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The University of Southampton

Southampton's role as gateway to empire is conference focus

Published: 26 February 2002

Southampton's role as gateway to the Empire will be the subject of a lively and unusual conference taking place in Southampton next month. The conference will also launch the University's new Centre for the Study of Britain and its Empire.

Speakers at the event on Saturday 23 March include Philip Hoare, author of Spike Island, who will talk about the military hospital at Netley, Ian Beckett, who will consider Southampton's role in military embarkation, and Stephanie Barczewski, who will talk about the Titanic.

Other subjects covered include 'Jews and the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth', 'The Earl of Carnarvon', 'Southampton and David Livingstone', and 'The King Alfred Anniversary of 1901'.

The conference is the inspiration of Professor Miles Taylor, who joined the University of Southampton last year as Professor of Modern British History. Professor Taylor is a nineteenth-century specialist and is particularly interested in how the British Empire influenced and shaped Victorian and Edwardian politics and culture.

Since his arrival the History department has established the Centre for the Study of Britain and its Empire which aims to become a research centre of excellence, organising international conferences, running research projects, and co-ordinating postgraduate teaching programmes.

Southampton, with its rich but neglected imperial heritage is, Professor Taylor believes, a perfect vantage point from which to open up the history of Britain and its empire. "As the principal port of embarkation and arrival for soldiers, emigrants and immigrants, missionaries and explorers, the City was the gateway to the Victorian empire," he says.

The one-day conference will be of interest to anyone interested in Southampton and its heritage. It takes place at New College Campus on Saturday 23 March, from 10.30 am to 5.30 pm. Registration forms are available on the web (, or from 023 8059 2157.

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Notes for editors

The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University, which celebrates its Golden Jubilee in 2002, has 20,000 students and over 4,500 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £215 million.

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