An interesting conference coming up at the University of Warwick:

Unplanned Wildernesses: Narrating the British Slum 1844 – 1951

Keynote speaker: Professor Seth Koven (Rutgers University)

Roundtable led by: Professor Gareth Stedman Jones (Queen Mary, University of London)

Registration will open soon.

In 1844 Friedrich Engels described the slums of Manchester as ‘unplanned wildernesses’; stating that no ‘human being would willingly inhabit such dens’ (The Condition of the Working Class in England). Engels’ emphasis on the bewildering experience of the slum – the ‘maze of lanes, blind alleys and back passages’ – as well as the slum’s contaminating presence in the Victorian city, is part of a wider dialogue concerning working-class neighbourhoods throughout the nineteenth century that incorporated the writings of such figures as Charles Dickens and the sociologist Charles Booth. These narratives of disgust, attraction and horror maintained a significant effect on the depiction and treatment of the slum well into the twentieth century.

The conference seeks to address the changing narrative of the slum from the period between the German publication of Friedrich Engels’ The Condition of the Working Class in England (1844) and the election of Winston Churchill’s Conservative government in 1951 when thereafter Britain’s remaining slums were cleared for high-rise council flats. Questions to be considered will include:

What do representations of the slum reveal about constructions of class, gender and race?

How did public health policy transform our understanding of this space and the lives of its inhabitants?

How can we document and narrate the slum today?

The conference will open with a plenary from Professor Seth Koven (Rutgers University; author of Slumming: Sexual and Social Politics in Victorian London) and close with a Roundtable discussion led by Professor Gareth Stedman Jones (Queen Mary, University of London; author of Outcast London).

For more information see