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THREE-DAY CONFERENCE Waterloo: Representation and Memory, 1815-2015

Friday 26 June 2015, 12.30PM to 28 June



In June 2015 the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo will be marked by a series of major commemorative events in Belgium and across Europe. At the end of this eventful month the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies at the University of York in co-operation with the National Army Museum will host a major international and interdisciplinary conference Waterloo: Representation and Memory, 1815-2015. The conference will focus not only on what historians have written about the battle but will also engage with its broader impact on popular culture, literature, and art.

Waterloo is salient in European collective memory because it signifies the culmination of a twenty-three-year conflict that some consider the ‘first total war’ (David A. Bell) and set the stage for various other novel phenomena that included, but were not limited to, the rise of modern nationalism, imperialism, and mass tourism during the nineteenth century. In examining cultures of commemoration, the conference seeks to explore a theme that has come to define Waterloo like no other battle: the problem of representation. From the start opinions diverged as to who ultimately defeated Napoleon, yet the multinational team effort behind the allied victory created mnemonic convergences that would likewise shape European identities into the First World War. Drawing together academics, broadcasters and museum curators, the conference organisers invite the submission of paper proposals that shed light on the ways in which entrepreneurs of memory made sense of Waterloo through different cultural media in the past and show how the relics of Europe’s warlike traditions inform heritage preservation/public history in the present.

Confirmed keynote speakers

Prof Alan Forrest (University of York): ‘Contrasting Memories: Remembering Waterloo in France and Britain’

Prof Phil Shaw (University of Leicester): ‘Missed Encounters: W.G. Sebald and the Literature of Waterloo’

Prof Jacques-Olivier Boudon (UniversiteĢ de Paris-Sorbonne) ‘Reflections from St Helena: Waterloo through Napoleon’s Eyes’



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Delegates can register for the three days, or for individual days.There will be a later start on Day One, Friday 26th June at 12.30pm, and an earlier finish time on Day Three, Sunday 28th June, at 3.15pm, hence the difference in prices.

University of York: there are a number of free tickets available for members of the University of York. these do not include lunch.

Delegate requirements: Please email if you have any dietary or access requirements.

Student delegates are offered a reduced registration fee.  Please use your university email address to register.



Revised programme now includes:

  • registration times
  • earlier start time of 9.45am on Saturday
  • visit to York Army Museum on Sunday for a guided tour of the Waterloo Exhibition. 

Friday 26 June 2015

Registration for all delegates from 12.30 in the Common Room, K130

13:30-15:00 Panel 1 Rendering Waterloo Palpable: Museums and Models (K/133)

  • Sophie Stathi (National Army Museum), ‘The Past and Future of Siborne’s Waterloo Model’
  • Richard Gaunt (University of Nottingham), 'Nottingham and the Great Peace: Waterloo Remembered 1815-2015'
  • Charles Esdaile (Liverpool University), ‘Wargaming Waterloo’

15:00-15:30 Coffee Break (K/130)

15:30-17:00 Panel 2 Imagining Waterloo (K/133)

  • Simon Bainbridge (University of Lancaster), ‘Wordsworth, War and Waterloo’
  • Emma Butcher (University of Hull), ‘The Brontës and War: Representing Conflict in the Post-Waterloo Childhood Imagination’

17:00-17:30 Coffee Break K130

17:30-18:45 Plenary Lecture 1 (Philip Shaw), ‘Missed Encounters: W.G. Sebald and the Literature of Waterloo’ (K/133)

19:00-20:00 Drinks Reception (K/123)


Saturday 27 June 2015

Registration for new delegates from 9.15 in K/123

9.45-11:15 Panel 3 Literary Representations of Waterloo (K/122)

  • Neil Ramsey (University of New South Wales), ‘Remembering Waterloo: War, History and Epic Poetry’
  • Francis O'Gorman (University of Leeds), 'Inventing Loneliness: Between the Battlefield of Waterloo and the American Civil War'
  • Helen Small (University of Oxford), 'Blasphemy: Thackeray and Waterloo'

11:15-11:45 Coffee Break (K/123)

11:45-13:00 Plenary Lecture 2 (Alan Forrest), ‘Contrasting Memories: Remembering Waterloo in France and Britain’  (K/122)

13:00-13:45 Lunch

13:45-15:15 Panel 4 Fighting the Good Fight: (Would-Be) Heroes of Waterloo   (K/122)

  • David Snowdon (University of Sunderland), 'Waterloo’s Prizefight Factor: Pierce Egan Celebrates the Boxiana Touch as Napoleon is Floored'
  • David Huf (University of Tasmania), ‘“That Great and Crowning Victory, in Which We Had no Share“: Waterloo, Success Narratives and the British Military Memoir’

15:15-15:30 Coffee Break (K/123)

15:30-17:00 Panel 5 Waterloo: A Contested Symbol of British Nationhood  (K/122)

  • Oskar Cox Jensen (King's College London), ‘Who Won Waterloo? A Battle of Songs’
  • Brecht de Groote (University of Leuven), ‘“It Wanted Only a Story”: David Wilkie, Thomas De Quincey, and the Paradoxes of the Waterloo Myth’
  • Dorothy Nott (University of York), ‘The Artistic Legacy of Waterloo’

17:00-17:30 Coffee Break (K/123)

17:30-18:45 Plenary Lecture 3 (Jacques-Olivier Boudon), ‘Reflections from St Helena: Waterloo through Napoleon’s Eyes’ (K/122)

20:00-22.00 Conference Dinner (King's Manor Refectory)

Sunday 28 June 2015

Registration for new delegates from 9.20-9.40 (K/123)

10:00-11:30 Guided Tour of the Waterloo Exhibition at the York Army Museum

11.30-12.45 Plenary Lecture 4 (Philip Dwyer), ‘Waterloo: Violence in Words and in Images’  (K/122)

12:45-13:30 Lunch (K/123)

13.30-15.30 Panel 6 Waterloo in Western European and Global Memory (K/122)

  • Lotte Jensen (Radboud University), ‘Waterloo and the Shaping of a Dutch Identity’
  • Ultan Gillen (Teeside University), ‘Remembering and Forgetting the Battle of Waterloo in Ireland’
  • Joe Hardwick (University of Northumbria), ‘Waterloo Day in the Australian Colonies and the British Empire’  
  • Ben Schoenmaker (Netherlands Institute of Military History), ‘A Matter of National Urgency: The Dutch Fight Against Siborne’




Location: The King's Manor

Information for delegates  - accommodation, how to find us, places of interest,  Visit York  

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