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Conference 2015


Textiles and the Origins of Industrial Revolution: Linking Markets and Technique

University of Hertfordshire and Victoria and Albert Museum, 15-16 April 2015 

The late Eric Hobsbawm famously remarked ‘whoever says Industrial Revolution says cotton’. Yet recent refocussing of eighteenth-century history of technology on to the role of enlightenment science and ‘useful knowledge’ has drawn attention away from the mechanization of textiles towards technical innovation in metalwares and ceramics. Nevertheless, innovations in eighteenth-century technologies were intimately bound up with changes in product markets, as were changes in skillsets, the organisation of work and the intensity of labour. New work in textile history has greatly expanded our understanding of the markets for British textiles and the types of textiles consumed, not just cottons, but also silks, linens and woollens.  

The conference emerged from Spinning in the Era of the Spinning Wheel, a research project into the spinning of textile fibres during the centuries before the Industrial Revolution ( Yarn was the focus of eighteenth-century textile mechanisation, but it was also a crucial element in the ways textiles were marketed and their quality judged by consumers. The conference explored the relationship between innovations in textile manufacture and changes in textile consumption during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The focus was principally on Britain and the British Atlantic, but with comparisons elsewhere. By exploring the links between markets and technique across the textile fibres, the conference re-evaluate the origins and significance of the classic eighteenth-century innovations in cotton spinning.

Download the 2015 Pasold Conference Programme

and see below:

DAY ONE: Wednesday April 15th 2015.  


Law Court Building, 

De Havilland Campus,

University of Hertfordshire, 

Hatfield, AL10 9EU.



9.00 am. Conference registration and tea / coffee. 

1. Current Historiography: Textiles in the Industrial Revolution. 

9.30 am – 11.30 am. 

Chair: John Styles, University of Hertfordshire 

Maxine Berg, Warwick University 

Jane Humphries, Oxford University 

Pat Hudson, Cardiff University 

Peter Solar, Vesalius College, Vrije Universiteit Brussel


11.30 am – 12.00 noon. Tea / Coffee


2. Technologies. 

12.00 noon – 1.30 pm 

Chair: Pamela Smith, Columbia University. 

Gillian Cookson, Leeds University 

Karolina Hutkova, Warwick University 

Claudio Zanier, University of Pisa


1.30 pm to 2.30 pm. Buffet Lunch.


3. Divisions of labour, skills and the organisation of work. 

2.30 pm – 4.00 pm 

Chair: Pat Hudson, Cardiff University 

Craig Muldrew, University of Cambridge 

Keith Sugden, University of Cambridge


4.00 pm to 4.30 pm. Tea / Coffee


4. The State and the Market. 

4.30 pm – 6.00 pm 

Chair: Anne Murphy, University of Hertfordshire 

William Ashworth, University of Liverpool 

Philippe Minard, EHESS and Paris VIII


DAY TWO: Thursday April 16th 2015 



V&A Clothworkers Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles, 

Blythe House, 


London W14 0QX.


10.00 am – 10.30 am. Tea / coffee.


5. Markets for textiles. 

10.30 am – 12.00 noon. 

Chair: Lesley Miller, Victoria and Albert Museum 

Robert Du Plessis, Swarthmore College 

Kazuo Kobayashi, London School of Economics 

Peter Maw, University of Leeds


12.00 noon – 1.00 pm. Buffet Lunch


6. Material textiles. 

1.00 pm – 2.30 pm.

Chair: Luca Mola, European University Institute. 

Alice Dolan, University of Hertfordshire 

John Styles, University of Hertfordshire 

Philip Sykas, Manchester Metropolitan University


2.30 pm to 3.00 pm. Tea / Coffee


7. Summing up and discussion. 

3.00 pm – 4.00 pm. 

Pat Hudson, University of Wales, Cardiff 

Giorgio Riello, Warwick University 

John Styles, University of Hertfordshire