Everything you need to know about LHPC 2022
The LHPC Team
This year marked the 26th annual Lancaster Historical Postgraduate Conference (LHPC) and the second conference to be held in a hybrid format. The conference hosted forty presenters from eighteen institutions and six countries, one of the most international iterations of the conference to date.
The conference was held on Monday 27th and Tuesday 28th of June 2022 and, alongside our presenters, featured a Keynote from Durham University’s Dr David Petts on the transformations in thinking over the site of medieval Lindisfarne. This year also featured our first interdisciplinary Faculty Panel featuring Dr Fiona Edmonds and Dr James Taylor of the History Department at Lancaster University and Professor Julia Gillen from the Department of Linguistics and English Language, also at Lancaster University. This year’s conference dinner, where attendees enjoyed a meal of up to three courses, was held at Greaves Park in Lancaster city.
Following the conference, the Organising Committee reflected on the conference and put together their thoughts on their experiences at the conference and their experience of putting the conference event together.
In February 2022, I met with a few friends from our 2019-20 History MA cohort at Lancaster Castle to welcome an old coursemate back to the UK. Here, I was asked to help organise HistFest, and I thought, ‘Why not?’. I knew I would be starting my PhD at Lancaster in the autumn and wanted to spend more time with Lancaster’s postgraduate History community, who had been so welcoming when I moved here in 2019. I am currently employed in an administrative role at Lancaster University, so I mostly tackled administrative tasks, like risk assessment forms. A few weeks later, I was asked to write a paper for HistFest.
I particularly enjoyed sorting the papers we accepted into panels. This required some thought. We had excellent papers that could not be grouped well, but we were loath to drop, and large groups of similarly themed (and excellent!) papers – especially on Italian history – that could not be grouped together. We split the task of informing our applicants of their success, and I was so enthusiastic that I ended up ‘marking’ the papers I took home with me.
Sadly, due to work commitments, I missed three-quarters of HistFest. But I valued the chance to speak at a conference for the first time! My talk went surprisingly quickly – it is remarkable how you can go off on one about an issue you care about. I enjoyed the few other papers I did get to see, and I was reminded of how listening to colleagues in different fields and areas can stimulate your own research. I enjoyed the conference so much that I have volunteered to run next year’s organisation committee! I am looking forward to participating in the process earlier and taking on a more active full-time role.
LHPC 2022 was my first time experiencing the conference, with Covid exposure keeping me from last year’s event. I have always been enthusiastic about sharing my research, and LHPC provided an opportunity to do so with a friendly and enthusiastic audience. LHPC was also my first time presenting at a conference, showcasing my research on the early medieval landscape of Nithsdale. One of the greatest benefits of the LHPC format is its interdisciplinarity. Through a shared theme with all of the other delegates, we can share our methods and resources on topics which otherwise could have very little in common. I found the questions I received invigorating, even if I won't find myself canoeing up the River Nith as one question asked.
Presentations aside, the opportunity to meet other postgraduate students and share our research and experiences was interesting and reassuring. Seeing the full spectrum of postgraduate study was also reassuring; seeing both the beginning and the end of PhD projects gave me perspective on my own work and my own project’s progress. The conference dinner really helped to facilitate these opportunities in a friendly and relaxed environment.
This was also my first time helping to organise an event of this scale, and while challenging and intense at times, we managed to pull together an event that facilitated conversations between both our attendees and their wider networks. With the introduction of various new aspects to the conference, such as our digital business cards and a broadened, interdisciplinary Faculty Panel, this year has stood proud amongst the other twenty-five years of Lancaster Historical Postgraduate Conferences. With both the mood of our attendees throughout the conference and the feedback we have received since I certainly think we pulled off a successful event that was enjoyed by everyone involved.
LHPC 2022, formerly HistFest, was my third as a delegate and my first as an organiser. I first attended in 2019 during my career break before I started my MA at Lancaster University the following October. With LHPC 2020 cancelled during the pandemic, I next attended in 2021 when I made my presenting debut with my paper which questioned notions of regressive taxation practices in late-eighteenth-century Britain.
It would be fair to deduce that I am an enthusiast! What I valued most about LHPC was the opportunity to hear papers on a wide range of historical subjects, which I would rarely get to hear, being occupied by my micro-field of late-eighteenth-century fiscal history. Meeting other PG students and ECRs is always enjoyable and stimulating, with the conference dinner and drinks a highlight! LHPC is also a wonderfully supportive forum in which to present. It is fair to say (for me at least) that presenting one’s own research can be a little daunting. The audience at LHPC is ‘in the same boat’, with a great deal of interest in each other’s work and supportive, inquiring questions.
I leapt at the opportunity to get involved in making it happen. After 26 years, LHPC is a precious and valuable creature and helping preserve the conference’s legacy and make it bigger and better than ever was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.
Judging by the very generous feedback from delegates – I think the team succeeded!
I had limited experience of conferences before organising LHPC 2022, so I had little idea of what to anticipate. It has definitely been a learning curve! It was a privilege to share my work on eighteenth-century Irish Sea smuggling with a very kind audience of fellow early-career researchers; my first time giving a conference paper. Time management turns out to be somewhat trickier than I predicted! LHPC 2022 was blessed with a great atmosphere thanks to our wonderful attendees, many of whom braved travel difficulties to be there. The quality of questions posed was exceptionally high, and the audiences were very patient with the (mercifully few) technical hitches accompanying running a hybrid conference format.
Interdisciplinary approaches were a strong theme in this year’s event. I particularly enjoyed the Faculty Panel discussion, which touched upon the difficulties and opportunities present in bridging History, Archaeology and Linguistics. The responses to questions about how to undertake academic writing were also reassuringly down-to-earth, practical, and valuable. It made for a lovely conclusion to the conference.
It was a pleasure working with my colleagues on the Organising Committee and the many kind members of the Lancaster History PG community who volunteered on the day. Unlike me, none of them had to have a stress recovery prawn sandwich mid-conference! There is a surprising amount and variety of preparatory work that is required to run LHPC, and so I am delighted that the event is passing into capable hands for next year. I look forward to attending!
The Organising Committee are incredibly grateful for all the feedback we have received. As volunteers, it has been a great relief to know how much everyone enjoyed themselves throughout the conference. The 27th annual LHPC will be hosted in June/July 2023 at Lancaster University.
More information on the LHPC, including details from this year, can be found on our website, www.lhpconference.com. Many of our announcements are posted on our Twitter @Lancs_HistFest, so give us a follow for updates on LHPC 2023!