Creative Communities first phase completed

The first phase of the Creative Communities research network is now completed. Over an eighteen-month period, we held three very successful two-day workshops (and a research seminar) with an emphasis on interaction and exploration. For the benefit of wider academic and arts communities, podcasts from all three events are now available on the website. This site will remain live and will be updated with news on publications and other projects deriving from the network. Thank you to all the speakers and delegates for your enthusiastic participation.

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Regional and National Networks at Chawton House

The final event of Creative Communities, a workshop on Regional and National Networks, took place at Chawton House, Hampshire, on 24-25 January 2014.  As the gallery below illustrates, this was another lively and productive event.

The programme for the workshop is available here: programme

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Will Bowers, recipient of one of two postgraduate bursaries awarded by the network, reported on the event.  You can read Will’s report here: Regional and National Communities Workshop Report

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Metropolitan Instutitions: workshop report, and some photos

The second workshop of the Creative Communities network, ‘Metropolitan Institutions’, took place at UCL on 20th and 21st September.

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As the photographs here illustrate, the event was lively and productive, drawing academic participants from Universities in the UK and North America, as well as from cultural institutions such as the National Gallery, the Tate and the Royal Asiatic Society.  A report on the day by Matthew Ward (University of St Andrews), recipient of one of two Creative Communities Postgraduate Bursaries, is available below:

Metropolitan Institutions – Matthew Ward’s Report

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Dissenting Academies Online: Virtual Library System

Network members (and non-members!) may be interested in the newly relaunched Virtual Library System of Dissenting Academies Online.

The Virtual Library System is a union catalogue which represents the holdings and loans of selected dissenting academies in England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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Metropolitan Institutions, 20-21 September 2013: Programme

The programme for the second Creative Communities event, Metropolitan Institutions, is now available to download here:

Creative Communities Workshop 2 Final Programme

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Creative Communities: Preview

With the second Creative Communities workshop imminent (Metropolitan Institutions, 20-21 September, UCL), we’re excited to be building on the foundation of the stimulating inaugural event, Dissenters and Evangelicals, held at the University of Leeds and the Leeds Library, 5-6 April 2013.

Professors John Mee and John Whale were on hand at the end of the Dissenters and Evangelicals workshop to consider the outcomes of the event, and the upcoming challenges for the Creative Communities Network.  For a taste of what the event had to offer, click on the link below for a video of this closing discussion:

Creative Communities: Preview

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Thank you to everyone who participated in the workshop/conference on Dissenters and Evangelicals at the University of Leeds and the Leeds Library. It was a simulating and genuinely collaborative event. Details of the programme and readings can be found on the Dissenters and Evangelicals page, along with a report on the proceedings of the Saturday workshop. Podcasts of the workshop will be made available as soon as possible. Our next workshop, on Metropolitan Institutions, will be held at UCL in September.

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Dissenters and Evangelicals at The Leeds Library

Dissenters and Evangelicals Day Conference
The Leeds Library, Saturday 6 April 2013, 10.00-17.00

Registration is now open for the Dissenters and Evangelicals day conference at The Leeds Library on Saturday 6 April.
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, communities of Dissenters and Evangelical Anglicans played a key role in setting the political agenda, transforming literary taste, and founding cultural institutions such as academies and libraries. They included some of the most important intellectuals of the period. This conference will investigate the creative impact of these religious groups. It will take place in the Leeds Library, a proprietary subscription library founded in 1768. During his time as a Dissenting Minister in Leeds, the scientist and theologian Joseph Priestley acted as the Library’s first secretary and second president, and therefore the conference will begin with a panel exploring his significance.
The conference is part of a series of events organised by the AHRC-funded research network, Creative Communities, 1750-1830. The network is based in the School of English at the University of Leeds, in association with the University of Southampton and University College London. The Principal Investigator is Dr David Higgins and the Co-Investigator is Professor John Whale (both University of Leeds).

Confirmed speakers include:
Professor Stephen Bygrave (University of Southampton), ‘“Hallowed by the occasion of the meeting”: Priestley, Barbauld and Community’
Professor Les Woodcock (Priestley Society), ‘Joseph Priestley: Mixing a Religious Faith with Creativity in Science’
Rachel Webster (University of Leeds), ‘In writing to you I feel my heart open’: Hannah More, Spiritual Mentorship and the Abolition of the Slave Trade’
Naomi Billingsley (University of Manchester), ‘Creativity as Community: Images of Christian Activity in Blake’s Biblical Illustrations’
Dr Steven Burley (Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies), ‘Religious Toleration and Religious Tension: New College, Hackney and the Unitarians’
Joanna Wharton (University of York), ‘Inscription and Exchange: Barbauld’s Object Poems’
The event will close with a roundtable discussion featuring responses from Professor Jon Mee (University of Warwick) and Professor John Whale (University of Leeds).

Registration is free, but places are limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
To register, and for any other queries, please contact

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Postgraduate Bursaries Awarded

We are pleased to announce that Will Bowers (UCL) and Matthew Ward (University of St. Andrews) are the recipients of the Creative Communities postgraduate bursaries.  Will and Matthew will each receive £300 pounds to enable them to participate in the network.

In recognition of the high quality of applications, two further bursaries of £100 have been awarded to Laure Philip and Jennifer Wilkes, who are both postgraduate research students at the University of Warwick.

Congratulations to all four applicants.

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Postgraduate Bursaries

Creative Communities, 1750-1830 is an AHRC-funded Research Network based in the School of English at the University of Leeds, in partnership with the University of Southampton and University College London. Dr David Higgins is the Principal Investigator and Professor John Whale is the Co-Investigator. We are pleased to offer two bursaries of £300 to enable postgraduate students to participate in the network. 

Recent scholarly work has begun to question the individualistic approach to cultural production by considering how social structures and relationships have encouraged creativity. Creative Communities seeks to advance our understanding of the relationship between creativity and community by focusing on key historical case studies. It will examine how connections between members of a community, and between different communities, can enhance creativity. At the same time, it will subject those key terms to rigorous historical investigation. The network will bring together established and early career researchers, as well as non-academic stakeholders, from a range of institutions, to debate a number of key questions about the relationship between creativity and community. How can a ‘creative economy’ enhance communal well-being? What is the balance of local and national in a successful creative community? How did communities of the past creatively interact? Above all, what lessons may be learned from understanding these past examples? What kinds of creative generosity can grow from this communal emphasis?

5-6 April 2013: Dissenters and Evangelicals (Leeds)

This workshop, in association with the Priestley Society and the Thoresby Society, will seek to understand the significance of Dissenting communities in fostering creativity, and will also examine the under-explored creativity of other faith communities in the period, such as Anglicans, Catholics, and Jews.

20-21 September 2013: London’s Creative Institutions, 1750-1830 (UCL)

We will investigate the connected communities generated by London’s cultural institutions and ask how did different stakeholders within them interacted in creative ways? To what extent did this lead to the production of a distinctive metropolitan identity? The workshop will also reflect on the continuing influence of these institutions in the twenty-first century city.

24-25 January 2014: Regional Networks of Creativity (Southampton/Chawton)

How did regional networks – comprised of individuals such as publishers and patrons, or institutions such as periodicals and friendship groups – support creative endeavour? How far did the provinces offer a parallel culture or one running counter to the dominance of the metropolis? The workshop will reassess the nature of creativity in a context of contested civic and regional identities in order to learn from the example of late Georgian England.

We envisage that the bursaries will enable postgraduate students to participate in one or more of the workshops. Applicants must be studying for a PhD at a HEI in the United Kingdom. To apply, please send a two-page CV, and a covering email (500 words max) explaining how being part of the network would help your research, to the Network Administrator, Cassie Ulph ( 

For enquiries about the project and/or applying for a bursary, please email David Higgins (

The deadline for applications is 4pm on Monday 26 November 2012.

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