MARCUS Events: Spring 2018

The Medieval and Ancient Research Centre at the University of Sheffield (MARCUS) brings together a concentration of research and teaching expertise that is unique within the UK. Ranging from archaic Greece to Renaissance Europe, MARCUS represents an array of disciplines, from history to biblical studies, from philosophy to languages, and from archaeology to music. What holds us together is the belief that the social structures, cultural expressions and individual experiences of this period are at the foundation of the world we live in today. MARCUS co-ordinates a regular seminar series and organises other events, both for specialists and for the interested public. You can follow MARCUS on Twitter: @MedAndAncient

To find details of MARCUS events running in the Spring semester of 2018 please click here


Professor Adrian Bingham wins Royal Historical Society Public History Prize

The impact of collaborative research by three historians at the Universities of Sheffield, Cambridge, and Edinburgh has been recognised by the Royal Historical Society at its Public History Prize awards 2018. The team –   Professor Adrian Bingham (Sheffield), Dr Lucy Delap (Cambridge), and Professor Louise Jackson (Edinburgh) – were the winners of the Public Debate and Policy category, for their work in promoting deeper understanding of experiences of child sexual abuse and responses to it in England and Wales between 1918 and 1990. Initial research (funded by the ESRC) analysed newspaper reporting, legal contexts and social work practices.  The team have given talks for non-academic groups, published briefing papers, and undertaken consultancy and media work, and their work has been used in relation to official inquiries.

Their work has been assisted by History & Policy, a national partnership that brings together historians, journalists and policy makers.

More information about the team project and links to History & Policy Briefing Papers can be found here:

More information about the Royal Historical Society Public History Prize awards can be found here:

Call for Papers: ‘Suicide, Society and Crisis’

May 18 @ 9:00 am – May 19 @ 5:00 pm
Humanities Research Institute
University of Sheffield, 18-19 May 2018

A Symposium funded by the Wellcome Trust (Seed Award)

We welcome proposals for papers, panels or posters that consider various aspects of the relationship between mental health crises (and suicide more specifically) and social, political, economic and international crises from both historical and contemporary perspectives.

Please send paper proposals of approximately 250 words and a short bio to and, by 9 March 2018.

Those selected to participate will be notified by the end of March. There will be no conference fee, and some funding is available to cover speakers’ travel (within the UK) and accommodation in Sheffield. For further information and updates, visit:

Globally and at many times in history, instances and rates of suicide have been hugely symbolic resources for making statements about society. The key goal of this symposium is to investigate the links between suicide and socio-political crisis, at macro and micro levels. We seek to test psychological, psychiatric, sociological and historical theories about how dramatic socio-political change is internalised by individuals. In particular, we will explore how moments of ‘crisis’ —a term which must itself be problematised— determine how suicides are recorded, represented and perceived, and whether the incidence and nature of personal crisis can be linked to broader, national events. Our research questions include but are not limited to:

• What kind of correlations have been made, past and present, between public and personal crisis?

• Do suicide statistics (which should themselves be carefully scrutinised) vary in times of socio-political crisis, and, if so, why?

• How do psychiatrists and pathologists, historians and social scientists, jurists and coroners, politicians, the media and the public understand suicide epidemics as symptomatic of instability and of collective crises?

A deeper understanding of historical and sociological patterns in suicide epidemiology can be achieved by pooling research findings, synergizing methods, and jointly developing interdisciplinary conceptual models. These understandings should also inform policy and practice, and we aim to develop strategies to raise public awareness and inform mental health policy-makers and practitioners. The symposium provides us with the opportunity to make new connections between scholars from across the disciplines, charities and third sector organizations, the media and policy-makers, and to plan ahead for collaborative projects and follow-on funding.

This two-day international symposium has been made possible by a Wellcome Seed Award supporting Dr Julie V. Gottlieb’s project ‘Suicide, Society and Crisis’, and it is supported by Medical Humanities Sheffield. Dr Gottlieb is working on a case study of an apparent suicide epidemic triggered by war fear during the Munich Crisis and its fallout (1938-39). This and other historical examples strongly resonate with contemporary suicide epidemics linked to dramatic social change: suicide and PTSD in the Iraq Wars; increase in suicides since the 2008 Financial Crisis; mental health issues in refugee communities; right up to the psychological fallout of Britain’s EU referendum.

We are delighted to welcome Prof Mathew Thomson (University of Warwick) as our keynote speaker. Plenary speakers include Dr Maria Teresa Brancaccio, Dr Sarah Chaney, Dr Moritz Föllmer, Dr Christian Goeschel, Dr Julie Gottlieb, Dr Laura King, Dr David Lederer, Dr Ian March, Prof Janet Miron, Dr Chris Millard, Dr China Mills, Prof Sarah Waters, and Prof Phil Withington.


Conference: Cold-War Home Fronts: Comparative Approaches

Cold-War Home Fronts: Comparative Approaches”, University of Sheffield, 26-27 January 2018

January 26 – January 27

Conference Programme – Call for Papers

Registration Link

For four decades after the end of the Second World War, competition between the socialist and capitalist blocs shaped international relations on a global scale. For the main protagonists, the USA, USSR, and their near neighbours in Europe, it was a deferred conflict, but also, paradoxically, a ‘total war’ for which citizens must be ever-vigilant. The aim of this conference is to consider the ‘home fronts’ in those countries deeply implicated in the Cold War but removed from the fighting. How did the Cold War transform domestic politics and culture? What were the limits of the Cold War’s domestic reach? And were there common experiences of the Cold War on both sides of the conflict?

In this 2-day conference we hope to address the following themes and questions:

  • Were cultural and political elites able to create and sustain widespread support for the Cold War conflict?
  • How was the national community and its enemy ‘other’ imagined?
  • Did ideological difference shape the way the Cold War was legitimised?
  • How far were these efforts disrupted by counter-cultural or radical groups?
  • What was the impact of this ‘imaginary war’ on conceptions of family, childhood, and gender?
  • How did the nuclear arms proliferation, disarmament and industry affect local communities, the landscape, and the environment?
  • How did the ‘religious cold war’ affect faith communities at home?
  • In what ways did the global crusade to export liberal democracy / socialism to the post-colonial world shape identities back home?
  • How were definitions of citizenship, rights, and duties reconfigured by the cold war?

We particularly welcome papers adopting a comparative approach, but recognize that some potential contributors might prefer to focus on specific national experiences. We will devise panels in such a way as to encourage comparative discussion during each session.

Papers (max 5000 words) will be pre-circulated to participants to facilitate comparative discussion.

We hope to produce a journal special issue based on a small selection of papers depending on the outcomes of the conference.

We will be able to provide accommodation for participants and contribute towards travel funds.

If you are interested, please send abstracts (max 300 words) to Miriam Dobson ( by Thursday 21 September 2017.

Convenors: Miriam DobsonEirini KaramouziSarah Miller-Davenport

Exhibition: Criminal Lives, 1780-1925: Punishing Old Bailey Convicts

The exhibition Criminal Lives, 1780-1925: Punishing Old Bailey Convicts is based on research by historians at the University of Sheffield and partner universities that has traced the lives of British convicts from the 18th and 19th centuries. Produced by the Arts and Humanities Research Council Digital Panopticon project in partnership with the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), the exhibition combines original Victorian photographs, documents and prints from the city’s archives with convict life stories uncovered by the Digital Panopticon project. It also includes items such as a Victorian policeman’s truncheon, a reproduction Millbank Prison uniform and convicts’ photographs drawn from collections in Britain and Australia.

The exhibition sheds light on the lives of convicts from the Gordon Riots in 1780 to the early 20th century, including prostitute and pickpocket Charlotte Walker; Ikey Solomons, the notorious receiver of stolen goods; and serial thief Thomas Limpus, who was transported to Africa, America and Australia. Bob Shoemaker, Professor of History at the University of Sheffield, said: “This exhibition brings together a fascinating set of records from the LMA’s collections and other archives to show how the reformatory prison became the chief form of punishment in our judicial system. By using convict life stories to explain the origins of the modern prison, we hope that ‘Criminal Lives’ will help viewers see punishment in a new light.”

Criminal Lives, 1780-1925: Punishing Old Bailey Convicts opens in December 2017 at the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) and will be on display until 16 May 2018. For visitor information, see here.

The Digital Panopticon project’s website, which enables users to trace the lives of British convicts imprisoned or transported to Australia, features on a new second year module for history students at the University of Sheffield.