SUBURBS before the railway & the automobile - deadline 15 March 2013

full name / name of organization: 
Kate Scarth, Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick
contact email: 

before the railway & the automobile
A half-day, interdisciplinary workshop
Friday, 3 May, 2013
Institute of Advanced Study, Millburn House, University of Warwick

Keynote Speakers:
Professor Stephen Daniels (Cultural Geography, University of Nottingham)
Dr Elizabeth McKellar (Art History, Open University)

Most scholarship on the suburbs favours suburbs that come after and rely on the railway or automobile. This workshop will assert that not only did residential suburbs exist before the late nineteenth century but they are materially, socially, and culturally diverse and dynamic and are thus a rich area of study. To these ends, the workshop will showcase some recent work that explores pre-railway suburbs, and it will aim to identity the still neglected aspects of these suburbs. We will engage with questions like: How do we (scholars, residents, architects) define pre-railway suburbs? Where are they located? What are their material, social, cultural features? How can attention to pre-railway suburbs inform or even challenge dominant notions of the suburban? Do these suburbs have anything to do with Leave it to Beaver, Coronation Street, Desperate Housewives? How does attention to the pre-railway suburb enrich (sub)urban history? our conceptions of other aspects of the past? Are pre-railway suburbs important?

Proposals are invited for ten-minute papers on any aspect of residential suburbs before the railway and the automobile. SUBURBS before the railway & the automobile will be primarily concerned with the time between London's Great Fire of 1666 (which led to a wave of suburbanization) and the beginnings of railway commuting in the nineteenth century. This will be an inter/multidisciplinary workshop so papers from all disciplines are welcomed.

Topics could include, but are not limited, to:

-defining/theorizing the pre-railway suburb
-metropolitan, provincial, British/non-British, colonial suburbs
-suburbs in port towns, seaside resorts, spa towns, administrative centres, industrial/manufacturing towns
-professions/building the suburbs: landscape/architecture/engineering/urban planning
-suburban spaces/geographies
-nature/the environment
-the literary suburb
-suburban domesticity; private and public spheres
-the everyday suburb
-the comparative suburb; the suburb & the world; the suburb & other times
-DIY; gardening; farming; furnishing; decorating
-health, the body, the history of medicine
-non middle-class suburbs
-non nuclear family suburbs
-men in the suburbs
-the radical/illicit suburb
-suburban country estates
-work & leisure in the suburb

Please submit 350 word abstracts to Kate Scarth ( by 15 March 2013.