Enlightenment, Science and Culture in the East Midlands conference

Enlightenment, Science and Culture in the East Midlands c1700-1900

Saturday 22nd June 2013

University of Derby


This conference examines the impact of scientific and intellectual cultures in the English East Midland counties of Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland between 1700 and 1900. Social and economic developments in the period brought major changes including urbanisation and the industrial development of the Derwent Valley and larger county towns. The sciences impacted upon regional culture in many ways facilitated by associations such as the Spalding Gentleman’s Society, Derby Philosophical Society and Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society, whilst public lectures and new institutions such as mechanics’ institutes brought new audiences to the sciences. Bringing together local historians, academics, museum and heritage professionals and others, this conference will explore the various manifestations of science and intellectual cultures in the region including interconnections between the sciences, art, heritage and the built environment. Keynote speakers include Professor Ruth Watts, Emeritus Professor of the History of Education at the University of Birmingham.



Enlightenment, Science and Technology: science and industry; scientific culture, individuals, experiments, inventions and patents, scientific societies. Geographies of the production and dissemination of science, the home, clubs and societies; local, regional and global dimensions; the impact of the agricultural revolution in the region; science and farming, agricultural societies, gardening and horticulture; science and medicine, public health, medical societies;

Urban Science: the role of towns in the development of science and scientific cultures; urban scientific institutions including associations, museums and mechanics’ institutes; science and urban typologies; civic science; urban competition and rivalry; town and countryside;

Representations of Science, Technology and Industry: these include within historical writing, guide books and travel literature, architecture, the literary and visual arts such as landscape painting, literature and music; scientific and intellectual dimensions of prominent artists with strong regional associations.

Science, Class, Gender, Religion and Ethnicity: the relationship between scientific and intellectual cultures and the shaping of élites, the emergence of the middle and working classes and relationships between them; female identity and public position; poverty and wealth; civic science and politics (libraries, museums, galleries, parks etc.) local government including the activities of individuals and associations such as political reform societies and chartists; migration and intellectual cultures, the development of minority communities and the role and experience of individuals within these communities; relationships between science and religion, including all forms of belief that flourished in the region in the period.


There will also be a specific panel for women’s writing and culture. Please contact Teresa Barnard (t.barnard@derby.ac.uk) for details.


Heritage and Historiography of East Midland Sciences and Enlightenment: impact of new theoretical approaches; study and representation of East Midland sciences in museums and heritage institutions; community engagement with local and regional scientific history; the use of new technology to engage with the region’s Enlightenment past including approaches to digitisation, GIS mapping and visualisation.

Outcomes: A selection of papers presented at the conference will be published in a book.

Venue: this conference is hosted by the Centre for Identity, Conflict and Representation in the Faculty of Arts, Design and Technology at the University of Derby and will be held at the Enterprise Centre on Bridge Street in Derby, close to the city centre.

Cost of the conference: £20: £15 students and unwaged. Includes refreshments.

Contributions: The conference organisers welcome contributions from scholars within and outside universities, including research students and local historians; perspectives are invited from different disciplines, including cultural, social, economic and women’s history, industrial archaeology, landscape studies, history of art and architecture, heritage studies, literature and the social sciences. Potential contributions might focus on any one of the themes above, cross boundaries between them or offer a perspective on a relevant subject which is not indicated in the above list.


Potential contributors for 20 minute papers should send a proposal: title, description (250 words max), biography (100 words max) as an e-mail attachment in word with contact details to Paul Elliott p.elliott@derby.ac.uk or t.barnard@derby.ac.uk before 31 December 2012.


Paul Elliott, Reader in Modern History, School of Humanities, University of Derby, Kedleston Road, Derby, DE22 1GB, UK

Teresa Barnard, Lecturer in English, School of Humanities, University of Derby, Kedleston Road, Derby, DE22 1GB, UK