MERL Seminars

A Research Forum brings together academics from around the University with an interest in using and promoting the Museum's collections for research purposes. It organises talks and seminars based on this work which are open to the public.

Admission to the seminars is free and open to all, but as places for some of the seminars are limited, we request that you let us know in advance if you are planning to attend in by email:, or by telephone: +44 (0) 118 378 8660.

To receive regular email reminders and updates about these events, please email and ask to be added to the mailing list.


Current series, Spring 2015

Jakobsen seminar smallDiscovering the Landscape

February & March, 2015 

  • 1-2pm 
  • Free
  • Conference room, Museum of English Rural Life

MERL received the archives and library of the Landscape Institute. Our Spring seminar series focuses on these collections as well as the figures and themes which have shaped the English landscape over the past 200 years.

For full details of the series, go to Discovering the Landscape


Previous series

Archives and texts seminarsArchives & Texts seminar series, Autumn 2014

'Archives & Texts' is an interdisciplinary research seminar series co-organised by the Departments of English and Modern Languages & European Studies, which, in the Autumn of 2014, focused on the University's Special Collections.

For full details go to


Berkshire YeomanryMERL Seminar series, Spring/Summer 2014 - The Great War and the countryside

This special series of MERL Seminars, which begins on April 29th, has been convened in collaboration with The Friends of the University of Reading as part of a wider programme of events to mark a century since the outbreak of the First World War. The talks will reveal a range of narratives, including some connected with Berkshire and Reading. Others will chart the varied ways in which this terrible conflict came to impact upon the British countryside and beyond.

For full details go to MERL Seminars: The Great War and the countryside


MERL Seminar series, Spring 2014 - Untouchable England

The series draws inspiration from the fact that the MERl collections may soon be packed away temporarily as part of Our Country Lives project. This seems a timely moment to give thought to the less material facets of life in rural England. How can we best explore stories, performances, poetry, folklore, mythology, skills and knowledge of rural people? These lunch time talks offer fresh prespectives and thought-provoking content about how different forms of intangible heritage might help us explore and better understand rural England.

For full details go to For full details go to MERL Seminars: Untouchable England


MERL Seminar series, Autumn 2013 - Women and the countryside

Experts delivered a short series of talks, which explored the diverse and important role of women in the English countryside.

For full details go to MERL Seminar series: Women and the countryside


MERL Seminar series, 2012/13

Children and the Countryside

Experts from across the University of Reading and beyond delivered an interdisciplinary series of talks, which sought to explore the complex relationship between childhood and the countryside. These MERL Seminars were convened to complement the temporary exhibition What to Look For: Ladybird, Tunnicliffe, and the search for meaning. For details of the 2012/13 seminars, visit MERL Seminar series: Children and the countryside


MERL Seminar series, Autumn/Winter 2011

Literature and the Countryside

For details of the Autumn/Winter 2011 seminars, visit MERL Seminars: Literature and the Countryside Series


MERL Seminar Programme, Spring 2011

  • Nucleus of a folk-lore museum: folk-lore, material culture and a museum that never existed
    10 May, 4.30pm
    Dr Ollie Douglas, University of Reading

  • MERL 60th anniversary logo bmpMedia and the countryside Symposium
    12 May, 10am to 5pm

    • £10, booking required

    This special symposium is part of MERL's 60th anniversary events programme. For further details and a full programme, click here

  • Conservation and analysis of the UK's oldest windmills
    18 January, 4.30pm
    Luke Bonwick, Bonwick Milling Heritage Consultancy

  • Transatlantic traffic in rural imaginations
    22 February, 4.30pm
    Garrett Dash Nelson, University of Nottingham

  • Business and Pleasure: women, work and the professionalisation of farming as a female career in England, c.1900-1950
    8 March, 4.30pm
    Dr Nicola Verdon, Sheffield Hallam University

  • Rethinking Pitt Rivers: analysing the activities of a nineteenth century collector
    15 March, 4.30pm

    Alison Petch and Jeremy Coote, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

  • Doing a good work: the Women's Institutes and village history in the interwar period
    22 March, 4.30pm

    Bridget Yates, University of Gloucestershire


MERL Seminar Programme, Autumn 2010

  • A wasteful use of national resources? Farm subsidy in the uplands 1947-1970
    19 October, 4.30pm

    Dr Hilary Crowe, University of Cambridge and MERL Research Fellow


  • The Making of Ballet
    2 November, 4.30pm (Rescheduled from January 2010)
    Susanne Clausen, artist and Reader in Fine Art at the University of Reading


  • Landscapes and ecology - towards a sustainable future
    16 November, 4.30pm
    Dr Geoffrey Griffiths, University of Reading


  • Shooting parties, gamekeepers and poachers
    30 November, 4.30pm

    Caroline Carr-Whitworth, Curator, Art, English Heritage (Brodsworth Hall)


  • A grateful nation? British agriculture and the post-war reconstruction
    7 December, 4.30pm
    Dr Clare Griffiths, University of Sheffield



MERL Seminar Programme, Spring 2010

  • Roundhouses, earthworks and worms: The role of experimental archaeology in understanding the past
    2 February, 4.30pm

    Professor Martin Bell, Professor of Archaeological Science, University of Reading


  • Landscapes of reconstruction
    23 February, 4.30pm

    Paul Stiff, Reader in Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading


  • Doing their bit: English children’s contribution to agricultural production during the Second World War
    16 March, 4.30pm

    Virginia Morrow, Reader of Childhood Studies, and Professor Berry Mayall, Professor of Childhood Studies, Institute of Education, University of London


  • What is agribusiness?
    15 June, 4.30pm

    Shane Hamilton, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Georgia.



MERL Symposium

  • Art and Landscape: interdisciplinary perspectives
    18 May, 2010, 2 to 6.30pm

Download the full programme (pdf - 691KB)


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