Conferences and workshops organised by Newnham academics
Junior Research Fellows are encouraged to organize a research event during their time at Newnham, as a way of showcasing Newnham and at the same time furthering the JRF's own career. The College provides a substantial subsidy. Two events have been held so far, and a third is scheduled for Easter 2010. Details are given below.
Kant workshop11-13 September 2008, Newnham College (Alix Cohen)
Thanks to a new research scheme pioneered by Newnham, I was given the opportunity to organize an event of my choice linked to my research as a Junior Research Fellow. I set out to organize it with the invaluable help of Mary Beard and Onora O’Neill. They both suggested to steer clear of the traditional conference format and make the most of this one-off opportunity, namely £10,000 and the complete freedom to invite whomever I wanted, whenever I wanted, to do whatever I wanted (within reasonable limits of course!).
So the format I settled on was to invite my favorite Kantians from all over the world, and get them to talk to each other around a big table – no papers given, just people chatting for three days. Thanks to the newly refurbished Lucia Windsor room above the buttery, the table was easy to find. And thanks to the catering department, and Peter and Marilyn in particular, we had plenty of food and drink to sustain our discussions.
I was lucky enough to have the crème de la crème of Kant scholars agree to attend the event: Barbara Herman (UCLA), Susan Shell (Boston College), and Tom Hill (Chapel Hill) amongst the many participants from the USA, Pauline Kleingeld from Holland, Ricardo Pozzo from Italy, Monique Castillo from France, Howard Williams from Wales, Ido Geiger from Israel, Rudiger Bittner from Germany – it was a truly international crowd, with many local Kantians also joining the party, including Nick Jardine and of course Onora O’Neill, who kindly agreed to play the host at the conference dinner in hall.
All in all, everyone had an amazing time, and I am truly grateful to Newnham for allowing me to put together such an inspiring event.
Unconventional WisdomsApril 2009, Newnham College (Laura Beers)
The inter-war period has recently become an important and stimulating field for many historians, yet has produced a remarkably fragmented historiography. “Unconventional Wisdoms”, a two-day conference organized by Dr. Laura Beers and held at Newnham in April 2009, brought together 20 scholars from both Britain and America whose research focuses on some aspect of interwar history -- political, social, cultural or imperial. These men and women were encouraged to forge a dialog across sub-disciplines. The papers presented addressed a wide range of topics, including local reception of national political discourses, the rise of black intellectualism in metropolitan London, and the new social study of ‘morale’ in the management of the industrial workplace. The discussants included several renowned scholars in the field, and the conference concluded with a plenary session led by the Oxford academic and LRB commentator Ross McKibbin
Questioning 'Credible Commitment': Re-thinking the Glorious Revolution and the Rise of Financial Capitalism
20-23 March 2010, Newnham College (D'Maris Coffman)
Douglass North & Barry Weingast’s seminal article on ‘credible commitment’ has proven the most influential explanation of the economic and financial significance of the Revolution of 1688/89. They argued that the establishment of parliamentary supremacy over public finance created an environment in which investors could rely upon the state to meet its financial promises. The Financial Revolution, upon which Britain’s rise to great power status was founded, followed from this development. For nearly twenty years, this synthesis enjoyed wide acceptance among historians, economists, and political and legal theorists. Recent revisionist scholarship has challenged the key tenets of the ‘credible commitment’ thesis, but no new consensus has emerged to explain why investors placed their trust and capital in the British state over its foreign rivals. Our goal is not only to draw together revisionist scholarship on the ‘credible commitment’ thesis, but also to construct a new consensus on how trust in British financial markets and institutions developed and why it endured. This will allow scholars in allied disciplines to reformulate theoretical relationships between public finance and private capital.