History Workshop 14, Language and History, was held in Brighton between 14 and 16 November 1980. This was the second time the Workshop had been held away from Ruskin College, and marked the beginning of the phase of itinerant Workshops. This itinerant phase lasted until History Workshops ceased to be held in the mid-1990s.
Due to its altered circumstances, Workshop 14 used a different method of organisation to that used in previous years. As with previous Workshops, the event was organised by a collective. However, the now-itinerant nature of the Workshops meant that from Workshop 15 onwards, at the end of the Workshop, the organisation of the next year’s event was handed on to a collective in a different location. This meant that the Workshop no longer relied on a small core of people at Ruskin. This led to the growing involvement of local history groups in subsequent Workshops and a perceived decline in attendances and papers from working class groups.
The Workshop schedule included three plenary sessions, all featuring professional academics. Discussion was then carried on in five parallel ‘sub-plenary’ sessions, which lasted throughout the conference, and covered ‘Learning and Language’, ‘Language of Socialism, Class, and Ideology’, ‘Languages, Power, Resistance’, ‘Language and Historical Change’, and ‘Experience and the Language of History’. Papers included Peter Pan as Written for the Child, Banners and their Images, Unwritten History, and Women at Work Brighton Project.
Following the tensions at Workshop 13 resulting partly from the perceived over-academic mode of communication in some sessions, there were efforts for Workshop 14 to ensure that a range of constituencies were catered for. As was usual with Workshops, the organisers tried to reach students and teachers at schools, adult education colleges, universities, and polytechnics, as well as local history groups and political campaigns.