History for geeks, and geeking for historians.

The study of the past is, of course, a very important subject that is taken seriously. But it is also possible to have a lot of fun as a historian, and there’s lots of potential for geeky and fannish behaviour. This track will introduce history to geeks, and emphasise the geeky aspects. At the same time, historians will be given a chance to explore their own geekiness. Come and learn about how to handle sources, and see historians enthuse about their subject.


Weird Pasts: the weird and wonderful things to dig up (with History) - 11.45am - 1.00pm
Continuing our archaeology double bill by considering the past. The archaeologists of speculative fiction are endlessly uncovering ancient, unspeakable evil, translating alien dialects and killing mummies...again. This is all true, of course. This panel features archaeologists talking about their research on the weird, wild, and wonderful in the past and near future. Topics include Victorian Sci-Fi and how it changed how we understand human origins; Dr. Cornelius' illegal excavations on the East Coast of the United States and his heretical interpretation which claimed to show evidence for advanced human society predating that of apes; video games and the past, and treasure. Lots and lots of treasure.
Speakers tbc.

Evidence Handling: primary source work for historians and writers - 1.30pm - 2.45pm, County B

What is a primary source, and how do historians use them? Three professional historians lead a workshop on how to work with various kinds of evidence, both written and physical. Examples of sources will be provided for participants to explore and analyse.
Workshop, with Tony Keen, Kari Sperring, and Simon Trafford

‘Runar munt þu finna': why sing pop in dead languages? - 3.15pm - 4.30pm, County C&D

Since the early 1970s, a small but significant assortment of rock and pop groups have opted to perform not in their own tongues, but in various dead languages of medieval Europe. This talk explores the reasons behind what may look like an act of commercial suicide, and shows how performers and audiences have sought to align themselves with a romantic past that may seem an attractive alternative to the unsympathetic, industrialised capitalism of the present day. That said, different bands have had very different expectations of their desired past, for where some want to be troubadours, others want to be Vikings!
Talk by Simon Trafford

Historical Heroines: the women from history that we admire - 6.45pm - 8.00pm, Connaught A (with Geek Feminism)

History is often seen as being about Great Men, but there were plenty of Great Women, from Katherine the Great to Florence Nightingale. This panel celebrates the women who have, against the odds, made their mark on history: a group of historians and writers will pick their favourites.
Panel with Debbie Challis, Laurie Penny, Kari Sperring, Simon Trafford


The Origins of London: a city's birth in legend and in reality - 9.00am - 9.45am, County B

London is one of the greatest and most important cities in the world. But how did it come to be? This talk covers the legends of London's foundation by Brutus and Lud, the archaeological evidence for its Roman origins, and its development up until the reign of Alfred the Great.
Talk by Tony Keen

Historical Headcanons: "I'm sure it's true, but I can't prove it" - 11.45am - 1.00pm, County B

Did the emperor Claudius mastermind the assassination of his predecessor? What was the nature of the relationship between Sir William Hamilton, his wife Emma, and Lord Nelson? There are plenty of points in history where the evidence isn't good enough to give us definite answers. But that doesn't mean that historians don't have opinions. Here, some will speak about what they believe or wish to be true, but can't prove.
Panel: Juliette Harrisson, John J. Johnston, Tony Keen, Simon Trafford

Favourite Historical Movies: what we like and why - 3.15pm - 4.30pm, County B

Historians are often thought of as people who sit and watch historical movies, looking for the errors. But there are some movies set in the past that we like. Here, a group of historians will talk about their favourites, and why they are particularly loved.
Panel with Juliette Harrisson, John J. Johnston, Tony Keen, Kari Sperring


"They used what?"- historical research for fanfiction - 10.00am - 11.15am, Room 12 (with Fanfic)

Writing fanfiction set in a historical period can involve a great deal of research. (Possibly more than has been done by canon creators, in some cases!) And writing historical AUs can be a great way of unpacking the unspoken prejudices of a modern-day canon. Research can be immensely diverting, it can spark a renewed interest in history, and it can affect the course and content of your story. This panel will discuss how historical AUs open up some canons, and share some of the more interesting facets of their own research into various historical periods.
Panel with Tanya Brown, AL Johnson, Tony Keen, Kari Sperring, Melissa Taylor

Is History a Science? - the view from Doctor Who - 11.45am - 1.00pm, County C&D (with Doctor Who)

Is history a science? In their book, The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who, authors Simon Guerrier and Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, address this question, looking at how history functions in the world of Doctor Who. In conversation with Tony Keen, they will explore these issues further.
Panel with Simon Guerrier, Tony Keen, Marek Kukula

By The Sword: writing historical swordplay techniques - 1.30pm - 2.45pm, County B

Why are we so fascinated with historical swordplay, how have our perceptions of it changed and developed, and how historical are recreations and re-imaginings in print and on screen? Would Jaime Lannister or Brienne of Tarth have a chance of kicking ass in actual medieval battles? What codes, structures, taboos and tragedies really lie behind our favourite historical figures, and characters of historical fiction, picking up that blade? Can we ever really approximate to what they felt or experienced? Includes demonstrations of some historical swordplay techniques as part of the talk, a slide presentation, and extracts from historical manuals.
Talk by David and Lesley McIntee

History Is A Lie: what does history mean to us today? - 3.15pm - 4.30pm, County B

Undeniably, history is back in fashion. Which historical periods obsess us at present? Are they reflections of ourselves and our age, or simply escapism? How far have we gone to make them palatable or accessible, to both ourselves and the networks? What can Leo in Da Vinci's Demons, Milady in the BBC Musketeers, or Athelstan from Vikings, tell us about ourselves in 2015? Are we defined culturally, politically and socially as much by the history we ignore or (covertly or overtly) censor, as much as the history we eagerly consume? And, where should we look next to feed our appetite for the past?
Talk by David and Lesley McIntee