The British Society for the History of Science postgraduate conference
The British Society for the History of Science postgraduate conference at Warwick this year was
blessed with both a convivial atmosphere and rich variety of papers. Dr Claudia Stein, the Director of
the Centre for the History of Medicine at Warwick, welcomed delegates with some of her memories of
conferences past, and reminded us that conferences are above all an excellent place to make friends.
Lots of animated chatter during the coffee and lunch breaks indicated that people were making the
most of the chance to get to know others and discuss their work. Potential research was also
discussed with the Masters students in attendance, who often remarked that the conference had
provided them inspiration to carry on their studies.
The wonderful thing about the BSHS postgraduate conference is the chance to hear about research
on such diverse subjects, and this year was no exception. Attendee’s horizons were broadened by
papers on topics ranging from bicycles to baby-eating, ventilators to donkey skulls, ancient Canaan
gods to BT and fibre-optic cables, and many other fascinating topics. There was a mixture of papers:
some presented specific case-studies, while others gave broad overviews of potential research areas.
Historiography was discussed in questions as well as discussions outside of the panels. Issues that I
was aware of being widely or repeatedly debated included how to or whether to attempt to ascertain
the moral intentions of actors, whether or not Britain has been in decline during the twentieth century,
and whether psychology counts as a science and can be studied in the same way.
And finally, I cannot conclude without mentioning the impressive (and delicious) BSHS cake, which
was a talking point throughout!
David Beck, University of Warwick
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The British Society for the History of Science postgraduate conference