Something Worth Staying In For …

…. OK, maybe we don’t have much choice about that at the moment. But if you have to stay indoors, what better way to fill the time than listening to brilliant historians share their research?

On 11 January 2021, we launch our seminar series on Gender, Subjectivity, and “Everyday Health” in the Post-1945 World. We’re kicking off with Katrina-Louse Moseley, Peder Clark, Fabiola Creed, and Louise Morgan exploring ‘The “Beautiful” Female Body as a Site of Health, Pleasure and Harm in Modern Britain’, with papers on weight loss clubs, rave culture, tanning, and clean eating. This will followed later the same day by Professor Carol Tulloch’s keynote, ‘… and breathe. Style narratives, composing a life and wellbeing’.

The series will run until mid-June, with seminars taking place on a weekly or fortnightly basis. Over the next five months, we’ll hear from historians on different continents talking about topics from GPs’ waiting rooms to hair salons, dental dams to vasectomies, menstruation to menopause – in fact, from birth to death and nearly everything in between.

Like many things that have happened over the past year, we didn’t envisage the seminar series happening in quite this way. Our original aim was to hold a conference in April 2020. When that proved impossible, we hoped we’d be able to reschedule and meet in person sooner rather than later. But when it became clear that couldn’t happen, we decided to take the event online as a seminar series instead.

Turning a three-day conference into a seminar series has not been easy. We’ve tried very hard to make the seminar series accessible to as many people as possible. This has included scheduling papers at different times of day to ensure that those with childcare or work commitments will be able to attend some sessions, if not all; putting together guidelines on the accessibility of online presentations; and inviting registrations to let us know about any particular requirements beforehand so we can work with speakers to meet their needs.

Any extra work has all been worth it. Our speakers have been incredibly generous and adaptable in fitting in with new timetables – we can’t thank them enough. But we’ve also seen a flood of registrations for panels from across the globe. The seminar series will reach more people, in more different places, than the conference could ever have accommodated.

Inevitably, over the past nine months, most of us have been painfully aware of all the ways in which our worlds have shrunk. For those of us involved in setting it up, this seminar series represents some of the ways the world has expanded too, in unexpected but welcome directions. We are also looking forward to remembering what is best about being part of a research community – to hearing from enthusiastic, curious, compassionate, and engaged historians about the research they love; to learning from each other as part of a collaborative and supportive endeavour; to hearing, seeing, and actually feeling part of that community again. This isn’t what we first planned, but it’s definitely what we need in 2021.

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