I’m thrilled to have been awarded a Harry Ransom Center Short Term Research Fellowship in the Humanities to conduct research on my postdoctoral research project on collage before modernism. The Harry Ransom Center has a wealth of collections relevant to the project, including the infamous (but rather unstudied) Durenstein! Blood Book, created by John Bingley Garland in 1854 and given to his daughter shortly after. The ‘Blood Book’ is just one object I’ll be looking at during my month-long research fellowship at the Center, which I’ll be taking in 2018.
I’m thrilled to have been awarded a Huntington Library Short Term Fellowship for the 2017-2018 academic year. The award will allow me to conduct research for my postdoctoral project Collage before Modernism. The broader project will provide an unprecedented history of ‘assemblage’ produced in Britain, North America, and British India between 1700 and 1900. Employing an inclusive definition of the term, the project will examine a variety of material and literary forms of assemblage, including paper collage, shellwork, scrapbooking, and photocollage, and will explore how their production reflected the intimacies, interests, and identities of their makers.
The Fellowship will facilitate research for several aspects of the broader project, including an examination of a number of scrapbooks, commonplace books (both manuscript and published), and albums in the Library’s collections. I’ll also be looking at the correspondence of Robert Southey, Charles Lamb, and Elizabeth Montagu, and a number of grangerized books.
John Richard Coke Smyth, Elizabeth, Lady Eastlake. Watercolour
4 3/4 in. x 4 1/4 in. (121 mm x 108 mm), National Portrait Gallery, London.
First up, the conference programme for the Writing Art: Women Writers as Art Critics in the Long Eighteenth Century conference. The conference intersects with a number of my projects, firstly an article I’m currently writing on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century women travel writers and the narratives they tell through objects, and secondly, #WaysofSheing, a twitter-based project that aims to highlight and celebrate the contributions of female art historians. The conference features presentations on Elizabeth, Lady Eastlake (pictured above), Germaine de Staël, and the travel writer Maria Graham.
I enjoyed Sarah Read’s article ‘‘Gushing Out Blood’: Defloration and Menstruation in Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure‘, from a recent edition of the Journal of Medical Humanities. In the article Read explores how Cleland ‘repeatedly depicts and eroticises the act of defloration’ in his erotic 1740s novel Fanny Hill.
Deborah Cohen’s The Atlantic article ‘Before Straight and Gay: The discreet, disorienting passions of the Victorian era‘, which begins with a microcosmic examination of the queer histories of the Benson family, is a fascinating read.
I was fascinated by this BBC News video, on the forgotten Victorian botanical painter Marianne North.
I also really enjoyed this revealing interview with April Haynes, author of Riotous Flesh: Women, Physiology, and the Solitary Vice in Nineteenth-Century America in a recent post on the Notches blog.
As ever, the Public Domain Review has been a wonderful source of articles and objects. I particularly enjoyed this recent essay by Yvonne Seale on nineteenth-century genealogy.
The following CFPs and conferences also caught my attention:
CONF: Women, Authorship, and Identity in the Long Eighteenth Century: New Methodologies (June 17, 2017)
CFP: Anonymity Unmasked: Identity, Agency, Responsibility (September 13-15, 2017)
CFP: Death and the Maiden (July 21-24, 2017)
CFP: Romanticism and Popular Culture (November 3-5, 2017)
First up, I really enjoyed watching Dr Juliet Shields’ fortuitously timed lecture, ‘Did Sir Walter Scott Invent Scotland?’, which comes just ahead of my lectures on Scott’s legacy, visual representation, and his home of Abbotsford, which begin next week.
Secondly, I’m excited to see the National Museum of Scotland’s new free exhibition, Scottish pottery: Art and Innovation, which examines the wide range of pottery produced in the last 250 years.
I was interested to see that The John Rylands Library is hosting the event Rip It Up: A Celebration of the Counter-Culture, which includes a zine workshop. Thanks to their evocative collaged forms, zines are something that I’m becoming increasingly interested in. Due to their strong counter-cultural, extra-canonical nature, the production and consumption of zines can be a useful way to explore minority and non-heteronormative identity, something that I’d like to investigate in the future.
I’m looking forward to spending a few hours reading the latest volume of the Cahiers Victoriens et Édouardiens journal, a special issue entitled Object Lessons: The Victorians and the Material Text.
The Morgan Library’s new exhibition, I’m Nobody! Who are you? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson, examines twenty-four poems as well as ‘an array of visual material, including hand-cut silhouettes, photographs and daguerreotypes, contemporary illustrations, and other items that speak to the rich intellectual and cultural environment in which Dickinson lived and worked’.
This post about the wallpaper collector Suzanne Lipschutz is full of beautiful examples of vintage wallpapers.
I enjoyed reading a number of blog posts this week, including Shane Doyle’s post for Notches Blog (which is a perennial favourite of mine) ‘Local Sexual Cultures and the Response to HIV/AIDS Along the Uganda-Tanzania Border‘, which explores the history of how HIV understood within African communities. Hailey Maxwell’s post ‘DECAPITATION IN THE “LOW” SURREALIST REVOLUTION‘ is fascinating exploration of what ‘revolution’ is.
The following workshops and conferences also caught my eye this week:
CFP: International Design Organisations (Brighton, 8-10 Nov 17)
CFP: On the Matter of Blackness in Europe: Transnational Perspectives (May 4-5, 2017)
CFP: Corporeal Materiality (Dallas, 8 Apr 17)
CFP: David B. Warren Symposium on American Material Culture and the Texas Experience
CONF: Private Collecting and Public Display (Leeds, 30-31 Mar 17)
CONF: Symbolic Articulation (London, 10 Mar 17)
CFP: Culture on the Move in Edwardian Britain (Lancaster, 8-9
CFP: The material culture of exploration and academic travel, 1700-1900
Finally, I was thrilled to see that the National Trust and National Archives are hosting the event, ‘Queer city: London club culture 1918 – 1967‘, which will re-create the interiors of The Caravan, London’s queer-friendly members club of 1934.
This week the Bodleian Library’s John Johnson Collection of printed ephemera tweeted the following question on behalf of their visiting scholar Jill Shefrin.
— John Johnson Coll (@jjcollephemera) January 24, 2017
Shefrin is currently undertaking a major research project on writing blanks, objects which are are ephemeral, yet important pieces of visual and material culture. The post received several responses, unearthing some truly beautiful examples of the genre:
— Stephen Barker (@Stephen25367746) January 24, 2017
— Sandy Rich (@MrSandyRich) January 26, 2017
This got me thinking about my own research into the ephemeral, specifically my postdoctoral project on collage and assemblage before the twentieth century. Aside from the research I’ve completed as part of the project’s pilot study (which I discuss here and here), so far I’ve mostly be concerned with finding out what collaged objects survive in what collections. This has meant many a rewarding hour trawling museum and library catalogues, and has led to some really exciting discoveries that I’m anxious to research further over the next few years.
It’s because of this richness—the huge variety of collaged objects preserved in museum collections today—that I’m convinced that many many more examples must be out there, both in museum and private collections. As the project progresses, I fully intend to follow the John Johnson Collection’s example and use Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media to try and unearth as many examples of collage from colleagues, research institutions, and the public more broadly.
As my research on collage is inherently concerned with ideas of intimacy and identity, I’m particularly keen to learn about personal, private objects – objects that might have passed down through several generations, rich with inherited meaning, yet whose private (i.e. non-institutional) nature might mean that these stories are never heard. Accordingly, I’m becoming increasingly interested in the prospect of creating a kind of crowdsourced ‘database’ of collaged objects, where individuals can submit objects, images, stories, and reflections. The contours of such a project will obviously need further delineation, but I feel like it could make a fascinating counterpart to the more ‘academic’ aspects of this project. As ever, I’ll be posting more about my various research projects as they develop, and stay tuned for a post on ‘the book proposal’ coming asap.
First up this week, is the Victoria & Albert Museum’s exhibition Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London, a fascinating exploration of the life, work and lasting impact of John Lockwood Kipling (1837 – 1911), an artist, writer, museum director, teacher, conservationist and influential figure in the Arts and Crafts movement. The exhibition includes a wide array of objects, including book plates, jewellery, furniture, photographs, and other forms of decorative art. The exhibition is complemented by the conference The Many Careers of John Lockwood Kipling (25 Feb), and runs until 2 April.
Secondly, I enjoyed Pat Thomson’s post, ‘What does a book proposal reviewer do?‘. Having recently acted as a reader for a press, while concurrently having my own book proposal under review at another, the ideas in this post are something I’ve been thinking about a lot.
I was interested to note two complementary conferences on issues of photography and materiality, the first Photo Archives VI: The Place of Photography (Oxford, 20-21 Apr 17), and the second, Photo-Objects. On the Materiality of Photographs and Photo-Archives in the Humanities and Sciences (Florence, 15-17 Feb 16). As I continue my new research on photocollage, I’m becoming increasingly concerned with the idea of photograph-as-object, something that these conferences also look to explore.
As a keen advocate of academic blogging, I read Jeanne de Montbaston’s post Why do academic blogging? with interest. I find it particularly interesting that so much of de Montbaston’s teaching and research output starts life in the blog post form. I’m keen to experiment with blogging from the early stages of my research process for my new project on collage.
I’m eager to hear more about the newly-launched Eighteenth-century Arts Education Research Network (EAERN), which recently received funding from the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The network ‘brings together an international community of researchers in music, art, literature, history, and dance to share approaches to investigate eighteenth-century arts educational materials‘.
The following conferences, seminars, and CFPs also caught my eye:
CFP: At Close Quarters: Experiencing the Domestic, c.1400-1600
CFP: Beyond Between Men: Homosociality Across Time
CFP: Imagined Forms: Models and Material Culture, UD-CMCS/Hagley; November 2017
Programme: Edinburgh’s Nineteenth-Century Research Seminars
CFP: Mapping Black Mobilities and Identities in the Long 19th Century
CFP: Harts & Minds, Vol.3, Issue 2 (2017) ‘Embodied Masculinities’
CFP: Arthur Symons at the Fin de Siècle (21 July 2017)
CFP: Beyond the Home: New Histories of Domestic Servants (Oxford, 8 September 2017)
CFP: Printmaking in America, 1800-1865 (Gloucester, 28 Oct 17)
CFP: Full Circle: The Medal in Art History (New York, 8-9 Sep 17)
Image via The Conversation
Perhaps the most significant event this week, was the passing of the great art critic John Berger, whose hugely influential book and tv series ‘Ways of Seeing’, has been a touchstone of art historical and critical enquiry since its publication in the 1970s. Many excellent articles and obituaries of Berger were published this week, including this, this, and this.
I was excited to see that Joanne Begiato’s article ‘Tears and the Manly Sailor in England, c. 1760–1860‘, in the Journal for Maritime Research is free access. Download it here.
I greatly enjoyed the post, ‘Feel free to call me Dr.’ on the Tenure, She Wrote blog. It’s excellent on the politics of nomenclature in academia, and the importance of these issues for academics who are from minority backgrounds. I also enjoyed Dr Kieran Fenby-Hulse’s post, ‘From 2016 to 2017: Thoughts on Research Practice, Embedding Creativity, Punk Academia, and Work-Life Balance‘, which is also great on issues of identity within the academy.
There were a number of events that drew my attention this week, including the Centre for the History of the Emotions‘ 2017 Seminar Programme , the upcoming event ‘Living With Feeling in the Nineteenth-Century‘ at Royal Holloway’s Centre for Victorian Studies, and the Cruising the 1970s project’s event ‘Between the Sheets: Radical print cultures before the queer bookshop‘.
The following CFPs also caught my eye:
Call for Submissions: Anthology on Arab Masculinity
CFP: Moving Beyond Paris and London: Influences, Circulation, and Rivalries in Fashion and Textiles between France and England, 1700-1914 (Paris, October 13-14, 2017)
CFP: Remembering the Dead: Slavery and Mortality through Visual Culture in Comparative Perspective, AHA 2018 Panel (Washington D.C., 4-7 January 2018)
Call for Submissions: Museums Journal (theme: ‘Small’)
Call for Participation: Material Culture Caucus at 2017 ASA Conference
CFP: “Hope and Fear”: Interdisciplinary Conference in the Humanities
CFP: Milestones, Markers, and Moments: Turning Points in American Experience and Tradition
CFP: International Postgraduate Port and Maritime Studies Conference (20-21 April 2017, University of Bristol)
CFP: Classical Antiquity & Memory (19th – 21st Century)
I also really enjoyed the following interview with the design historian Glenn Adamson, titled, ‘The Object as Reality-Check’. It’s a fascinating read that ties discussions of material objects, past and present, with their political contexts. Specifically, Adamson discusses this in relation to his recent course ‘Objects of Dispute‘, a 10 session-long intensive seminar offered as part of the MA in History of Design and Curatorial Studies, run jointly by The New School’s Parsons School of Design and the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York, and in so doing, teases out the pedagogical issues of teaching about contentious material culture in the current political climate.
Tonight, I listened to my colleague Christian Weikop’s fascinating Radio 3 programme, Kandinsky – A Story of Revolution. It’s available on iPlayer now.
Finally, I note that Yale Center for British Art is advertising its Curatorial Research Fellowship opportunity – there’s just a few more days left, so submit your applications while you can!