Naval Expertise & the Making of the Modern World

10-11 May 2013
Wolfson College, University of Oxford

This conference examines the generation of expertise in naval contexts and traces how such developments helped shape the modern world. Expertise will be considered not only as knowledge but also as methods and practices central to the evolution of modern nation-states and empires.

In the search for useful knowledge and in answering the demands of global infrastructure, navies have not only pursued military aims, but have also encouraged the formation of other areas of expertise, whether medical, technological, or bureaucratic. Recent research has identified navies as forerunners of modern scientific research, social disciplinary practices, and political economy for instance. This conference will explore such developments comparatively and consider their influence in the early modern and modern periods. By exploring how issues such as social welfare, professionalization and industrialization shaped and were shaped by naval institutions and innovations, this inter-disciplinary conference will link scholarship on naval infrastructure with research on the origins of the modern world.

Speakers and discussants include Dr Eric H. Ash, Dr William J. Ashworth, Dr Maria Fusaro, Prof. Mark Harrison, Prof N. A. M. Rodger.

Registration Details:

Registration for this two-day conference includes: lunch and refreshments on both days, and formal dinner on Friday, May 10. Registration costs £60 (£25 for students).

Travel bursaries for students and early-career researchers are available from the Society for the Social History of Medicine, on a first-come, first-served basis. Please apply directly to the Society for the Social History of Medicine.

Location: Wolfson College is located in north Oxford, on the banks of the River Cherwell, and a few minutes from the centre of town. All conference activities (talks and meals) will be held at Wolfson College. Detailed directions to Wolfson College can be found here. Limited parking is available, and must be reserved in advance through Wolfson’s conference office.

Accommodation: The Best Western Linton Lodge, situated two blocks from Wolfson College, has a special delegate rate of £79.95 (single) and £89.95 (double) (includes breakfast and VAT) available for 9-11 May 2013. This offer ends 11 March 2013 and quantities are limited, so we advise delegates to book accommodation as soon as possible. Delegates are requested to book directly with the Best Western Linton Lodge, using the booking reference HIST100513.
A variety of accommodation is available in Oxford, including two hostels and an affordable range of B&B services through the University’s colleges. More details on Oxford accommodation can also be found through the city’s visitor information site.

Online registration is now open

Please visit:

If you have any questions, please email the conference organisers: [email protected].

Funding for the conference has been generously provided by: The Hudson Trust, University of Oxford; Wolfson College, University of Oxford; The Society for Military History; The Society for the Social History of Medicine; and the Wellcome Trust.