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Two Meetings of Minds

Historians of the world unite at conference

Two major conferences this August seem set fair to bring together a huge array of historians from all corners of' the globe, presenting their material in innovative and cross-disciplinary ways. From as far afield as Uruguay and China, some 2000.historians will gather in Montreal for the 18th International Congress of Historical Sciences, an event started in the 1890s that now takes place every five years.

Even the most efficiently-chaired conferences are at the mercy of time-hogs, a breed, not: devoid of historians, who get carried away by the thrill of gaining access to 200 pairs of sedentary ears. The 1995 congress aims to avoid these animals, however, in a radical departure from previous years.

This year lengthy lectures are banned. Instead, in a bid for a more discussion- based congress, contributors or session 'rapporteurs' will give brief summaries of papers and the points raised in them before inviting debate. For the first time, participants are to have access to papers prior to the congress, when from June1st, they will be made available via E-mail, enabling people to formulate responses in advance.

The organising committee which has been planning the event for the past five years, have decided to democratise the conference by reducing by half the number of major themes and expanding, instead, the round table sessions which offer a unique opportunity for historians to sit down with their international counterparts, choosing their own platform guests and agendas for discussion.

The Congress President for 1995, Professor Theo Barker (only the second Briton to have the honour), told. History Today, 'We hope the 1995 Montreal Congress will provide a number of topics which will interest every Congress-goer coming to meet and exchange ideas and particularly attract younger scholars'.

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