Call for papers: The Landscape of Occupations in Pre-Industrial Britain and Continental Europe, c.1400-1750

Two day workshop hosted by the University of Exeter Centre for Medical History, to be held Tuesday 8th and Wednesday 9th April 2014.

Sponsor: The Wellcome Trust.


The workshop designed to bring together papers addressing any of the following four themes:

Individuals, Economic Activity, and Developments in the Early Modern Economy

  • How can demographic data capture the complexity of occupations?
  • Can we see realistic reflection of occupation, or a mark of status or aspiration?
  • Occupational specialisation is often seen as characteristic of the early modern economy, but is this reflected in occupational labels and sources available?
  • Historians also see the early modern economy as characterised the growing scale of businesses and workshops. How can this be reconciled with growing specialisation?


Gender and Occupation

  • How can female economic activity be captured in the pre-modern period?
  • How can historians address the varied and variable economic strategies employed by medieval and early modern households when demographic sources concentrate on male occupations?


Guilds, Colleges and Occupational Identity

  • It is often argued that in the early modern period, traditional guild-based identities became ceased to reflect the actual economic activities of individuals
  • Can membership of guilds and professional bodies, such as the medical colleges, accurately reflect the practice of that individual?


Rural and Urban Economic Lives

  • Economic developments, such as specialisation and professionalization, have traditionally been associated with the early modern period are associated with cities and urban growth, but how did new occupations interact with rural contexts?
  • How did the growth of rural industries, such as the new draperies, affect relationships of wealth and development between towns and the countryside?


The workshop will be held at the University of Exeter, Streatham campus over two days, Tuesday 8th and Wednesday 9th April 2014. Sessions will be structured around pre-circulated papers, and presentations of five minutes, to allow maximum time for discussion.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words are invited to be submitted via email to [email protected] by Monday 2nd December 2013.

Centre for Medical History, University of Exeter

Prof Jonathan Barry Dr Peter Elmer Dr Justin Colson Dr Alun Withey Dr Hannah Murphy