Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Historical Materialism Conference

I suppose I should mention that I’ll be presenting to the Historical Materialism Conference at SOAS in London, 7-9 November. I’ll post more details on the paper closer to the event – suffice to say that the paper I proposed way back when is… somewhat more esoteric than what I would propose to present now… Still, looking forward to the event – interesting time to be attending this conference. Perhaps I’ll see some of you there…

14 responses to “Historical Materialism Conference

  1. Lynda October 16, 2008 at 5:54 am

    Wow NP – just had a look at the conference homepage. You will be in very fine company indeed. Lucky thing… I’m soooo jealous. See if you can convince them to hold their next conf in, hmmm, mid-September next year 😉

  2. N Pepperell October 17, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Hey Lynda – If you’re still around in November next year, I think it tends to happen round about then every year 🙂

  3. Nate October 21, 2008 at 8:47 am

    I wish I could go, be fun to meet. Mike Beggs’ll be there too. And lots of cool stuff on the program.
    Any chance of a conference report afterward?
    take care,

  4. N Pepperell October 22, 2008 at 3:17 am

    Hey Nate – Yes – I had seen Mike’s name in the conference list (my name isn’t there! I am apparently still presenting though… I think… we’ll see…).

    I’d like to be able to blog at least some of the conference – not sure whether jet lag and general end-of-term fogginess will complicate this intention 🙂

    Take care…

  5. Tom Bunyard October 26, 2008 at 6:58 am

    Hi Nicole,

    You’re back in England in November? I look forward to seeing you at the conference. I’m presenting something myself, although to be honest I’m becoming increasingly nervous about my ability to turn it into something that’s actually presentable in the time remaining.
    I hope all is well,


  6. N Pepperell October 26, 2008 at 7:01 am

    Hey Tom – Similar nerves on this end – it’s been an incredibly crowded term, and so the conference piece for me will be fairly rough and ready. Or just… rough 🙂 But I’m looking forward to being back in England, and the other papers look interesting at least 🙂

    By the way, have you settled on formatting standards and such for the papers from June? Or should I just choose a standard for now, and get the text to you?

    Take care…

  7. Tom Bunyard October 26, 2008 at 7:33 am

    ummm – I don’t really know the answer to that. I’ve been so busy this term that I haven’t really been able to give it much thought – and I’m not yet sure how long it’s likely to be before this stuff winds up in print, or in what format. John’s certainly keen to get the papers printed, but I really don’t know how much money is available. I suspect that they may be combined with another project that he’s mentioned, which would perhaps be a shame – but then on the other hand getting the things in print is clearly a better plan that just leaving them on our hard drives (for the gnawing criticism of the viruses? or something like that).

    as regards formatting; I’m really not sure about fonts and spacing, but in terms of references I was thinking that it might be an idea if we tell everyone to follow the guidelines posted on a journal’s website, so as to avoid confusion. The Historical Materialism guidelines are pretty clear, so how about using them? I don’t actually like them much, as I prefer to just put everything in footnotes when I’m writing for myself (lots of ibids and op cits), but it might make life easier.

    What’s the word count on your text?

  8. N Pepperell October 26, 2008 at 7:42 am

    My word count’s around 8000 – I was assuming I’d stick pretty much to the version I actually delivered (which was cleaned up a reasonable amount from the version I passed to you prior to the event, but which is still very situational and designed as a talk, rather than as a journal piece). I’m happy to use the Historical Materialism guidelines – I’ve had to use those recently, so they’re relatively fresh in my mind.

    Do you have a sense what John is thinking in terms of how he might want to publish this?

    (I sympathise more than I can express about being too busy to find space to think about this stuff. But yes: best not to leave the stuff for virtual criticism alone… ;-))

    Take care…

  9. Tom Bunyard October 26, 2008 at 9:16 am

    John;s been running a course on capitalism and cultural studies for a few years now, and one of his essay questions encouraged the students to use aspects of Vol.1 to discuss their own employment circumstances. He’s been talking about getting some of these essays published, and I guess that if the money is tight the June papers might be amalgamated with that. I’m certainly not going to complain if that is the case, not least as it means that there’s a greater chance that our stuff will actually be read – but it would be nice to have them as a separate publication. I really don’t know what’s going to happen, to be honest, but it certainly sounds like the papers will see the light of day at some point.

    …8000 words, however, is way, way too long; I’m forcing everyone else down to 3000 (although I won’t get cross if they go a little over that). Can you cut it to 6000? Ideally, can you cut it down less than that? The shorter the word count the more people I can ask to contribute, and the cheaper the publication costs.

    Yes, I’m stupidly busy. I’m doing a couple of seminars for John, which I’m enjoying enormously, but have also (stupidly) taken on some undergradutae sociology work. I applied for work, they offered me some theory seminars which I really wanted to do, but I had to turn them down because of my office job commitments – and they then wrote back and asked if I could do their reserach methds workshops. I’m now trying desperately (OK, not desperately) to find out about tedious things like sampling frames and statistical analysis faster than then the students themselves. I’;ve had some writing commitments as well this term, and with three days a week in a proper job it hasn;t left any time at all for anything else. Sounds like I’m moaning and I’m really not; I realise how lucky I am to be dojng this stuff. The HM paper, however, is likely to be something of a car crash as I’ve just not had time to work through it properly; it’s been a case of snatching a few hours here and there, and that’s not a recipe for success.

  10. N Pepperell October 26, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Hey Tom – 8000 is the length of the original presentation – I hadn’t realised we were trying to cut beyond that. I had thought the point was to capture what was said at the event. I’ll have a look – but the piece was fairly compressed as it was. Cutting will mean losing content, and breaking with what was said on the day. I’ll have a look and see what I can do.

    But yeah, my HM paper has unfortunately been compressed by a very similar situation – took on responsibility this term for coordinating a couple of methods courses, and this has taken a lot of time. And a lot of my energy has also needed to go to other things. I’ve turned to the HM piece recently, but it won’t be as worked over as I would like… We’ll see how it goes…

  11. Tom Bunyard October 26, 2008 at 7:06 pm


    I thought your piece was more like 6000? I’m sure it wasn’t wasn’t as long as 8000, but I may be wrong.
    Yes, the idea was to gather up the papers presented on the day, but I think I said in an e-mail that we’d need to bring your word count down slightly…? If you object then do say so, and we’ll see what can be done; but if everyone else is writing 3000(+), your own text would be almost three times as long.

    I guess the best thing to do is to take stock at the end of this month, which was the provisional deadline. We can then see just how many essays we have, how manyt more are likely to filter through – and also how much money we have, and therefore how much space we can give the authors. It woudl be great if I could give some of the other writers a little more leg room. So, can we leave it for now that we can review the word counts at the end of the month when we have a better idea of what our options are?

    Ona different note, how’s your work going? Is your Science of Logic group still running?

  12. N Pepperell October 26, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Hey Tom – The word count came just from running a count on the paper I delivered – I haven’t modified the paper since giving it, other than cleaning up citations (which is why I was asking for the style guidelines – to complete this). Unfortunately I never received an email in relation to word count, so I hadn’t been thinking of cutting the paper, and I won’t have time by the end of this month. My understanding from John had been that he wanted to reproduce the papers that were actually delivered. I could perhaps have reworked the paper more seriously with more warning, but my schedule is monstrously busy for the next several months, so at this late stage I can’t do more than very quick, minor changes without having to ask for a very long delay before I can submit for you. Sorry about this: I had a clear schedule earlier, but not now. I can have a quick look, but I can’t make any sort of substantial revision with this short a lead time.

    The work’s going well, but very hectic, as I’m doing the final revision of the thesis. Most of the members of the reading group got co-opted into teaching this term, so we’ve been in hiatus for a while – hopefully we can get things started again next year.

  13. Tom Bunyard October 26, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    OK, sounds like this is due to poor (or rather nonexistent) organisation on my part. I seriously doubt that the end of October deadline will really be taken seriously by anyone, and it will undoubtedlty be pushe dback into November.

    Let’s take stock in a few weeks time, and we can then work out what’s possible/required/desireable. Obviously, if we can use your paper in its existing form that would be best for everyone; I was just a little concerned about money and about giving space to other writers.

    Did you say that you’re teaching reserach methods?

  14. N Pepperell October 26, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    Hey Tom – Thanks for this – juggling tons of things at the moment (as you are too), so revisiting in a bit seems good.

    I’ve been teaching into a postgrad methods course for a while, but the person who normally coordinates the course has been away this term, so I’ve been coordinating. There is also a large undergraduate qualitative methods course that I’m co-coordinating with L Magee – this was a new course for both of us (although we’ve done the sister quantitative methods course, and could draw on the experience from that). Both courses are oriented more as introductions to the logic of research design, if that makes sense: they don’t spend a lot of time on individual methods (in part because the students are given the ability to choose their own projects, and are encouraged to let the research question drive the method – which means the methods can be… diverse…), but they do spend a lot of time on things like developing a well-formed research question, identifying and framing the research in relation to a literature, writing a proposal, and then making your case. The courses are fun – but a bit exhausting the first time through. I’m hoping to be in a position to run them again next year – on a first go, you always find things you’d like to have the chance to tweak next time, and it would be really nice to be able to revisit the same material.

    Although I like the methods teaching, and it’s been nice to have control over course design, the cost has been that I haven’t taught economics this term – and this would have been an interesting term to be teaching economics, I think. 🙂 Ah well… Only so much teaching can be fit into a schedule… 🙂

    How have you approached research methods? Are you revisiting the subject, or is this the first go with this course? What you say about trying to stay ahead of the students reminds me so much of my experience with the quantitative methods course – I hadn’t ever taught the subject before, and I spent an enormous amount of time looking online at other syllabi and lecture notes, seeing what other people covered, and then trying to adapt it to our students… I’d like the chance to do that material again, as well – we did some optional quantitative methods sessions this term for interested students, but since the emphasis of the course was on qualitative, we couldn’t get into much detail…

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