by sharing the management decisions of their own institutions both speakers gave me new things to think about.

Modern special collections deal with the experiences of living or recently deceased people.  This means that legal and ethical issues form a major part of the work of managing such collections.  Three great speakers shared how these issues affect their work and how they cope.  I have to be rather brief in writing these up – Chatham House rules!  Rachel Foss of the British Library on dealing with modern literary estates and Fiona Courage (my co-organiser) on the problems of Mass ObservationNia Daniel of the National Library of Wales told us about the Memory Project, which pro-actively asked living Welsh authors about their use of IT, crucial for later archiving of their papers.

The speakers on Friday morning were all about outreach.  Alun Edwards showed how the First World War Poetry Digitisation Project has expanded and reached out by effective use of social media/web 2.0 such as Second Life and flickr.  I have been rather cynical about Second Life, but the simple ways in which the project used it were compelling (e.g. a gas cloud of words coming over the green-tinged trenches).

Julie Johnstone of the Scottish Poetry Library shared the experiences of a Heritage Lottery project based on the archive of Scotland’s national poet, Edwin Morgan.  This project made a little funding go a long way in engaging the public, with poems in public places and in the toilet.  I found the chosen visuals very striking, based on Morgan’s typewriter and desk.

Sue Mayo of the LIFT Living Archive showed how to bring an archive of material from a theatre festival to life.  The project worked with schools and communities groups in particular and Sue suggested ways to work effectively with such groups.  For example, avoid “box envy” (make sure no-one gets a seemingly dull, texty box when others have pictures and fun stuff).  The Union Jack knitted thong has remained in my mind for some reason.

Our Thursday afternoon visits took in Wordsworth’s home, Dove Cottage, and two fascinating collections on the Lancaster campus, the Ruskin Library and the Jack Hylton Archive.  Those who didn’t get to the Ruskin for the behind the scenes visit would have had a chance to look around and take in the amazing architecture at the reception on the Wednesday evening.

I enjoyed the Hylton visit very much: the collection of theatre programmes, press cuttings, music etc linked up with our Priestley Archive, and was also a real nostalgia fest for anyone who remembers 60s and 70s television.

The conference ended with a useful discussion of current concerns.  At a time when cuts loom for higher education, we are aware of the need to make the case for the value of our collections now and in future, and to make best use of new technology to deliver services and engage with the wider world.  The Group will of course be doing all it can to help members engage with these matters, by training and advocacy.

I found the conference particularly valuable because it highlighted the problems common to modern materials, whether literary, political, visual arts, or whatever.  Speakers were not simply bewailing the problems but finding practical and realistic solutions, or at least, ways to cope.

Rare but not Old

I am one of the organisers of the 2010 CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group conference, Rare but not Old.  It will help curators of all kinds of modern materials to deal with complex legal and preservation issues, and to share ideas about bringing the materials to wider audiences.  I will be talking about our successful recent project to do just that with our peace-related archives, the PaxCat Project.

2010 Conference Programme updated Jul 2010, updated July 2010

Rare Books Group Conference 2010 Booking form

Darwin and Huxley – a Bradford link

An intriguing find in a very shabby set of  “The life and letters of Charles Darwin”, edited by his son, Francis Darwin: a short letter from Thomas Henry Huxley,  “Darwin’s bulldog”.

Letter from T H Huxley

Letter from T H Huxley

The volumes belonged to Lawson Tait, who seems to have asked Huxley for a copy of his obituary of Darwin, which is inserted in vol. 1 with the accompanying letter.  The set came to Bradford in 1964.  The Huxley connection makes them interesting artefacts so they are now part of Special Collections.

The volume containing the letter is now on show at International Darwin Conference at the University of Bradford 24-26 September 2009.  The Conference is part of a programme of events celebrating Darwin’s links with Bradford.  After finishing the writing of “On the Origin of Species”, the exhausted Darwin came to Ilkley to take the water cure.  He sent out complimentary copies of this work and planned corrections for the second edition, the first already being oversubscribed and a reprint required.

Priestley and America – a special relationship?

The J.B. Priestley Society Annual Lecture at the Norcroft Centre, University of Bradford. Saturday 7 March 2009.

Roger Fagge, Associate Professor at the University of Warwick, will discuss Priestley’s views on the United States, a country he visited many times and which formed a key subject in his writings.  Priestley can easily be stereotyped as anti-American but his ideas are more subtle and interesting than that …

For further information and how to book a place:


What did Mr Miniver read?

This forthcoming conference will include plenty on J.B. Priestley.  Dr John Baxendale, who recently published “Priestley’s England”, will be a keynote speaker, and Special Collections Librarian Alison Cullingford is also contributing to discussion about Priestley and protest.

What Did Mr Miniver Read? The Fears and Aspirations of the “Masculine Middlebrow” Writer, 1880-1950. A two-day conference hosted by the Institute of English Studies, University of London 13-14 March 2009.

Find out more and register.