HA Annual Conference round-up 2023

Majestic Hotel, Harrogate, 12-13 May 2023

Published: 19th May 2023

If you're interested in presenting in 2024, find details below. 

HA Annual Conference 2023, Harrogate

We hope everyone who was able to attend Annual Conference 2023 in-person or online has now managed to catch breath – because it really was quite a whirlwind of talks, workshops, creativity, famous names and of course history.      

It doesn't feel right to pick out individual speakers, as everyone was definitely bringing their top game to conference! Nonetheless it would be remiss not to mention that Professor Mary Beard retained her legendary status while she spoke about Roman emperors, polished villa walls and tapas murder dinners. Dr Hannah Greig and Sathnam Sanghera gave us a fascinating insight into the making of television and film, providing views on how history is brought to life on the screen and how the media has helped shape our views of history. Meanwhile the queue for all these speakers at the Roving Books stalls wound its way around the hall and everyone got a bit history-heroes giddy.

It was sadly Professor Peter Mandler’s last conference as HA President but fortunately he has agreed to remain on the Board of Trustees. So we will still see Peter at future conferences, though not for the Friday morning keynote – which is a shame as we have all learned so much about how the way that education has changed historically has influenced what is taught and how we relate to it.

The Dawson Lecture that recognises outstanding contributors to education had its second year, with Martin Spafford delivering the 2023 talk to a full room. He made everyone reflect on ‘how young people should feel about history’ and what role we can play to develop an understanding and respect for it. Of course, in between the outstanding keynotes talks were workshops on pedagogy, subject knowledge and recent research into many areas of history and history teaching. Topics included linking the Ancient World at Primary level, and developing students’ understanding of the planetary crisis in Secondary history lessons. The General strand had a trip, a walk and lectures on subjects as varied as Medievalism and the image of Samurais in Japan, which opened our eyes wide to a location and period of which we knew nothing but now want to know more; and then to global 19th century politics and the original ‘fake news’.

In between intellectual stimulation there was good food, an engaging exhibition space and thankfully places to sit down. Not that sitting down happened much as most people wanted to keep moving just not to miss out on the variety of things to see, engage with and discuss.

Each HA conference starts to be created as the last one finishes. Ideas about what content we should seek come to mind and how things can be improved. We have a call for papers, and we look forward to the abstracts and creative ideas of potential presenters as they begin to come in. Some of our planning and preparation is influenced by the conference location. For 2023 this was certainly a key point as we approached academics for the general strand and explored ideas for trips and visits around Liverpool. And then Eurovision hit, and many months of planning suddenly had to be replanned. Three weeks before conference train strikes were announced, and they crossed over exactly with the conference days. Yet, despite #HAConf23 beginning to seem like the cursed conference everything turned out in the end – in fact it turned out rather well. So, thank you Harrogate for having us and thank you to everyone who made it work and came along. Fingers crossed for a smoother journey next year but a no less exhilarating conference weekend.

Next year we will be in Birmingham on 10-11 May 2024 – it would be a shame to miss it! Save the date and register your interest at conference@history.org.uk

Those who bought Virtual attendance packages will be able access the recorded sessions until 28 July 2023.

Call for papers 2024

The call for papers for 2024 is now live until 25 September 2023 (see link below) and we welcome proposals for education sessions. Full details and more information about presenting at the conference can be found in the guidance notes available to download below.

Attached files: