The History of Parliament Trust is delighted to announce that its director, Dr Paul Seaward, is one of the recipients of the four British Academy Wolfson Research Professorships awarded this year, to begin from 1 January 2018. It will last for three years. The project outlined in the original bid was for a thematic history of Parliament, organised around concepts of time, memory, space, cultures and power, and covering roughly 500 years, 1500-2000 (or ‘from Reformation to Referendum’).
The Academy said in their press notice that: ‘The British Academy and the Wolfson Foundation have confirmed the awards of four new BA/Wolfson Research Professorships, to run from the autumn of 2017. The four successful candidates were chosen from a field of 100 applicants, giving a success rate of just 4%. The Academy's Research Awards Committee faced some very difficult decisions in making these awards as the standard of the competition was extremely high. The Academy is proud to be able to offer support through this scheme, in collaboration with the Wolfson Foundation, to the very best scholarship in the humanities and social sciences in the UK. The scheme is intended to help distinguished senior scholars have time away from their teaching and administrative commitments and to enable them to carry out a major programme of research.’
The Chairman of the Trust, Gordon Marsden MP, said that ‘we are enormously pleased that the British Academy has recognised Paul, and the Trust, in this way. The award will enable him to pursue a major and far- reaching research project on various aspects and issues of Parliament throughout its existence. It has the potential to be extremely complementary and beneficial to the work of the Trust, and not least in promoting the scholarship we have taken forward and our educational initiatives to relate that and Parliament's historical significance to a wide range of audiences’.
The Chairman of the Trust’s Editorial Board, Professor John Morrill FBA, said that ‘the Board congratulates Paul on this award. These awards, which only come round every four years, are highly prestigious, and Paul's application was one of four chosen out of a hundred. The project has great capacity to deepen and strengthen the History’s approach to parliamentary history and to provide many more ways of increasing the impact of its work, and its public and parliamentary engagement’.
Paul Seaward said ‘I am surprised and very pleased to have been awarded one of the British Academy Wolfson Research Professorships: in this way the Academy has recognised not just my proposal, but also the importance and potential of the work that has been carried out by the History of Parliament. I’m enormously grateful to the Trustees and Editorial Board for allowing me to take up the award, and look forward to an enormously stimulating period of research and engagement, building on our published research and in collaboration with our remarkable collection of historians.’
The project summary is as follows:
The current crisis of representation and legitimacy in our politics reminds us that the historical basis of our understanding of parliament and its role and operation badly needs updating. This project will look at parliament over 500 years in a radically different way, viewing it as an institution deeply interwoven into British life culture as well as into the British constitution and state. Using the concepts of memory, time, space and culture, it will explore how these make up the institution and how they contribute to its structural strength, or introduce some of its weaknesses. It will encourage us to recognise once again the importance of structure and process, for so long seen as of secondary significance, in political contention, but also to understand more about why these things, through helping to consolidate elites, might help to deligitimise politics.
The Trust and Editorial Board will need to make alternative arrangements for the day-to-day management of the History over the three years covered by the award, and will make a further announcement on this in due course.
A full description of the project is available on request – please contact us or Paul at pseaward[at]histparl.ac.uk.