Professor Alannah Tomkins Inaugural Lecture

11 December 2017 6.15pm Westminster Theatre, Chancellor's Building, Keele University
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INAUGURAL LECTURE
PROFESSOR ALANNAH TOMKINS
MONDAY 11 DECEMBER 2017 | 6.15PM
WESTMINSTER THEATRE | CHANCELLOR'S BUILDING


THE WORKHOUSE: A VICTORIAN INSTITUTION THROUGH THE EYES OF WORKING-CLASS WRITERS


The Victorian workhouse casts a long, Dickensian shadow on the history of British welfare, and research which looks at the bare details of admissions and discharges of inmates, or formal rules and committee minutes, can only go so far to amend this impression. Working-class autobiographies give an alternative view of the institution, and while memoirs do not entirely dispel the myth of Oliver Twist, they do provide a much more textured understanding of the daily rhythms and human relationships operating within workhouses. Indeed nineteenth-century life could be so challenging outside the workhouse, that for some people admission was neither a curse nor a death sentence. This lecture identifies a range of responses to workhouses among working-class authors and puts their judgement of life ‘in the house’ into biographical and historical context.
Biography: Alannah obtained a first-class degree in History and English from Keele in 1991, and went on to complete her doctoral thesis at Oxford in under three years. She returned to Keele as a lecturer and assistant editor of the Staffordshire Victoria County History series in 1995, and since then has become an acknowledged authority on welfare, charitable institutions, and medical professionalisation. This lecture goes back to her earliest scholarly interest, residential welfare, and updates it in line with some of her most intriguing research.

FREE

For Further Details Contact

Vanessa Hall: 01782 734015


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