RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014

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278 New and emerging research in postgraduate historical geography (3)
Affiliation Historical Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Alice Insley (The University of Nottingham, UK)
Natalie Cox (The University of Warwick / Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), UK)
Julian Baker (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
Chair(s) Natalie Cox (The University of Warwick / Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), UK)
Timetable Thursday 28 August 2014, Session 4 (16:50 - 18:30)
Room Sherfield/SALC Building, Read Lecture Theatre
Session abstract This session aims to provide an informal and relaxed forum for postgraduates undertaking research in historical geography to present at a major conference. Building upon past successful HGRG postgraduate sessions, it is hoped that a friendly and supportive atmosphere will produce stimulating debates on the issues raised and provide postgraduates with helpful feedback on their work. There is no chronological or geographical limit to papers and they can be variously theoretical, empirical and/or methodological in orientation. Papers are encouraged from postgraduate students at any stage of their PhD research, or Masters dissertation topics.
Linked Sessions New and emerging research in postgraduate historical geography (1)
New and emerging research in postgraduate historical geography (2)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2014@rgs.org
Methodism as Designed Space (1851-1932)?
Ruth Mason (University College London, UK)
Nineteenth-century Methodism was conducted in various different locations: chapels, circuits, mission halls, Sunday schools, town halls and streets. Some of these sites were specifically constructed for that purpose, while others were appropriated; most had physical forms that could be seen and touched, but others were conceptual constructs; and none were stable or static, their physical form, purpose and users constantly changing. Using metropolitan Methodism between 1851 and 1932 as its case study, this paper will consider various Methodist spaces and what they can reveal about religious practice and experience; can nineteenth and early twentieth century Methodism be better understood through the spaces it designed?

Divided into various denominations during the nineteenth century, Methodism was nonetheless united by three theologically determined principles: divine worship, connextionalism and evangelism. Committed to praising God, fostering closer relationships within the Methodist fellowship and reaching out to the ‘unchurched’, nineteenth-century Methodist space had multiple uses and users. The designs and uses of some spaces were heavily influenced by stipulations made by the official Methodist bureaucracy, while others were the result of local decisions and preferences. Consequently, considering Methodist space as the product of function, occupants, physical form and the material items positioned in - and moving around - it, this paper will explore how studying space can illuminate tensions between official ideals and the practiced and experienced realities of nineteenth-century Methodism.

Interested in materiality’s contribution to studies of historical and religious experience, this paper will discuss thoughts being developed in my PhD thesis about the place of materiality within geographical approaches to religion and history. Additionally, it will demonstrate my thesis’s endeavour to re-address the current imbalance in material studies of religion, which have rarely been concerned with the material traditions of protestant nonconformists.
Alexander Ormiston Curle and the early years of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland
Richard Sobolewski (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland was established by Royal Warrant in 1908 tasked with surveying Scotland’s ancient and historical monuments, creating an inventory of Scottish heritage. These surveys and, indeed, the story of the Commission and its history is dominated by a handful of key individuals who dedicated their lives not only to the Commission but to antiquarianism. Alexander Ormiston Curle was one such individual. In 1908 Curle was the Commission secretary. A keen antiquarian, Curle was instrumental in the early years of the Commission. Armed with his bicycle, journal and sketchbook he began the first survey in Berwickshire in the summer of 1908. His first journal entry begins; ‘the private journal of a wandering antiquary.’ Over the coming months Curle would cycle, often in excess of twenty miles, across the length and breadth of Berwickshire systematically noting and sketching the ancient and historic monuments of the county.


Curle’s journals and diaries allow us a fascinating insight into the life and practices of one dedicated individual who devoted his life to antiquarianism. Curle’s dedication was not unique, he was part of a network of antiquarians and through the archival records of the Royal Commission we can begin to delve into the lives of these individuals. I argue that exploring these ‘small stories’ (Lorimer, 2003) allows us both the opportunity to comprehend the ways in which the work of heritage organisations is articulated through a network of specialist individuals, whilst also enabling us to glean insight of the wider historical geographical context of knowledge production in which this occurred.
From Place to Space: Evolving Representations of the Canadian Arctic in the Mid-Nineteenth Century
Eavan O’Dochartaigh (National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)
Between 1847 and 1859, thirty-nine search expeditions were launched to the Canadian Arctic to search for Sir John Franklin and his missing crew. The search expeditions produced extensive artistic and literary material – hundreds of drawings, paintings, letters, poems and diaries were created in response to the arctic environment. Institutions such as the National Maritime Museum, Scott Polar Research Institute and National Archives UK now hold a significant portion of that creative output and this paper will draw on primary source material held in these repositories.

When the expeditions returned, the oeuvre they brought with them sustained an ever growing interest in the Arctic and fuelled the imagined geography of the region. Yet, once they had crossed the boundary of the Atlantic, these images and writings went through processes of transformation that resulted in the projection of a very different Arctic to the general public in Britain.

By looking at the observations and aesthetics in the visual material (watercolours, pencil sketches and ink drawings) and their associated texts such as notes, captions or attached poems, this paper will elucidate how the ‘place’ represented by travellers differed significantly from the ‘space’ consumed by the public. This was, in the main, due to the more dramatic representation of the Arctic in the media as a space to be battled, a space in which merely surviving constituted a victory.

This paper aims to reveal the complex image of the Arctic in nineteenth-century society and to suggest in turn how these transformed images influenced Britain’s future interaction with the polar regions.
Works of Travel in an Age of High Empire: John Murray III and Domestic Markets for the Far Away, c.1859-1892
Anne Peale (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
I explore the role of John Murray III and the house of Murray in publishing works of travel and exploration in the later nineteenth century, drawing on the fields of historical geography, book history, and the history of science. The John Murray Archive in the National Library of Scotland is a rich resource for study of the writing, making, and marketing of works of travel. The most complete historic publishing archive in the UK, its correspondence files, ledger books, and other business records trace the activity of a leading British publisher. Scholars have examined the archive in studies of individual explorers such as Charles Darwin, David Livingstone, and Isabella Bird, but the full scope of Murray’s travel publications in the second half of the nineteenth century has yet to be examined. Murray’s authors had many different motivations for their travels; some were part of scientific expeditions, military campaigns, commercial operations, or missionary efforts. All of Murray’s travelers, however, returned home with at least one marketable commodity: the account of their journeys. I interrogate the relationship between authors, editors, and publisher to characterize how in-the-field experiences of explorers and travelers were translated into printed narratives. I will consider several of the more than two hundred books of travel and exploration Murray published in the period 1859-1892 to trace a full circle of publication history, from conception and authorship, to editing, physical production, marketing, and reception.
Instruments of exploration: Technologies of geographical enquiry c.1860-c.1939
Jane Wess (The University of Edinburgh / Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), UK)
The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) holds a collection of instruments lent out to travellers between 1860 and 1939. The collection is little-known and is unique in that it was assembled for use in the field rather than for in a laboratory or a museum, at a time of rapid growth of the British Empire. The research questions for this collaborative PhD project focus on the role of these instruments in providing authority through quantitative results, supporting the emergence of geography as a discipline, and identifying ‘explorers’ as distinct from mere travellers.

The project is utilising the archives of the RGS-IBG primarily, both the instruments and the paper repository, to answer a number of research questions ranging from the epistemic to the inferred. Actor-network theory (ANT), as developed by Bruno Latour in particular, has provided an enlightening analysis of the activities of the principal players, but has not been found suitable as a working methodology.

This paper will introduce the project and the relevant literature, describe the archival material, suggest some research questions, and relay some early results.