School of History, Classics & Archaeology

History Research Seminars

A brand new subject area-wide history seminar series for 2022.

Seminar description

Open to all!

Seminars will take place 4.10-6.00pm on the last Monday of each month in the the Sydney Smith Lecture Theatre, Doorway 1, Old Medical School, Teviot Place, unless otherwise stated below.

Event schedule

Semester 2 2023/23

Date Speaker Topic
Mon 30 Jan

Dr Timo Schaefer (University of Edinburgh)

'From custom to capitalism: Private property and the attack on legal rule in post-colonial Latin America'

Mon 13 Mar


Professor Jill Burke (Edinburgh College of Art)

'What Renaissance women knew: Cosmetics, domestic experimentation and historical reconstruction'

Taking a 1562 recipe for anti-wrinkle cream as a case study, this talk will investigate how historical reconstruction can provide an insight into women’s hands-on knowledge of the natural world. To date most academic reconstruction projects have focused on artisanal recipes that took place in the workshop or studio. The Renaissance Goo project (University of Edinburgh) brings together a historian with a soft matter scientist to understand the processes and tacit knowledge inherent in cosmetic recipes, largely associated with female practitioners in a domestic setting.  

There are many thousands of extant early modern printed and manuscript medicinal and cosmetic recipes intended for home use.  The importance of domestic experimentation - and in particular the role of eye-witnessing and experience - has led to the re-evaluation of the role of women's roles in the scientific culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Some historians have argued that cosmetic and skincare formulation allowed women to investigate the ‘secrets’ of nature in this period. The frequent addition ‘it’s proven’ at the end of recipes, plus handwritten annotations to texts that dispute or confirm efficacy, speaks to a culture of trial and error, appropriation and adaptation.

Mon 3 Apr Dr James Bradley, University of Melbourne

The Life and Death of the ‘Piratical Bushrangers’: Colonial Anxieties and the Naturalisation of Crime in Early Victoria 

During September of 1853, convicts Henry Bradley and Patrick O’Connor embarked upon a crime spree remarkable for its ferocity and geographical reach. Robbery and murder in northern Van Diemen’s Land was followed by the piracy of a vessel which they hoped would convey them to freedom. But their escape ended in a gun fight and capture some 50 miles north of Melbourne. By the end of October, they had been tried and executed. 

This paper will explore the way the ‘Piratical Bushrangers’ crystallised anxieties about crime and its causes. Furthermore, it will explore the part the episode played in the implementation of the Convicts Prevention Acts—the response of ‘respectable’ Melburnians to the perceived threat of the convict masses across the Bass Strait, who, it was believed, could infect the new colony with violence, crime and worse. Finally, it will question previous historiographical interpretations of the legislation, suggesting that the colonial anxiety catalysed by the ‘piratical bushrangers’ is best understood within the framework of the history of emotions rather than as a case study in moral panic. 

Bio: James Bradley is senior lecturer in the History and Philosophy of Science, University of Melbourne. Initially a historian of sport, following his PhD at Edinburgh he worked at the Wellcome Unit (Glasgow), before moving to Australia. While predominantly working in the history of medicine he has also published on colonial Australian history co-editing, with Ian Duffield, Representing Convicts, as well as several articles/chapters on convicts and tattooing. 


Semester 1 2023/23

Date Speakers Topic Venue Notes

Mon 26 Sep

Emily Ward (University of Edinburgh)

Book launch: 'Royal childhood and child kingship: Boy kings in England, Scotland, France and Germany, c. 1050–1262'

Sydney Smith Lecture Theatre, Doorway 1, Old Medical School

Followed by a welcome-back reception in the Macmillan Room. Please register for this in advance using this form.

Mon 31 Oct

Dr Dániel Margócsy (University of Cambridge)

'Finding God in Kerala: Natural history and the production of the "Hortus Malabricus"'

Sydney Smith Lecture Theatre, Doorway 1, Old Medical School

Co-hosted with the History of Science, Medicine and Technology Group seminars

Mon 28 Nov

Julian Goodare (University of Edinburgh)

'Reality checking for Historians' 

Lecture Theatre 2, Appleton Tower

To be followed by a reception.  Please register via Eventbrite  

Further information

If you have any questions please contact the seminar organiser, details below.

Professor Paul Nugent

Professor of Comparative African History

  • Centre of African Studies, Chrystal Macmillan Building, 15A George Square

Contact details

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The School of History, Classics and Archaeology offers an exciting programme of seminars across many subjects areas. Visit the research seminars website to find out what else is happening.