The Janus Dilemma: wathershed moments in history from 1848 to the present
In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of beginnings and transitions. He presided over passages, doors, gates and endings, as well as transitional periods between war and peace. He was usually depicted as having two faces looking in opposite directions, one towards the past and the other towards the future.
Inspired by Janus, we propose to examine watershed moments in history from 1848 to the present. We will explore how economic, social, political and cultural crises sparked changes in the temporality between the past and the future. We will also question whether, as Antonio Gramsci famously put it, moments of crisis and change indicate that “the old is dying and the new cannot be born”. By drawing on a wide variety of contexts, methodologies and regional expertise, we hope to develop new perspectives on how and why watershed moments take place, and how we might analyse them as historians.
This conference is aimed at PhD students and early career-researchers in any area of modern history. Topics for consideration include (but are by no means limited to) the following:
- Revolutions and counterrevolutions
- Times, temporalities and change
- Environmental history
- Constitutional and legal history
- Subcultures, subaltern studies
- Colonialism and decolonisation
- Gender and sexuality
- Race, slavery and Empire
- Intellectual history
- Global, nation and identity