image of the cover of the booklet sent to attendees of history workshop 23
Cover of booklet sent to attendees at History Workshop 23
© History Workshop Archive, Bishopsgate Institute

History Workshop 23, Class, Community and Conflict, was held at Salford University between 3 and 5 November 1989. This focus on the intersections of class and community identities – and their association with conflict – was possibly a return to more traditional ground for the Workshop following a succession of Workshops which focused on popular perceptions about the use of history. However, in practice, these trends were still heavily evident in the papers given. The conference opened with a showing of the film version of Walter Greenwood’s Love on the Dole – a novel set in Depression-era Salford. This reflected History Workshop’s enduring interest in how cultural forms related to people’s experience of their own history.

Unlike some of the previous Workshops, this Workshop did include a plenary session in the schedule as an attempt to draw together the disparate discussions of the thematic workshop sessions. Themes covered included ‘Health/Science/Technology’, ‘Working Class Leisure’, ‘Trade Unions: 100 Years’, ‘Women’s History’, ‘Radical Black Britain’, ‘Anarchism’, ‘Working Class Education’, ‘Irish in Britain and Ireland’, ‘Culture and Self-Determination’, ‘Developing Countries’, ‘Communist Party History’, ‘Working Class Youth’, ‘Museums and Labour History’, ‘Classroom History’, ‘The Middle Ages’, ‘Oral/Community History’, and ‘Peterloo and Radicalism’. Papers given included Medical History from the Bottom Up: Scatological Gleanings from Victorian Manchester – Anus Mirabilis Victorious, British Male Comedy in the Interwar Period, Women in Working Class Fiction, and The Horse and Peterloo.

This Workshop saw a broadening of the movement’s emphasis in some areas. In particular, the inclusion of medieval history in its own strand was a new development for the Workshop. A strand devoted to the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 gave Workshop 23 a strong local connection. This was only the second time that the Workshop had been held at a university rather than an adult education college or a polytechnic. The Workshop had historically had closer links to adult education and polytechnics because staff at such institutions were often more in sympathy with the movement’s oppositional nature.

image of publicity for history workshop 23
Publicity for History Workshop 23
© History Workshop Archive, Bishopsgate Institute

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