Week in Review – October 23

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A roundup of CFPs, articles, papers, and postings that caught my attention this week:


Spectropia; or, Surprising Spectral Illusions (1865)

I’m ashamed to admit I’ve only recently come across The Public Domain Review Project, an ‘online journal and not-for-profit project dedicated to the exploration of curious and compelling works from the history of art, literature, and ideas’. I particularly enjoyed this recent and seasonally-appropriate post highlighting the wonders of Victorian ‘afterimages’ from the text Spectropia; or, Surprising Spectral Illusions (1865).

The Centre for Imperial and Global History (University of Exeter)’s podcast series, Talking Empire.

This CFP for Unpacking Tourism, a forthcoming special issue of Radical History Review.

This CFP for the University of Edinburgh-based, interdisciplinary conference on Antiquity and the History of Ideas in Eighteenth-Century Europe.

I’m really excited for Notches Blog’s forthcoming series on the history of venereal disease. See the CFP here.

I noticed a number of CFPs for conferences examining concepts of ownership, luxury, and value, this week. See the CFP for The Material Culture of Ownership (Newark, 22-23 Apr 16), that for Nouveau Reach. Past, Present and Future of Luxury, and finally, the CFP for Priceless: The Value of the Invaluable (London, 14 – 15 Jul 16).

The online project Letters of Artisans and the Labouring Poor which will digitise a cache of letters written by the labouring poor in the British Isles during the late eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries.

The programmes for two excellent research seminar series. The first is the National Maritime Museum’s Maritime History and Culture Seminars (held in conjunction with the IHR, programme here). Note Felix Driver’s ‘Material Memories of Travel: The Albums of a Victorian Naval Surgeon’. The second is the University of Edinburgh’s Scottish History Seminars, the programme for which is available here.

This conference on Collecting and Empires (Florenz, 5-7 Nov 15).

This CFP for The role of sculpture in the design, production collecting and display
of Parisian decorative arts in Europe (1715-1815).

Finally, a reminder that the submission deadlines for the University of Edinburgh’s Eighteenth-Century Research Seminars (ECRS) and the AAH 2016 panel, The (After) Lives of Things, are due November 2 and November 9, respectively.


CFP: Eighteenth-Century Research Seminar Series (ECRS)

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I’m delighted to be co-convening the University of Edinburgh’s Eighteenth-Century Research Seminar Series (ECRS). See the Call for Papers below:

CFP: Eighteenth-Century Research Seminars Series 2016 (University of Edinburgh)

The Eighteenth-Century Research Seminars (ECRS) series invites proposals for twenty-minute papers from postgraduate and early-career researchers addressing any aspect of eighteenth-century history, culture, literature, education, art, music, geography, religion, science, and philosophy.

The seminar series seeks to provide a regular inter-disciplinary forum for postgraduate and early-career researchers working on the eighteenth century to meet and discuss their research. The ECRS will take place at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) in Edinburgh on a monthly basis from January to May 2015. Each seminar will consist of two papers, one from a University of Edinburgh-based researcher and one from a researcher based in another higher education institution, followed by a drinks reception. Non-University of Edinburgh speakers’ travel expenses will be reimbursed up to £100. Abstracts of up to 300 words along with a brief biography and institutional affiliation should be submitted in the body of an email to: edinburgh18thcentury@gmail.com

The closing date for submissions is Monday 2 November 2015.

The ECRS is supported by the University of Edinburgh’s Researcher-Led Initiative Fund.

For more information, see the website http://edinburgh18thcentury.weebly.com/ as well as our twitter account @ECRS_Edinburgh.

Week in Review – October 16

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A roundup of CFPs, conferences, articles, job listings and seminar series that have caught my eye in the last (few) week(s).

As always, the Bard Graduate Center’s Seminar Series for the Autumn/Winter term looks fantastic. See here for details. You can also catch up on the seminars on the Bard’s youtube channel. My recommendations include this recent lecture by Anne Higonnet on ‘A Digital Enlightenment: Experiments in the Teaching of 18th-Century Decorative Arts‘ (also embedded above).

Christine Guth’s chapter on ‘Layering: materiality, time, and touch in Japanese Lacquer‘ in Surface Tensions: Surface, Finish and the Meaning of Objects, is an interesting meditation on materiality.

This CFP for a special issue of European Journal of American Studies – ‘Re-Queering the Nation: America’s Queer Crisis‘.

The new issue of Design and Culture. Includes articles on ‘Circulation: A Theoretical Toolkit’ (Basile Zimmermann & Nicolas Nova) and ‘Exphrasis: Verbalizing Unexisting Objects in the World of Design’ (Jonathan Ventura & Gal Ventura).

This CFP for the Word, Image, and Power in Africa and the African Diaspora Conference (New York, 1-2 April 2016).

Lilith: A Feminist History Journal is interested in publishing short historiographical and methodological pieces for its 2016 issue. See the CFP here.

The programme for the ‘Art History 40: Image and Memory – 40 Years of Art-Historical Writing‘ Conference.

The Artist and Empire: New Dynamics Conference – which ‘will consider art created under the conditions of the British Empire, its aftermath, and its future in museum and gallery displays’ looks fantastic.

This CFC for ‘Empires, Beliefs, Emotions: Cross-Cultural Affective Histories (1400-1900)’ a forthcoming special issue of the OA journal CROMOHS.

This symposium on American Material and Visual Culture of the “Long” Nineteenth Century, which welcomes submissions that engage with ‘the materiality of images and the visuality of objects while addressing their interrelationship’.

The CFP for our Eighteenth-Century Research Seminars Series, which will be held in the University of Edinburgh in 2016.

The programme for the “Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds” Mellon Research Initiative Symposium.

CFP for the Connected Histories, Mirrored Empires British and French Imperialism – 17th to 20th Centuries Conference

The conference on Reconsidering the Rococo (Lausanne, 5-6 Nov 15).

And finally Russell Jacoby’s article ‘The Object as a Subject‘ is a witty and thought provoking meditation on the current state of material culture studies.

Difficult Women Conference Programme

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Click the link below for the programme for the upcoming Difficult Women conference, and see the organiser’s site for more details.

Difficult Women – Conference Schedule

Archive Materials Programme

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On Wednesday (7th October) I’ll be presenting a paper at the Archive Materials research symposium. I’ll be talking about my research on A la Ronde and Plas Newydd in the context of the archive and writing feminist art histories. For more information see the project’s blog and the programme below.



Archive Materials: Feminism, Performance and Art History in the UK

Wednesday 7th October 2015, 1.30 – 6pm

Saunders Room, School of Art History, University of St Andrews

1.30 – 1.40pm Introduction

Victoria Horne and Catherine Spencer

1.40 – 2.00pm Freya Gowrley (University of Edinburgh)

2.00 – 2.20pm Kerri Offord (Watts Gallery)

2.20 – 2.50pm Discussion

2.50 – 3.10pm Coffee break

3.10 – 3.30pm Georgia Horgan

3.30 – 3.50pm Rachel Smith (University of York)

3.50 – 4.20pm Discussion

4.20 – 4.30pm Break with coffee refill

4.30 – 5.00pm Hilary Robinson (Middlesex University London)

5.00 – 6.00pm Discussion and roundtable

Oriana Fox Screening

6.00 – 6.30pm Wine reception

6.30pm Speaker dinner

Week in Review: August 28

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This article examining the material culture of abandoned psychiatric institutions: ‘Abandoned Suitcases Reveal Private Lives of Insane Asylum Patients‘.

This oral history project: ‘A Hackney Autobiography‘.

This blog post on first-world-war period sexuality by Lesley Hulonce: ‘A ‘Hotbed of Immorality’? World War One and Sexual Panic

New details for the Association of Art Historians’ textbook, Thinking About Art History.

This CFP on ‘Colonial Entanglements in the Production of Knowledge‘.

This event at the Black Cultural Archives: ‘Past Reflections: African History in England‘.

This series of podcasts examining Women, Gender, and Sex in the Ottoman World.

This CFP for Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies on ‘Life Writing as Empathy

New book on ‘Concepts of Value in European Material Culture, 1500–1900

The People’s Conclusion to #VoxPop2015.

Ushashi Dasgupta’s article on ‘voices from below’ in literary Victorian studies.

Storying the Past, a virtual reading group project ‘devoted to creative and innovative approaches to writing history’.

This exciting book – New Paths to Public Histories.

Difficult Women in the Long Eighteenth Century, 1680-1830

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I’m thrilled that I will be presenting my research on Anna Seward and poetic forms of gift exchange at the Difficult Women in the Long Eighteenth Century, 1680-1830 conference in November (University of York, 27-28 November, 2015 – further details can be found here).

I’ve included my abstract below, and will share a full copy of the conference programme once announced. Below is Sarah Ponsonby’s frontispiece to Anna Seward’s volume of poetry Llangollen Vale, with Other Poems (1796), the dissemination of which forms the subject of my paper.


Sarah Ponsonby, Frontispiece for Anna Seward,

Llangollen Vale, with Other Poems, published by G. Sael, London, 1796.

‘Pledges of an highly-prized friendship’: Anna Seward and the poetics of exchange[1]

This paper will focus on the production, dissemination, and publication of Anna Seward’s 1796 work Llangollen Vale, with Other Poems in relation to the ‘Romantic friendship’ cultivated between Seward and her numerous friends and correspondents. It will argue that the exchange of this collected volume of poetry testifies both to the genre’s affective nature as well as the complex material and social processes exemplified by contemporary gift exchange.

Comprising nine poems written by Seward and a prefatory sonnet by her friend, the Rev. Henry Francis Cary (1772-1844), the majority of the volume’s constituent poems were written whilst Seward was visiting the residences of, or places associated with, her intimates, and accordingly the volume is characterised by the sentimental nature of its inclusions. This affective function is demonstrated particularly by the volume’s titular poem Llangollen Vale, which eulogises Seward’s relationship with her close friends, Lady Eleanor Butler (1739-1829) and Sarah Ponsonby (1755-1831), the so-called ‘Ladies of Llangollen.’

Specifically, the paper will consider how Llangollen Vale both constructed and reflected Seward’s prolonged acquaintance with Butler and Ponsonby, two women who had eschewed marriage by eloping from Ireland in order to live together in rural Wales, and whose queer reclusion mirrored Seward’s own ‘romantic friendship’ with her adopted sister Honora Sneyd (1751-1780). Having visited Butler and Ponsonby in their home Plas Newydd in 1795, Seward established a consistent epistolary communication with the women, marked by the exchange of objects, ideas, and sentiments, and in which poetry – in both its literary and material forms – was central. Whilst the term ‘romantic friendship’ has been dismissed by queer theorists for its sanitisation of potential lesbian interaction, this paper reclaims the expression, instead expounding the notion of ‘Romantic friendship’, to denote the cultivation of a creative and productive community between Plas Newydd and Seward’s home in Lichfield, characterised by the emotional attachment and intellectual pursuits of its participants. It will argue that this ‘Romantic friendship’ was primarily enacted through the exchange of poetic productions and gifted objects, which in the absence of their senders, functioned as agents of sentiment and respect, whilst simultaneously generating a dynamic literary and material Romantic culture centred amongst the women.

Embracing narratives of circulation, transcription, and commemoration, this paper will therefore argue that the exchange of Llangollen Vale, with Other Poems was a complex literary and affective transaction. As suggested by the creative and material responses to this gifted poem, its dissemination was part of a reciprocal poetics of exchange – not merely a literary act, but a social one that cultivated an intellectual, sentimental, and material network of decidedly Romantic friendship between the women.

[1] A. Seward, Letters of Anna Seward: Written Between the Years 1784 and 1807, 6 vols. (Edinburgh: George Ramsay & Co. 1811), Vol. 4, p. 131.