The Ford Lectures in British History were founded by a bequest from James Ford, and inaugurated by S R Gardiner in 1896-7. Since then, an annual series has been delivered over six weeks in the Hilary term and they have long been established as the most prestigious series in Oxford and an important annual event in the History Faculty calendar.
Though sometimes elected from among the Oxford History Faculty, the Ford Lecturer is often a distinguished visitor from elsewhere in the United Kingdom, or further afield; towards the end of the series, the Lecturer generally convenes a seminar for faculty members and students, where the themes and ideas of the series are discussed. Alternating between medieval, early modern and modern history, the Lectures have provided a showcase allowing distinguished scholars to present their work to an Oxford audience, in a scholarly but accessible way; the attendance, which is often very large, habitually includes people from outside Oxford. The Lectures invariably result in important books, many of them classic and pioneering works of British history.
The focus this year will be on Ireland and the First English Empire (c.1550-1770s) but it is critical, where possible and appropriate, to look to other European and global empires for meaningful comparisons and contrasts. These lectures draw on a wide range of written, visual, and archaeological sources while works of poetry, prose, and performance help to recapture emotions and more nuanced senses of identity.
Four interconnected themes underpin the series. First, as England’s first colony, Ireland formed an integral part of the English imperial system. Second, as well as being colonised the Irish operated as active colonists in the English and other European empires. Third, the extent to which Ireland served as laboratory for empire in India and the Atlantic world is analysed. Finally, the impact empire had on the material and mental worlds of people living in early modern Ireland is examined alongside how these years are remembered today.
The recordings of the lectures will be uploaded to the website at the time of the talks and will remain available for the whole of Hilary Term to view at your convenience.
This series features in the following public collections: