Seminar Programme 2014-2015

‘History Outside The Box: Speculations and Provocations’


Department of History Research in Progress, 2014-2015

How do speculation and provocation figure in a historian’s work? This year’s seminar series theme ‘outside the box’ invites postgraduate research students to reflect on the role speculation and provocation play in starting a new research project. The theme can apply to research topic(s), research questions, theory, methodology, source materials, or case studies.

Speakers are invited to push forward, test and discuss research projects and ideas in the encouraging and supportive environment of the history department. The theme offers a chance to reflect on boxes we find ourselves in, whether methodological, chronological, professional or otherwise, and consider how these may shape, help, or hinder our research. We hope that these seminars will lead to considered speculation and helpful provocation. Speakers are encouraged to consider the place of speculation and provocation in their research process; whether through engagement with unorthodox sources, writing about a sensitive subject, or incorporating untested methods.

Over the academic year, we will have presentations from postgraduate research students that showcase the great diversity of research projects in King’s department of history. Each seminar will feature two presenters speaking on two distinct but related periods, regions, and/or themes. Seminars will thereby explore creative connections and tensions between the presenters’ different perspectives on how their research challenges established avenues in research.

Questions for consideration include:

  • Why as historians should we challenge traditional frameworks?
  • What role might uncertainty and speculation play in your research?
  • What box(es) would you put yourself in, or outside of, as a historian?
  • What challenges emerge as a result of ‘boxing ourselves in’?
  • Do we even need to box ourselves into particular categories?
  • Can or should historians do research with the aim to provoke?
  • Should the historian speculate?
  • Are there challenges to ‘stepping outside the box’ as a PhD student?

If you have any questions, or would like to present on your work, please write to: Dr Jennifer Altehenger (

The seminar series is organised by the seminar team:

Previous years themes:

2013-14: The Historian’s Toolkit

2012-13: The Archive

Term 1

 (Week 7) Seminar date: Monday, 10 November 2014,4-6pm, Room K2.31

‘Networks and Biographies’

Fallon Mody, ‘How Many is Too Many? Method, considerations and constraints’

Laura Forster, ‘Historical Footprints: who matters? Finding networks, choosing case studies, and the question of representation’

(Week 9) Seminar date: Monday, 24 November 2014, 4-6pm, Room K2.31

‘Through the Looking Glass: Up Close to Your Historical Subject’

Chibundu Onuzo: ‘The West African Students Union’

Richard Farrimond: ‘Birdie – Soul of Anzac’

9 December: Conference Paper Workshop (KCL/UCL) & End-of-term Party


Term 2

 (Week 2) Monday, 19 January 2015, 4-6pm, Room 2E

‘Sympathy for the Devil: tracing fear and resistance in popular imagination.’

Emma Mackie, ‘The Triumph of God’s Revenge? The devil in Reformist murder literature’

Brian Wallace, ‘Resisting the Yellow Peril in Britain, 1893-1900’

(Week 4) Monday, 2 February, 4-6pm, Room S0.11

‘Fear and Politics’

Millad Farahani: ‘The Little Satan: The fear of Britain in Iranian politics’

Christian Felby: ‘Fear and Loathing and Alarmism: Sources and the reception of invasion scares’

(Week 7): Monday, 2 March, Room: S-2.25

‘Questioning Separate Spheres: Weaving together historical threads’

Miranda Reading: ‘Deeds AND Words: linking ideas, culture and political actions in the reform of manners.’

James Fisher: ‘Divisions of Labour: Avoiding historical boxes in a study of eighteenth-century agricultural work’

(Week 9) Seminar date: Thursday, 19 March, Time: tbc, Room: tbc

‘Women and Slaves in Medieval Europe: Some New Approaches’

Janel Fontaine: ‘The Archaeology of Slavery in Britain and Ireland: a methodological approach’

Kenneth Duggan: ‘Gendered Experiences? Women and crime in England, 1216-1307’

(Week 10): Book Party (organized by Alex Sapoznik)

(Catch-up week) 31 March, 2-6pm: Workshop – How Historians Work and Write