Sophie Vohra

Thesis

Thesis

Railways and Commemoration: Anniversaries, Commemorative Cultures, and the Making of Railway History

Supervisor: Dr Geoffrey Cubitt

Research

Research

My thesis examines the commemoratives cultures of the British Railway industry from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. This project researches the forms of commemoration connected to the industry and how these practices influence popular narratives about its history by examining large-scale public celebrations, the internal commemorative cultures of companies and unions, and the use of commemoration in developing heroic identities of engineers. This project is a collaborative doctoral award funded by the White Rose College of Arts and Humanities, and co-supervised by the University of York and the National Railway Museum.

My wider research interests include: commemoration, railway history, technological history, memory, identity, community identity, the use of the past for advertising, heroes, social history, cultural history, physical historical traces, the built environment, memorials, public history, public engagement with the past, television history, ethics of television history, authenticity and accuracy of public history, museums, exhibition design, archival and museum collections acquisitions/management, digital humanities.

 

Papers and publications

Papers given

  • 12 June 2019: ‘Using the past to shape the future: The movement of objects and narratives in commemorations of British railways’. Presented at the International PhD Conference in History, Lund-York-Bielefeld 2019, Bielefeld University of Bielefeld, Germany.
  • 5 March 2019: ‘Using the past to shape the future: The movement of objects and narratives in commemorations of British railways’. Presented at the IPUP Public Lecture Series – Memory, Place, Museums and Commemoration,University of York, York
  • 20 October 2018: ‘Engineering the exemplary: The development of the heroic identities of George Stephenson and Richard Trevithick’. Presented at the BBC History Magazine Weekend History Fringe, King’s Manor, York
  • 24 August 2018: ‘Commemorating the railway engineer: Developing the heroic identities of George Stephenson and Richard Trevithick’. Presented at the 5th Annual Conference of the International Federation for Public History,São Paulo, Brazil
  • 17 December 2018: ‘Using the past to shape the future: The movement of objects and narratives in commemorations of British railways’. Presented at the Institute of Railway Studies Conference: Mobility of Things, National Railway Museum, York.
  • 20 April 2018: ‘The academic in the museum: The benefits and difficulties of a Collaborative Doctoral Award’. Presented at the Museums in Context and Partnership Conference, National Railway Museum, York.
  • 22 March 2018: ‘Commemorations of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, 1875-1975’. Presented at Curators Talks, Locomotion, National Railway Museum, Shildon.
  • 8 December 2018: ‘Commemorating the past, shaping the future: The anniversary celebrations of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, 1875-1975’. Presented at the Why Public History? Conference, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast.
  • 25 November 2017: ‘The world’s first railway? Commemorations of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, 1875-1975’. Presented at the BBC History Magazine Weekend, Yorkshire Museum, York.
  • 20 July 2017: ‘The uses of the railway history through the celebrations of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, 1875-1975’. Presented at the Institute of Railway Studies Seminar Series, National Railway Museum, York.
  • 7 June 2017: ‘Railways and commemoration: Anniversaries, commemorative cultures and the making of railway history – The narrative of the railways through the celebrations of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, 1875-1975’. Presented at the 2017 PhD Lund-York-Bielefeld Conference, Lund, Sweden.

Upcoming Papers

  • 28-30 August 2019: ‘Celebrating the world’s first passenger railway: The commemorations of the Stockton and Darlington Railway from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century’. To be presented at the BAVS Conference 2019: Victorian Renewals, University of Dundee, Dundee.
  • 5 October 2019: ‘Commemorations of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, 1875-1975’. To be presented at the North Eastern Railway Association Lecture Series, Bar Convent, York.
  • 16-19 October 2019: ‘Embedding research with object collections’. Joint paper to be presented at the 7th Annual Conference, T2M Paris 2019 Conference – Mobilities and Materialities: Building bridge between Past and Future, Pantheon-Sorbonne University, Paris, France.

External activities

External activities

Alongside my research, I co-chair of the IPUP Postgraduate Forum and collaboratively work on events with the archaeology department. I regularly assist with and organise events that the public are invited to engage with, such as talks and workshops through IPUP and the National Railway Museum. I am also working as a researcher for Hidden Histories, which aims to use interesting and engaging digital content to encourage the public to connect with their past as a way of understanding the present and protecting their future.

Contact details

Ms Sophie Vohra
PhD student
Department of History
University of York
Heslington
York
YO10 5DD