Reminder - Historical Fictions Research Conference, Manchester, 13th & 14th February 2025

deadline for submissions: 
June 28, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Historical Fictions Research Network

Call for Papers

Historical Fictions Research Conference, Manchester, 13th & 14th February 2025

Deadline for proposals: 28th June 2024


The Historical Fictions Research Network ( aims to create a place for the discussion of all aspects of the construction of the historical narrative. The focus of the conference is the way we construct history, the narratives and fictions people assemble and how. We welcome both academic and practitioner presentations. The Network addresses a wide variety of disciplines, including Archaeology, Architecture, Art History, Cartography, Cultural Studies, Film Studies, Gaming, Gender, Geography, History, Larping, Linguistics, Literature, Media Studies, Memory Studies, Museum Studies, Musicology, Politics, Queer Studies, Race, Reception Studies, Re-enactment, Transformative Works.

For the 2025 conference, the HFRN seeks to engage in scholarly discussions on the topic of place in historical fictions.

As the geographer David Harvey points out, the construction of identities together with notions of belonging, power and freedom rest upon understandings of place. Perceived differences and affinities across and between populations, as well as over time, are often spatially determined, and because dreams of the future and imaginaries of the past are inevitably linked to space and territory, the historical imagination cannot be separated from the geographical. A sense of place underpins cultural memory and the imagined community of the nation through time. Conversely, as Paul Gilroy has shown, place is also crucial to the diasporic imagination, and it is moreover through re-visiting the relationship between place and time that alternative pasts can be imagined. Place is central to discourses around nostalgia, notions of golden ages, and the politics of home and belonging. 

Place is integral to historical fictions as they attempt to reconstruct and re-present the ways and worlds of the past, helping to locate stories and characters in time and often conferring a sense of authenticity. Narratives of both progress and decline are usually anchored by location, and processes of change are often codified through the relationship between people and space. Place can be a device for exploring the otherness, the ‘horrors’ of the past. Alternatively, it can instil a sense of continuity and commonality between ages.  Landscapes, including urban spaces are ‘storied’ and are, in the words of Paul Readman “‘sites of memory’ – focal points for mobilising a collective consciousness of the past”. As Readman goes on to point out, the association between place and human pasts transforms the former into heritage which in turn is bound up with constructions of collective identities. As Raymond Williams notes, different rural and urban environments, including that of the house, express social and moral values. 

Places are thus political. They are often associated with conservative histories: with instincts of preservation, of stasis, and with property rights, inheritance, and the upholding of unequal social orders – ideas which, for instance, often under-pin the country-house narrative. At the same time, place can be used to posit new ways of looking at the past, to assert alternative geographical identities to that of the national and to awaken suppressed histories. As is shown by right-wing reactions to the British National Trust’s policy of revealing its properties’ economic roots, such perspectives offer radical possibilities, helping to re-centre the stories of marginalised communities and destabilise accepted norms and beliefs.

Papers are invited on topics related but not limited to:

  • The meaning of landscapes and/or urban settings in historical fictions
  • The use of mise-en-scène in historical film, TV or games
  • Country-house historical fictions
  • Nostalgia in historical fictions
  • Diasporic historical fictions
  • The use of settings in historical fictions
  • The portrayal of travel in historical fictions
  • The construction (or deconstruction) of place-based identities in historical fictions
  • The reparative potential of place in historical fictions
  • Post-national or transnational historical fictions
  • Maps or other spatial paratexts in historical fictions

Keynote Speakers:

Dr Dorothea Flothow, Associate Professor, Department of English and American Studies, University of Salzburg

Professor Ian McGuire, American Literature and Creative Writing, University of Manchester and prize-winning author of the historical novels, The North Water (2016) and The Abstainer (2020)

Beth Underdown, author of the historical novels, The Witchfinder’s Sister (2017) and The Key in the Lock (2022)

Further Details

HFRC 2025 will be an in-person event taking place at Manchester Central Library, The Friends’ Meeting House, Manchester and The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester. All these venues are situated in the city centre. Piccadilly and Victoria Railway Stations are in the vicinity, and Manchester Airport is approximately 20 minutes away by train.

The organisers are Professor Jerome de Groot, University of Manchester, Dr Dorothea Flothow, University of Salzburg (Conference Manager), Dr Christine Lehnen, University of Exeter, Dr Siobhan O’Connor and Dr Paul Wake, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Proposals for 20-minute papers are due 28th June 2024. They should consist of a title and an abstract of no more than 250 words. Panel proposals are also welcome. If you are proposing a panel, please provide a 700-word (maximum) description of the topic of the panel and the titles of individual papers; and for each participant the name, email address and brief statement (no more than 100 words) about the person’s work including relevant publications, presentations, or projects-in-progress. Panel proposals should be submitted by the organizer. Papers must be presented in English. Decisions on acceptance will be communicated by 31st July 2024. Please use this form ( to register your proposal.

Please note that a membership levy will be introduced alongside the conference fee this year. Further details about HFRN membership and its benefits will be shared at the conference.


Gilroy, Paul, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (London: Verso, 1993)

Harvey, David, Cosmopolitanism and The Geographies of Freedom (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009)

Readman, Paul, Storied Ground: Landscape and the Shaping of English National Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018)

Williams, Raymond, The Country and The City (London: The Hogarth Press, 1993)


Visit our website ( for more details and regular updates. You can also write to HFRN conference manager, Dorothea Flothow at historicalfictionsresearch [at]