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Monday, 12 September 2011

Women's History Network Conference 2011

This was an excellent conference and all credit to the organisers. Gratifying to report for a conference celebrating 20 years of the WHN annual conference, along with many of the old guard still going strong (indeed if memory serves I was at the 1991 conference in Nottingham) there were large numbers of newer and younger faces, which in view of the suggested decline in women's studies and women's history was an encouraging sign.

One general observation: this year panel presenters seem to have given more attention to the question, 'Is that PowerPoint really necessary?' - while there are many instances in which PowerPoint is indeed a boon (anyone who recollects the hassles involving slides, projectors, overhead transparencies etc realises that it does serve a purpose), last year I felt there was a certain amount of belief that every paper must have its PowerPoint, whether or not there was valuable visual evidence to be conveyed.

All the panels and papers I attended had something of interest about them. The panel I chaired on Sunday worked particularly well - although a couple of the papers were familiar to me from the Berks (Tim Jones on D Sherwin Bailey's theology of marriage and Jacqueline de Vries on Mary Scharlieb and sex education in the early 20th) with Sue Morgan's work on Maude Royden and Sex and Commonsense as well the conjunction went very well indeed and (like other papers I heard) reinforces the importance of taking another look at the role of religion and spirituality in the development of modern sexual discourses in the C19th and C20th.

The ancillary events were also splendid - the conference dinner at Toynbee Hall (and the catering generally), the evening reception for book launches and award presentation in The Women's Library exhibition space.

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