Future History Online Workshop: Imagining our Places in 2050

Date / time: 18 November, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Future History Online Workshop: Imagining our Places in 2050


Image Caption: A futuristic view of the Victoria County History

Register to attend this event: https://www.history.ac.uk/events/future-history-workshop

What do we want our towns, cities and villages to be in the future? What will your place be like in 2050? In this workshop, with writer, artist and maker Elizabeth Dearnley and Director of the Victoria County History of England, Catherine Clarke, we’ll be experimenting with creativity and writing #FutureHistory: writing back from the future about our places as we imagine they could be in 2050.

No creative writing experience or expertise needed! The first 50 people to register (based in the UK) will receive a pack of materials to help and inspire you. With the renewal of places across the UK firmly on the agenda, through government policies such as the Towns Fund and Levelling Up, come and join our conversation about how research and creativity can help us imagine the places we hope to see.

Recommended for ages 14+.

What to expect

This interactive workshop will begin with a very short talk from Professor Catherine Clarke, introducing some of the research contexts for the activity. Catherine is Director of the Victoria County History of England: an ongoing project, founded in 1899, to write the history of every county in England from the earliest times to the present day. It brings together local communities, volunteers and specialist academics. Understanding the past of our places helps us imagine their possible futures. This workshop also draws on the work of the current research scoping project Towns and the Cultural Economies of Recovery, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which explores the role of culture, arts and heritage in the regeneration and development of our towns, especially in the context of policies like the Towns Fund and Levelling Up.

After a short introduction to these contexts, Catherine and Elizabeth will introduce you to the concept of ‘future history’, drawing on examples from novels, film and art, as well as the different forms of history writing you may choose to adopt – from Victoria County History conventions to heritage interpretation boards, to reconstruction drawings. You’ll be writing as if from the distant future about 2050 as a moment in the past! You can see some previous (mini) examples of future history by searching for the hashtag #VCHFutureHistory on Twitter. The workshop will include time for you to work on your own #FutureHistory, as well as opportunities for sharing and feedback (if you choose).

Your future histories will help us explore how imagination and creativity can help us think about the possible futures of our places. We will invite participants to share their #FutureHistory with us on social media or by email. Look out for tweets from @CHPPC_IHR with the #FutureMap / #FutureHistory hashtag in the run-up to the workshop – we’ll be sharing teasers, inspiration and ideas.

What you’ll need

The first 50 people to register for the workshop (based in the UK) will receive a pack of materials to inspire you. These will include papers to write on and materials to illustrate your #FutureHistory. Please register early to avoid disappointment.

Everyone at the workshop will need to have their own:
Paper and pen / pencils or an electronic device to write on

If you don’t receive the materials pack, you may want to collect some other materials to inspire you and (if you’re so inclined) decorate your writing. These could include:

  • Coloured paper
  • Photos of your chosen place now and in any imagined future versions (look for local government planning documents, ways your place has been imagined by writers or artists, visualisations of the impact of climate change etc)
  • Stickers, washi tape, pieces of maps – anything you may want to use to illustrate or decorate your writing

This event is part of the Being Human festival, the UK’s only national festival of the humanities, taking place 11-20 November 2021. Led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. For further information please see beinghumanfestival.org