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The Home in Modern History and Culture will be the second in a series of three thematic workshops for our 'Florence Nightingale Comes Home for 2020' project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
Following the first successful event on nineteenth-century healthcare, this second workshop seeks to examine, from multiple disciplinary perspectives, the broad theme of 'Home' and its applicability as a prism through which to understand historical change.
'Home' is an elusive notion, lacking a permanent definition; it is a concept that is manifested through specific places and at specific times yet also transcends these. Edwin Heathcote, in The Meaning of Home (2012), wrote that homes are 'receptacles of both personal and collective memory, containers of meaning and symbol'.
The history of the home unavoidably overlaps with histories of gender, work and architecture, geographies of mobility, and cultural and literary readings of concepts such as domesticity, the family, and privacy.
In recent decades, these concepts have become fundamental to readings of modern social history, not least in the 19th century. For example, scholars use domesticity as a prism through which to investigate the history of public buildings, institutions and public spaces, alongside the Foucauldian paradigm of power and control.
The case of Florence Nightingale demonstrates the richness and elasticity of the term ‘home’. Home for Nightingale meant variously a childhood sanctuary, a prison constraining women's energy, the object of sanitary reform, a communal place for nurses to live and study, a spiritual refuge, and the place one went to after death. These ideas will be explored in the forthcoming book Florence Nightingale At Home, to be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2020.
While the team's focus is on 19th-century Britain, the workshop welcomes contributions from a range of periods and locations. Papers are invited from specialists in history, literature, geography, architecture, material culture, or other scholars with new/distinctive perspectives on the history and culture of the home.