Enfilade

Call for Sessions and Papers: Urban History

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on October 8, 2010

Urban History Group Annual Conference: Leisure, Pleasure, and the Urban Spectacle
Robinson College, University of Cambridge, 31 March — 1 April 2011

Proposals for Sessions and Papers due by 29 October 2010

This conference theme broadly explores the pursuit of pleasure in the context of the history of towns and cities. The conference organisers are interested in investigating the significance of specifically urban forms of pleasure and leisure for understanding the historical dynamics of social, economic and cultural relationships. Towns and cities have historically offered an array of pleasures to cater for ever larger concentrations of people. The types of leisure activities available to urban populations have never remained static; indeed, changing social and economic conditions have transformed popular leisure patterns over time as well as across urban space. The pursuit of pleasure, both licit and illicit, has adapted with the changing relationship between work and leisure. As working hours became increasingly rigid during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, so too did leisure time. The lack of free time was further exacerbated by growing pressures on land use. Thus, the pursuit of pleasure was increasingly set aside for specific buildings (inns, brothels, theatres, music halls and, more recently, fitness centres) or clearly delineated spaces (botanical gardens, public parks, public walks, gated communities and even the internet) where access could, in theory, be carefully managed. Cities, seaside towns and holiday resorts were also developed to specifically cater for a variety of tastes and pleasures. Once it was recognised that there was money to be made out of the pursuit of pleasure, cities became intertwined with the business of leisure and began to market themselves as centres of tourism, heritage and culture. Some issues that the conference seeks to consider include: (more…)