Publication – Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies Special Issue – Making Masculinity: Craft, Gender and Material Production in the Long Nineteenth Century

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I’m thrilled to announce that the special issue of Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies that I co-edited with Dr Katie Faulkner (Courtauld Institute of Art) has now been published! The issue, ‘Making Masculinity: Craft, Gender and Material Production in the Long Nineteenth Century’, features an Introduction by Katie and myself, as well as a number of articles that examine the relationship between craft and masculinity in the long eighteenth century. The issue takes both a literal approach to the topic – exploring traditional crafts and their practitioners – and a metaphorical one – using craft to think about how masculinity was itself constructed. You can read the whole  issue (which is OA) here.


Programme: Constructions of Love and the Emotions of Intimacy, 1750-1850

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The programme for the Constructions of Love and the Emotions of Intimacy, 1750-1850 conference is now online. I’ll be presenting my work on Anna Seward, affective portraiture and gift exchange (abstract available here).


Constructions of Love and the Emotions of Intimacy, 1750-1850

Saturday 9th February 2019

Provisional Programme

09.30 – 10.00              Welcome and Registration with Tea and Coffee (Graduate Space, 4th Floor, Humanities)

10.00 – 10.10              Introduction (H545, 5th Floor, Humanities)


10.10 – 11.10              1st Keynote – Dr Sally Holloway, Oxford Brookes,

The Progress of Love: Courtship, Emotions & Material Culture in Georgian England


 11.10 – 12.40             Session 1   –   Marriage

Angela Platt, Royal Holloway, ‘Earthly’ love vs. ‘Godly’ love – gendered notions of love and duty within dissenting marriages

Samantha-Jo Armstrong, University of Birmingham, “The Kindness of Love: Kindness in Women’s Marriage in Late Eighteenth-Century Britain”

Dr Pärttyli Rinne, University of Helsinki, Kant on Love and Intimacy in Marriage and Friendship


12.40 – 13.20              Lunch


 13.20 – 15.20              Session 2   –   Methodology, Material Culture, and Practices

Professor Julie Hardwick, University of Texas, “Faire l’amour: Emotions, Intimacy and Working People’s Practices of Love in an Old Regime City”

Megan Batterbee, University of Kent, ‘If once subdued […] always subdued?’: Issues of Consent in Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa

 Dr Freya Gowrley, University of Edinburgh, ‘Pledges of an highly-prized friendship’: Anna Seward, Portraiture, and the Poetics of Exchange

Maggan Kalenak, University of Cambridge, “Kiss This Letter Before You Put It By”: Domestic Performance, Material Culture and Fantasy Fodder in Nineteenth Century Love Letters


15.20 – 15.30              Tea and Coffee


15.30 – 16.30              2nd Keynote – Dr Daisy Hay, University of Exeter,

Benjamin and Mary Anne Disraeli: Constructing a Love Story                    


16.30 – 18.00              Session 3 – Politeness, Adultery, and Falling out of Love

Simona Di Martino, University of Warwick, The polite intimacy in Italian cultural salons: the love correspondence between Ugo Foscolo and Isabella Teotochi Albrizzi as a case study

Professor David Stack, University of Reading, The higher pleasures of platonic adultery: the case of John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor

Dr Kerstin Pahl, Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Berlin), When Affection Grows Cold: Falling Out of Love in Nineteenth-Century England


18.00 – 19.00              Wine reception


Week in Review – 6 January

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The Week in Review is back! It is, I promise. In fact, one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to keep it going. So here’s my picks from the first week of 2019!

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With Marie Kondo back in the news (let’s not get into a heated debate about what to do with your books though), I thought I’d share this great piece on her methods from 2016. Kondo is fascinating for me as a scholar of the relationship between emotions and objects, and this is a compelling examination of the phenomenon associated with her.

This nice little piece from the Guardian on the first exhibition detailing some LGBTQ+ histories of video games at Berlin’s Schwules Museum.

This great post, on ‘“so a word to the wise’: reassessing the role of the upper-class Irish father in nineteenth-century childrearing’, on the Perceptions of Pregnancy blog.



As ever, there’s lots of great things coming up. Here’s a few faves:

PMC Doctoral & Early Career Researchers Networks: Discussing Landscape 

Romance, Intimacy and Love: An Inclusive Interdisciplinary Conference

CFP: Histories of Sexuality and Erudition: Institutions, Texts, Practices (Princeton, May 10-11, 2019)

Mobilities and Materialities: Building Bridges Between Past and Future

CFP: Victorian Visions

Pretty Ugly: Early Modern Beauty, 1400-1800

Embroidered with Dust and Mortar: Women and Architecture, 1660–1830
2019 Georgian Group Symposium  [I particularly love the title of this one]



This great new blog on Early Modern female book ownership.

The Janet Arnold Awards for scholars working on the history of dress. £350 to £5,000, deadline 15 Jan.

So just a short one this week, but expect some longer posts once the year properly gets going…

Conference Session: Association for Art History 2019 Annual Conference|Modern(ist) objects? The objet trouvé in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Session Details

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4403133_06Frontispiece, A Catalogue of the Portland Museum, lately the property of the Duchess Dowager of Portland, deceased, which will be sold by auction by Mr. Skinner and Co., on Monday the 24th of April, 1786.

Now that we’ve finally confirmed our speakers, I’m excited to be able to share the details of our Association for Art History 2019 Annual Conference session on the found object in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Below you’ll find our session abstract and those of our speakers.

Session Abstract

Modern(ist) objects? The objet trouvé in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

Molly Duggins (National Art School, Sydney) & Freya Gowrley (University of Edinburgh)

Marcel Duchamp’s series of ‘readymades’, particularly the infamous Fountain of 1917, are often viewed as heralding a watershed moment in the history of art. Produced between 1913 and 1921, Duchamp utilised found and appropriated objects, often drawn from everyday life, to redefine and question the very nature of art. Yet the art historical emphasis on the revolutionary nature of Duchamp’s practice overlooks the productive possibilities offered by a longer and more fluid notion of the found object, or objet trouvé. Indeed, found objects have a long and venerable history stretching back well before the advent of Modernism, being used in the production of an array of cultural practices throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Transformed by aesthetic and material processes such as display, translation, and adaptation, both everyday and extraordinary found objects proliferate in collections, collages, still lives, manuscripts, and assemblages made throughout this period. This session accordingly seeks to examine the expanded field of the found object and the readymade by exploring these earlier manifestations.


Paper Abstracts

‘Excavating the ‘Other’: (Post) Colonial Archaeology and Dextrous Encounter in the Duchess of Portland’s Box’

 Madeleine Pelling, University of York

Sometime in the 1780s, Margaret Cavendish Bentinck, duchess of Portland wrote out a label for an object in her famous Portland Museum. The object in question was a figurine carved from shell over a hundred years earlier. She recorded how “this was found on a small isl[and] near Exuma it is supposed to have been left there by th[e] Indians and made of the shell of a conch.” She then placed the figurine inside a wooden box, arranging it alongside a green hardstone axe head, an ancient Egyptian figurine, an eagle stone in a sewn wash-leather bag, and a folded paper containing a preserved butterfly. For the duchess, the moment of ‘discovery’ was a central conceit useful in constructing a largely fictive and European fantasy of an unknown people, embodied and fetishized in the objects themselves which, through excavation of the box, could be ‘found’ again and again by the duchess and her visitors.

This paper is simultaneously concerned with the box as a framework designed to prompt tactile enquiry, and the hand as a colonial apparatus used to discover fictions attached to the material objects within. It builds on Constance Classen’s claim for the tactility of the eighteenth-century museum, as well as Kate Smith’s work on the eighteenth-century hand as an extension of the burgeoning world of material commodity. I suggest the box as a liminal space that offered any visitor who might put their hand into its depths the chance to enter a carefully designated in-between space in which tactile excavation brought with it bodily encounters with a different world, textures and materials. Although lifting the lid of the box triggered an invitation to excavate its contents, the truth is that none of the objects inside had ever been subterranean. The kind of archaeology practiced in this context, and practiced theoretically throughout this paper, relies on the plumbing of the container itself and a bringing of its contents to the surface as a way to expose the cultural assumptions and stories attached to them.


‘Superfluous Springs: fontaines à parfum and the marchands–merciers in eighteenth–century Paris as ‘Perturbed Objects”’

 Patricia Ferguson, British Museum, Britain, Europe and Pre–History, Project Curator, 18th Century Ceramics

 In Surrealist Objects and Poems, 1937, Herbert Read recorded the term ‘perturbed objects’. It was represented by a work of art by Julian and Ursula Trevelyan, Large Bomblette (Tate, London, T07465), which brought together an unusual assemblage of materials in a bizarre form of display with comic connotations. The incongruity of the arrangement (and wit) is not dissimilar from eighteenth-century fontaines à parfum created in eighteenth-century Paris by marchands–merciers (“Makers of nothing, sellers of everything”) from ‘found objects’ mounted in gilt metal (ormolu) or other precious materials. For the most part these are unique objects juxtaposed from exotic, but familiar, playful, readymade elements, primarily of porcelain, which had independent historiographies outside of these assemblages. However, rather than being non–functional works of art, these unexpected historic combinations were an ultimate indulgence enjoyed by the aristocracy, forming part of the performance of ablutions in the private apartments, dispensing the most ephemeral of luxury goods, perfume. As inventive taste–makers, these retailers purchased rare second–hand goods or commissioned bespoke porcelain from Asia or Europe, for which they ordered mounts to their own specifications. Their unsettling aesthetic is not always pleasing as the mounts domesticating the foreign may disguise ravages of use or confusing scales, which are frequently combined with artificial flowers referencing the contents to be dispensed. In the most inventive examples, fontaines à parfum change our perception of the original objects assembled, embodying very antithesis of Duchamp’s Fountain of 1917.


Domestic Materialities: found object and natural material collages in Victorian-Canadian Women’s Albums’

 Hilary Dow, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

This paper will examine the presence of found objects and multimedia collages found in Victorian women’s albums in Canada. During the Victorian era, upper-middle class settler women experimented with a range of domestic and natural found objects such as lace, hair, seaweed, shells, rocks, leaves, flowers, and ferns. Through collaging such found objects, Canadian women created complex and aesthetic designs, which they typically pasted into their personal, family photograph and souvenir albums.  This paper does not seek to study albums as objects, but rather, investigate the nature and styles of collage from the period, a topic which has never been examined in Canadian scholarship. Examples of collages which will be discussed in this conference paper include collage pages from A Souvenir of Victoria Album from British Columbia, Lady Belleau Album from Quebec and C.W. Bell Album from Ontario. Theoretically, I will examine the relationship between the materiality of objects used in these unique collages and their associative meanings, taking into account materiality, feminist, photographic and settler-colonial theory (Batchen 2004, Di Bello 2007, Duggins 2018, Edwards 1999).  I argue that found objects were used in such collages to reference materials and places associated with domestic spaces, colonialism, death, and memory.


‘The Found Object in 18th and 19th Century Home “Art” Craft’

Marilyn Casto, Associate Professor, Art History, Virginia Tech

This presentation examines the role of found objects, particularly those obtained from nature, in women’s craft work of the 18th and 19th centuries and the purposes and goals for their use in work intended to create an artistic ambiance. This era saw the development of many applications of what was basically collage with found objects resulting in the creation of “paintings” made from assorted materials, particularly bark, pinecones and other natural materials. Women also used surfaces such as fungi as a background for drawing, making the found object the integral and intentional basis for the art.

There were four main goals in the use of such materials. 1. Memory. Plants, shells, and other natural materials served to evoke the memory of family or friends who may have been present when they were gathered or who provided the substances. 2. Connection to web of others. Materials such as shells or feathers were often exchanged among friends and acquaintances creating a web of contacts who broadened a maker’s world. 3. Ties to nature. Use of substances sourced from the natural world demonstrated interest in a topic that for many reasons became an obsession for the era. 4. Demonstration of resourcefulness. Use of unconventional materials such as fish scales or drawings on fungi provided a physical demonstration of an individual’s creativity and ability to envision new concepts in use of materials.


Exhibition: Cut and Paste | 400 years of Collage, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

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Over the past year I’ve had the privilege of working on the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art’s forthcoming 2019 exhibition, Cut and Paste: 400 Years of Collage. The show features a huge range of collaged images and objects, including medical flap-prints from the late seventeenth century, scrapscreens and scrapbooks, and collaged valentines cards, and is the first survey exhibition on such a broad chronological array of collage to be held in the UK.

Thanks to the show’s wonderful curator, Dr Patrick Elliot, I was invited to discuss the selection of works for the exhibitions room of collages made before 1900; to go on collection visits; and to write an essay on collage made before 1900 for the show’s catalogue. I’ll share more information about the show and the catalogue as it’s shared by the Gallery, but for now, I’ll just say what a dream it’s been to work on an exhibition so closely related to one of my research projects! Truly being valued (and remunerated!) for your expertise doesn’t often happen as an ECR, so this has been such a great experience.

Association for Art History Careers Day, Glasgow, 6 December 2018

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I’m happy to be speaking at the Association for Art History’s annual Careers Day event, which will be held in Glasgow on 6 December. The day is aimed at undergraduate, masters and doctoral students who are studying art, art history or visual culture and are keen know more about careers in the arts, culture and heritage sectors.

The day offers specific advice, experience and expertise from professionals working in different areas and roles in these sectors. This year the day will cover careers in Academia, Museums & Galleries, Arts & Business as well as prospects for Early Career Researchers.

I’ll be speaking about my experiences of being an early career art historian in Panel 4, ‘Academia and Beyond for Early Career Researchers’. A full programme and tickets are available here.

Abstract for Women and the Arts in the Long Eighteenth Century (8 March 2019)

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I’m super excited to have had my abstract accepted for the Women and the Arts in the Long Eighteenth Century conference. I’ll be speaking on the topic of ‘Collage before Modernism? Periodization, Gender and Eighteenth-Century Women’s Collage’, abstract below.

Collage before Modernism? Periodization, Gender and Eighteenth-Century Women’s Collage

In the essay ‘Collage: A Brief History’, Dawn Ades writes that ‘when Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque started gluing bits to their pictures in 1912, this had nothing to do with long-standing popular past-times like pasting cut out images onto fire screens, and everything to do with art’. Ades’ statement is typical of existing histories of collage, which tend to figure the genre as the result of modernist innovation, as opposed to a medium with a long and distinctive history. Crucially, the quotation also reinforces a number of entrenched hierarchies within art history: differences between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art forms; divisions of modern and pre-modern; and, most crucially, the gendered separation between artist and amateur. Yet these categorical distinctions pose fundamental questions about the nature of art itself, prompting considerations of how art is defined, of the identities and motivations of those who make it, and of why certain objects have been consistently overlooked by art history.

This paper has two aims, firstly to provide a detailed examination of collage made by women in the long eighteenth-century, arguing for its centrality as a mode of female artistic expression during this period. Secondarily, it will identify periodization as a central evaluative and organisational methodology within art history, arguing that the strict distinction drawn between collage made before and after 1912 is central to the explicitly gendered ways in which collage has been conceptualized, and often dismissed. The paper will address and trouble this sharp division by framing it in terms of the gendered disentanglement of art from craft, whilst highlighting the productive possibilities of a transhistorical approach to collage, which fully takes women’s production of the genre in the long eighteenth century into account.