In the second of my IASH Twitter Takeover ‘favourite collages’ posts, I want to talk about something that you might not think about as being a collage at all – two commonplace books made c.1885 by Ellen Warter, the granddaughter of the Romantic poet Robert Southey, now held at the Centre for Research Collections at the University of Edinburgh.
Page from the commonplace book of Ellen Warter, granddaughter of Robert Southey, Coll-1559, Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh.
A popular practice since classical antiquity, the production of commonplace books involved the compilation of excerpted texts from a broad array of writers on a variety of topics. Like traditional paper collage, then, they are collections of materials from a range of different sources, reformulated into a new object. Despite this compiled and composite nature, commonplace books are rarely conceived of in relation to collage. Instead, they tend to be discussed more as records of reading practices, knowledge exchange, and education.
Yet Ellen Warter’s commonplace books tell a more complex story than this.Warter devoted over 300 pages of her volumes to the lives and literature of the Brontë family, who were the objects of her sustained estimation, affection, and documentation. This specific emphasis upon the Brontës relates Warter’s albums to a specific type of album-making: namely, the production of volumes dedicated to literary celebrities, a practice enacted throughout the nineteenth century. Beyond this fascination with the Brontës however, the practice of commonplacing was firmly intertwined with Warter’s own family history. As the granddaughter of Robert Southey, she was part of a family whose own commonplacing and album-making spanned several generations. Warter’s grandfather, aunts, mother, and father all made, or contributed to the production of, composite volumes, a literary inheritance that places Warter’s own productions within a longer history and set of material practices. Crucially, such practices were also enacted within the broader Romantic circle, with Southey contributing to the volumes of his friends’ daughters, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Caroline Bowles, Charles Lamb, and Edward Quillinan reciprocally adding poems to the albums of Edith Southey, Warter’s mother. For Warter then, commonplacing was not only an educative practice, but an inherently social one, with her compilation of ‘Brontëana’ consistent with the collective practices of her own extended literary family.
More than the sum of their collaged parts then, Warter’s commonplace books are not only a collection of individual details and textual clippings, but evoke the broader contexts of authorship, celebrity, and collaboration.
Hatfield Family Bible, Case folio BS185 1838.N4, Newberry Library
A round up of CFPs, conferences, and posts from the last week (…or so).
First up: a bit of self promo. There’s still a little while left before the deadline for our call for articles for the special issue of Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, Making Masculinity: Craft, Gender, and Material Production in the Long Nineteenth Century. We’d love to see articles from you! The full CFA is available here.
Similarly, Cole Collins and I are really excited to read your collage-related abstracts for our upcoming conference Collage, Montage, Assemblage: Collected and Composite Forms, 1700-Present. The CFP is available here, and we even wrote a post on our favourite scholarly works on collage here.
Next, this post from the Newberry’s blog, The Rite Stuff, examining ‘Family History in a Bible’. I really enjoy the object biography approach taken to the object.
CFPs that caught my eye this week included:
CFP – Passing: Fashion in American Cities
CFP – Interior Provocations – Interiors without Architecture
CFP – Making Things Modular
CFP – Fire and Water: Entangled Histories of Empire and Science in the Early Modern Americas
CFP – Remarkable Things: The Agency of Objecthood and The Power of Materiality
CFP – Creative Pedagogies: Approaches to the Commonplace Book
CFP – C19: Acts of Consumption: Performance, Bodies, Culture
CFP – Crafting an Enlightened World: Patronage & Pioneers
Today marks the beginning of my last week of my Short-Term Research Fellowship at the Winterthur Museum, so once the craziness of the summer has passed, I’ll be back to regular Week in Review posts, so watch this space!
Last week I was in London for the excellent Sibylline Leaves: Chaos and Compilation in the Romantic Period conference. In this post, I’ll try to cobble together some coherent thoughts generated by the event, particularly in terms of how the ideas raised relate to my own work on collage in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The conference marks the bicentenary of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poetry collection Sibylline Leaves, whose title references Virgil’s Cumaean Sibyl, and the ‘fragmentary and widely scattered state’ of her ‘leaves’. Indeed, the entire conference teemed with scattered, flying, volatile and fugitive leaves, and presented a range of approaches and ideas as to their interpretation.
Beginning with Seamus Perry’s keynote on Coleridge’s desultory nature (in terms of both his indolence and his variousness), the conference’s deep consideration of the language we use to discuss this material was incredibly evocative. Various terms were repeatedly mapped out, tested, and explored, but desultory was one to which a number of speakers returned. Likewise, Coleridge’s own play with words was also highlighted, particularly the irony in titling a collection of collected poems ‘Sibylline Leaves’, given that the Sibyll’s own leaves were never collected up again. Here then, the desultory might work as part of a self-conscious, self-reflexive consideration of the fragmented and the various.
Other panels over the two days explicitly engaged with the practices of notebook making and commonplacing, literary processes that my own work on collage also touches upon. Ruth Abbott, for example, presented fascinating work on Wordsworth’s notebooks, stressing the importance of reading such objects as whole, creative documents; whilst stressing the familial and collective nature of their production; and considering transformations of poetry, to prose, and back again.
The conference also had a ‘reading group’ type session in the middle of its first day, where we discussed Michael Gamer’s work on self-collecting in the creation of works like the Sibylline Leaves. Interestingly, Gamer employs frameworks from the history of collecting in his discussion, something I wish to adopt/adapt in my own work on literary self-fashioning and production.
Other papers stressed the materiality of Romantic literary production, from Jeremy Elprin’s wonderfully rich paper on Coleridge’s ‘Sonnet in nubibus’, which highlighted how Coleridge had transcribed the poem on a piece of seaweed, to Deidre Shauna Lynch’s magisterial second-day keynote, ‘Loose Leaves, Floral Slips and the Romantic Book’. Lynch’s keynote was particularly interesting for me as she discussed many of the objects that I have just been looking at at YCBA, and other volumes that I’m intending to see at Manchester, New York, and the Houghton Library in the future. What I was particularly struck by in Lynch’s paper however, was her emphasis on not merely the compilation of such volumes, but their related disentanglement: ranging from the moment of their acquisition (i.e. before their integration within the album/volume/book); ideas surrounding their ‘clippability’; or the potential of these gathered leaves to become loose once more. This was a revolution in my thinking, as my definition for collage in my postdoctoral project has been almost wholly concerned with the coming together of objects to make a new whole; disparate elements, brought together in a new formulation. Yet Lynch’s paper highlighted that these were indeed ‘Sibylline Leaves’, papers that behaved badly, and whose very precarity was actively reflected upon and visually acknowledged by their makers.
I presented my own research on the commonplace books of Ellen Warter at the end of the first day of the conference (my abstract is available here), and received some very provocative and encouraging feedback. I’m excited to use some of the frameworks I encountered at the event in developing this research further, particularly Lynch’s emphasis on the highly self-aware nature of the Romantic album.
My object of the week is this INCREDIBLE Album of Seaweed Pictures from 1848, now held at the Brooklyn Museum. The album was made as a gift for Augustus Graham, a member of the first board of directors of the Brooklyn Apprentice’s Library, later to become the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences and the Brooklyn Museum.
I was really sorry to miss the Beyond Between Men symposium, so I hugely enjoyed reading Rachel E. Moss’s round-up blog post about the event. You can read it here.
The BAVS Talks 2017 videos are now all up online. You can take a look here.
CFP: CAA 2018 – Imperial Islands: Vision and Experience in the American Empire after 1898
Although the CFP deadline for the Home Comforts: The physical and emotional meanings of home in Europe, 1650-1900 conference has now passed, I still wanted to bring attention to this fascinating-sounding conference, which intersects interestingly with my current book project.
The edited volume Feminism and Art History Now: Radical Critiques of Theory and Practice, is out now from I B Tauris, and will be an essential resource for anyone using feminist theory in their art historical writing.
Issue 6 (Summer 2017) of British Art Studies is now live. The special issue focuses on Invention and Imagination in British Art and Architecture, 600–1500, and examines lots of fascinating objects at length and in depth.
Other conferences, CFPs, etc that caught my eye this week included:
- CONF: Re/presenting the Body (Glasgow, 6-7 Jul 17)
- CFP: Jewellery Matters (Amsterdam, 16-17 Nov 17)
- CONF: Film|Bild|Emotion (Regensburg, 20-21 Jul 18)
- CFP: Collecting Medieval Sculpture (Paris, 23-24 Nov 17)
- CONF: Nineteenth-Century Art in Islamic Countries (Vienna, 6-9
- CFP: Temporary and Mobile Domesticities, 1600 to the present – 10.10.2017, London
- CFC: Special Issue of The History of the Family
- CFP: Issue: Material and Visual Cultures of Religion in the American South
Usually following a conference, I write some kind of post-conference report, where I reflect on the conversations and ideas that the conference provoked and discussed. For the recent ISCH conference on ‘Senses, Emotions & the Affective Turn Recent Perspectives and New Challenges in Cultural History’, I want to do something a little different. Instead of the report format, I want to compile a bibliography of texts that I made note of speakers referencing. As I’m currently writing my monograph on the relationship between domestic material culture, sociabilities, and emotions between 1750-1850, this list has already been a hugely useful bibliography for my own research, but I had a sense as I was compiling it, that it might also be of use to a broader audience interested in state of the history of the emotions today.
This by no means represents a complete bibliography, as the conference had many parallel sessions, and I was only able to attend two days, but it will hopefully give a sense of some of the scholarship that presenters were using to construct their paper’s critical frameworks, and thereby a sense of how the history of the emotions is ‘being done’ at this present moment.
Panel ‘Emotions in Research’
- Emily Robinson, ‘Touching the void: Affective history and the impossible’, The Journal of Theory and Practice, 14:4 (2010), 503-520.
- Carolyn Steedman, Landscape for a Good Woman (Rutgers University Press, 1987)
- Joan W. Scott, ‘The Evidence of Experience’, Critical Inquiry, 17:4 (Summer, 1991), 773-797.
- Andy Wood, The memory of the people: custom and popular senses of the past in early modern England (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013)
Erin Sullivan, ‘Art and the Emotional Historian’
Firstly, some relevant publications by Sullivan:
- Beyond Melancholy: Sadness and Selfhood in Renaissance England (Oxford University Press, 2016)
- (edited, with Richard Meek) The Renaissance of Emotion: Understanding Affect in Early Modern Literature and Culture (Manchester University Press, 2015)
- (with Susan Brock and Greg Wells) ‘The Melancholy Earl: Sir William Herbert in the Medical Cases Notes of Dr Barker of Shrewsbury’, Notes and Queries 63:4 (2016)
- ‘Melancholy’, in Early Modern Emotions: An Introduction, ed. Susan Broomhall (Routledge, 2017)
- ‘Shakespeare and Emotion: A Review Essay’, in Cahiers Élisabéthains 87 (2015)
- ‘The History of the Emotions: Past, Present, Future’, Cultural History 2:1 (2013)
- ‘”The Watchful Spirit”: Religious Anxieties toward Sleep in the Notebooks of Nehemiah Wallington’, Cultural History 1:1 (2012) – winner of the 2011 International Society for Cultural History Essay Prize
- ‘A Disease unto Death: Sadness in the Time of Shakespeare’, in Emotions and Health, 1200-1700, ed. by Elena Carrera, Brill (Brill, 2013)
- Peter Burke, ‘Is there a Cultural History of the Emotions?’ in Penelope Gouk and Helen Hills (eds.), Representing Emotions (Aldershot, 2005)
- William M. Reddy, The Making of Romantic Love: Longing and Sexuality in Europe, South Asia, and Japan, 900-1200 CE. (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2012)
- Thomas Dixon, Weeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears (Oxford University Press, 2015)
- Johan Huizinga, The Waning of the Middle Ages (1919)
- Reddy, William M. “Against Constructionism: The Historical Ethnography of Emotions.” Current Anthropology 38 (1997), 327-351.
- Rosenwein, Barbara H. “Worrying about Emotions in History.” The American Historical Review (2002).
- Peter N. Stearns and Carol Z. Stearns, ‘Emotionology: Clarifying the History of Emotions and Emotional Standards’, The American Historical Review, 90:4 (October, 1985), 813-836.
- Keith Oatley, Emotions: A Brief History (Wiley, 2004)
- Stephanie Trigg, Shame and Honor: A Vulgar History of the Order of the Garter (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012)
- Melissa Greg, The Affect Theory Reader (Duke University Press, 2010)
- Susan J. Matt, Peter N. Stearns, Doing Emotions History (University of Illinois Press, 2013)
Panel ‘Materialising Love and Loss: Objects and Identity in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Britain’
- Marcia Pointon, ‘”Surrounded with Brilliants”: Miniature Portraits in Eighteenth-Century England, The Art Bulletin, 83:1 (March, 2001), 48-71
- Annette Weiner, Inalienable Possessions: The Paradox of Keeping-While-Giving (1992)
- Anna Moran, Sorcha O’Brien, Love Objects: Emotion, Design and Material Culture (Bloomsbury, 2014)
- Diana O’hara, ‘The Language of Tokens and the Making of Marriage’, Rural History, 3:1 (1992), 1-40
- Diana O’hara, Courtship and constraint: Rethinking the making of marriage in Tudor England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002)
- Neil McKendrick, John Brewer, John Harold Plumb, The birth of a consumer society: the commercialization of eighteenth-century England (Europa Publications, 1982)
- John Brewer and Roy Porter, eds. Consumption and the World of Goods (Routledge, 1993)
- Anne Gerritsen, Giorgio Riello, eds. The Global Lives of Things: The Material Culture of Connections in the Early Modern World (Routledge, 2015)
- Cynthia Wall, The Prose of Things: Transformations of Description in the Eighteenth Century (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2006)
- Frank Trentmann, Empire of Things: How We Became a World of Consumers, Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-First, (London: Allen Lane/Penguin; New York: HarperCollins 2016)
- Michael Brown, ‘Cold Steel, Weak Flesh’: Mechanism, Masculinity and the Anxieties of Late Victorian Empire’, CULTURAL & SOCIAL HISTORY, 14: 2 (2017)
- Michael Brown, ‘Surgery and Emotion: The Era Before Anaesthesia’, The Palgrave Handbook of the History of Surgery. T. Schlich ed. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)
- Matthew McCormack, Embodying the Militia in Georgian England (Oxford University Press, 2015)
- Sarah Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion (Routledge, 2007)
- Philip Shaw, Suffering and Sentiment in Romantic Military Art (Ashgate, 2013)
- Holly Furneaux, and Prichard, S. ‘Contested objects: curating soldier art. Museum & Society 13:4 (2015), 447-461.
- Holly Furneaux, Military men of feeling: masculinity, emotion and tactility in the Crimean War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015)
Barbara H. Rosenwein, ‘Affect Theory’s Convergences and Conundrums’
Relevant publications by Rosenwein:
- Anger’s Past: The Social Uses of an Emotion in the Middle Ages (Cornell University Press, 1998)
- Emotional Communities in the Early Middle Ages (Cornell University Press, 2006)
- Generations of Feeling: A History of Emotions 600-1700 (Cambridge University Press, 2016)
- “Problems and Methods in the History of Emotions,” Passions in Context: Journal of the History and Philosophy of the Emotions, 1:1 (2010)
- Lisa Feldman Barrett, How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain (Pan Macmillan, 2017)
- Magda Arnold, Emotion and personality (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960)
- Bruce R. Smith, The Key of Green: PASSION AND PERCEPTION IN RENAISSANCE CULTURE (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008)
- Brian Massumi, Politics of Affect (John Wiley & Sons, 2015)
- Nicole Eustace, Passion Is the Gale: Emotion, Power, and the Coming of the American Revolution (UNC Press Books, 2012)
- Nicole Eustace, 1812: War and the Passions of Patriotism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012)
Panel: The affective turn in the history of the East-West encounter
- Elsbeth Locher-Scholten, Women and the Colonial State: Essays on Gender and Modernity in the Netherlands Indies, 1900-1942 (Amsterdam University Press, 2000)
- Kartini (Raden Adjeng), Kartini: The Complete Writings 1898-1904 (Monash University Publishing, 2014)
Panel: Motherhood, medicine and the emotions
- Laura Gowing, Common bodies : women, touch and power in seventeenth-century England (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2002)
- Laura Gowing, Gender Relations in Early Modern England (Pearson Longman, 2012)
- Adrian Wilson, ‘THE PERILS OF EARLY MODERN PROCREATION: CHILDBIRTH WITH OR WITHOUT FEAR?’ Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 16 (1993), 1–19
On Friday I’m heading to the Slavery and the Scottish Country House event, a day workshop examining the connections between Scotland and slavery through the medium of the Scottish country house, hosted by the Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies at the University of Edinburgh. The programme is available here, and I’ll be sure to post a follow up blog on some of the conversations that arose from the conference.