Material Culture

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


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.

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.

Abstract for the Small Things in the Eighteenth Century Conference (6-7 June, 2019)

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I’m thrilled to have had the abstract for my paper, ‘‘Joineriana’: the fragmentary form across eighteenth-century culture‘ accepted for the Small Things in the Eighteenth Century conference, hosted by CECS York in June 2019. Details of my paper are included below.

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‘Joineriana’: the fragmentary form across eighteenth-century culture

This paper takes its title from a letter written by Anna Letitia Barbauld to her brother John in 1775, in which she suggested that they might someday ‘sew all our fragments, and make a Joineriana of them,’ going on to list a range of incomplete literary productions, including ‘half a ballad,’ ‘the first scene of a play,’ and some ‘loose similes’, that might form part of a collected volume of such pieces.[1] Using the metaphor of the patchwork quilt, sewn from many fabric fragments to create a complete whole, the letter highlights the intermediality of the fragmentary form in eighteenth-century culture. Existing between literary, visual, and material forms, it encompassed scraps, excerpts, clippings, patches, and pieces of all of kinds. From patchwork quilts, commonplace books, and wunderkammer, to specimen tables, albums, and mosaics, eighteenth-century culture was itself a ‘joineriana’, teeming with a veritable proliferation of fragmentary objects.

Previous literature on the eighteenth-century fragment has focused on two interrelated areas of enquiry. Firstly, scholarship has examined the ‘fragmentary mode’ in contemporary literary production, particularly within texts such as James Macpherson’s 1760 Fragments of ancient poetry, collected in the Highlands of Scotland, and translated from the Gaelic or Erse language, in which the piecemeal nature of the ‘collected’ poetic prose reinforced ideas of authenticity.[2] Correspondingly, research on the fragment has also focused on antiquarian and Romantic interest in the ruin, compellingly relating this to ideas of history, chronology, and the picturesque.[3] This paper builds on this existing research to scrutinize the fragment across a much broader spectrum of eighteenth-century culture, demonstrating its pervasiveness across a range of visual, material, and literary forms at this time.

Examining cultural production in eighteenth-century Britain at the level of its smallest constitutive elements, this paper looks at a range of collections, assemblages, and composite manuscripts. Arguing that the fragment was a central cultural device during this period, it suggests that paying attention to such forms allows us to think about key issues within eighteenth-century art and literature. Firstly, by asking how and where fragments were encountered, collected, and sourced within eighteenth-century life, the paper will reveal how fragments allow us to better understand contemporary processes of consumption and production, such as acquisition and collection, translation and adaptation, as well as broader cultural paradigms of the period, such as the print and consumer ‘revolutions’.  Secondly, the paper will examine how such fragmentary forms related to self-fashioning, exploring the relationship between materiality and identity, sexuality, and emotion. Finally, the paper will also consider the terminologies and nomenclature associated with such objects to think about the deeper meanings of the fragment during this period. By interrogating terms such as ‘scrap’, ‘morsel’ and ‘mosaic’, the paper will consider how these forms were rooted in regimes of scale, permanency, and value that have survived into histories of art and culture today. In so doing, the paper will demonstrate that although fragments were often by their very nature incomplete, ephemeral, and evanescent, they are nevertheless central to our understanding of both eighteenth-century culture, and the histories we write about it.

[1] The Works of Anna Laetitia Barbauld. With a Memoir by Lucy Aikin, 2 vols. (London, 1825), 2:9.

[2] For example, see S. Jung, The Fragmentary Poetic: Eighteenth-Century Uses of an Experimental Mode (Lehigh University Press, 2009).

[3] See S. Thomas, Romanticism and Visuality: Fragments, History, Spectacle (London: Routledge, 2007).

Journal Article – ‘Craft(ing) Narratives: Specimens, Souvenirs and “Morsels” in A la Ronde’s Specimen Table’, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, vol. 31 no. 1, 2018, pp. 77-97

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I couldn’t be more please to announce that my article, ‘Craft(ing) Narratives: Specimens, Souvenirs and “Morsels” in A la Ronde’s Specimen Table‘ is now out in Eighteenth-Century Fiction, as part of a bumper double special issue on ‘Material Fictions‘, edited by Eugenia Zuroski and Michael Yonan. You can read the article here, and my abstract is below.

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Abstract for Text, Artefact, Identity: Horace Walpole and the Queer Eighteenth Century (15-16 February, 2019)

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I’m thrilled that my paper ‘Inheriting Strawberry Hill: Shared Practices and Shared Spaces’ has been accepted for next year’s conference Text, Artefact, Identity: Horace Walpole and the Queer Eighteenth Century. The conference brings together scholars and curators from the disciplines of Literature, Cultural History, Art and Architectural History, and Heritage to investigate LGBTQ perspectives on the ‘long’ eighteenth century. The abstract for my paper is included below.

Inheriting Strawberry Hill: Shared Practices and Shared Spaces

This paper will examine Anne Seymour Damer’s brief inheritance and ownership of Horace Walpole’s home Strawberry Hill, following his death in 1797. Although much of the scholarship on the house to date has focused on the design and decoration of Walpole’s gothic-revival edifice, comparatively little research has been conducted on the significance of Damer’s acquisition of the property. Building upon the extensive body of literature on Walpole and sexuality, this paper shifts focus to consider his relationship with Damer, another figure whose sexual orientation has been the subject of intense speculation. Positing Damer’s inheritance of Strawberry Hill as Walpole’s attempt at creating a queer familial legacy for his home, the paper situates this transaction in relation to the interconnected contexts of ownership and loss, emotion and materiality. Alongside a consideration of Damer’s inheritance of Strawberry Hill, which will be identified as a shared space enjoyed by both her and Walpole, the paper will also examine the pair’s shared practices revolving around the house, specifically their coactive extra-illustration of copies of Walpole’s A Description of the Villa of Mr. Horace Walpole (1784). In so doing, the paper will demonstrate the centrality of the relationship between materiality, queer sociability, and emotion in our understanding of both Strawberry Hill and the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century home more broadly.