Theo Williams (PhD student, KCL) discusses an international collaborative event offering outstanding opportunities to research students at KCL and UNC.
The UNC-KCL Transatlantic Historical Approaches Workshop is an annual event that brings together postgraduate research students at King’s College London and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Students form a two-person panel with a student from the partner institution and deliver papers based on their research interests. This year the workshop’s theme is ‘protest, revolt, and revolution’, which will be interpreted broadly. The first leg of the workshop will be held in London on 10-11 May 2018, and the second leg will be held in Chapel Hill on 10-11 September 2018. Funding will be provided for travel expenses and three nights’ accommodation.
I’m one of the student organisers for this year’s workshop, after attending last year’s workshop as a speaker. The theme last year was ‘performance and performativity’, and featured papers on topics such as blackness in eighteenth-century England, Mardi Gras Indians in New Orleans, and feminist dystopias of the 1930s, as well as my own paper on C.L.R. James’s play, Toussaint Louverture. Academics from KCL and UNC acted as commentators on each of the panels, providing students with the opportunity for them to have their work read by experienced historians, thereby gaining valuable feedback. On the second day of the London workshop, Professor Paul Readman presented his work on historical pageants in twentieth-century Britain, and Professor Daniel Sherman (UNC) gave a paper on the 1906-07 Fêtes de Carthage.
The workshop’s participants had fruitful discussions with other historians working in the same field, as well as those working on topics with completely different geographical and chronological parameters. But all of the papers brought to the workshop an interpretation of ‘performance and performativity’, challenging historians to think about thematic linkages even to research seemingly far removed from their own. The same is sure to happen this year, with ‘protest, revolt, and revolution’ touching every period and place of history.
The workshop also has a fantastic social element. Dinner and drinks are provided each night, with many participants then continuing to socialise informally later in the evening (and perhaps even the early hours of the morning!). Additionally, the workshop’s programme contains historic and cultural activities. Last year, the group visited the Tate Modern during the London leg. In North Carolina, we visited the American Tobacco Historic District in Durham. Many students also used the workshop as an opportunity to visit other places in the US, including New York and New Orleans.
Both legs of the workshop thus helped to foster stronger links between researchers in London and North Carolina, and between academics and PhD students. Through the contacts I made during the workshop I was introduced to another UNC PhD student who works on a similar topic to me, and recently went for dinner with him when he visited London.
Needless to say, we hope to replicate the elements that made last year’s workshop such a success.
If you’re a History PhD student at KCL and are interested in applying for the workshop, please send the following to firstname.lastname@example.org by 15 January 2018:
1) An abstract of no more than 300 words describing the work you wish to present at the workshop. Please also indicate where you are in your studies and the date by which you plan to complete your degree.
2) A copy of your CV.
If you have any further questions about the workshop, please contact me at email@example.com.