I’m excited to be presenting my paper ‘Publishing Wilkes’s ‘Villakin’: Reading, Reception and Reputation at Sandown Cottage’ at the forthcoming Reading the Country House conference, to be held at MMU in November. The conference focuses on the ways in which the country house was ‘made to be read’, whether through the legibility of their decorative schemes or their description in published materials. My abstract for the conference is included below.
Publishing Wilkes’s ‘Villakin’: Reading, Reception and Reputation at Sandown Cottage
This paper unpacks a complex episode in the relationship between interior decoration, travel writing, and identity formation in late eighteenth-century Britain. Examining John Wilkes’s summer residence Sandown Cottage (commonly known as ‘Villakin’) on the Isle of Wight, it provides an unprecedented consideration of the aesthetic programme of Wilkes’s country home and its role in constructing and reflecting its owner’s multifarious identities. Focusing on published accounts of Sandown Cottage, it situates descriptions of Wilkes’s home within the contexts of taste, sociability, and domestic tourism, highlighting the centrality of visual and material culture within these texts. Describing the residence as fitted up ‘with every regard and attention to elegance,’ such accounts consistently related the house’s ornamentation to Wilkes’s becoming personal qualities. This paper will accordingly consider how the publication and circulation of Sandown Cottage’s collections and decoration in contemporary travel writing functioned as a kind of reputation management; neutralising Wilkes’s radical politics and instead facilitating his self-presentation as a consummately refined host and tasteful art collector. Discussing a broad variety of visual and material culture and its representation, the paper challenges divisions between the fine and decorative arts, interior and exterior spaces, and between the material object and the written word more broadly.
I’m currently in London for the Association for Art History’s 2018 Annual Conference, which is being held between the Courtauld Institute and King’s College London from tomorrow until Saturday. As ever, I’m struggling to whittle down the panels I want to go to, so I thought I’d post my long list of recommendations for sessions. Also, if you’re at the conference, come and say hi!
Thursday 5th April, 2018:
Contemporary Art Histories
Convened by Sam Rose and Emalee Beddoes, this panel promises a fascinating examination of both the role of contemporary art in writing art history, and what contemporary art histories look like. This particularly appeals to me due to a couple of case studies for my collage project, which actively use modern/postmodern art historical ideas to rethink the art of the past. Highlights from this session include papers on Giotto and Kauffman through a contemporary lens.
HIV in Visual Culture: Looking to interdisiplinary approaches & global histories
Neil MacDonald and Jackson Davidow’s session HIV in Visual Culture, provides a transnational, institutional history of the artistic and cultural production associated with the pandemic. I’m particularly keen to hear the papers dealing with HIV/AIDS in the archive.
Mechthild Fend and Anne Lafont’s panel, Textility, is probably the one I’ll go to tomorrow. Dealing with the relatively new theoretical framework of ‘textility’, the session examines the technologies of textiles, intersections with other art forms, and hierarchies. Highlights include Marcia Pointon’s paper (Marcia Pointon is always a highlight, tbh), copper smithing, and lamé.
Friday 6th April, 2018
Beyond Disciplinary Boundaries: History of Science and History of Art
This roundtable, hosted by Katy Barrett, Sachiko Kusukawa, Alexander Marr, Sietske Fransen, Katherine Reinhart, and Joanna Woodall comes out of the AHRC-funded project, ‘Making Visible: the visual and graphic practices of the early Royal Society’. The session abstract talks about the specific relevance of such an interdisciplinary approach for the early modern period, particularly in terms of histories of collecting. This should be a really fascinating discussion.
Dialogues: Things and their collectors
Nicole Cochrane, Lizzie Rogers, & Charlotte Johnson’s panel, Dialogues: Things and their collectors, is where you’re likely to find me on Friday. I couldn’t be more excited for all the mourning, ruins, and ceramics.
Saturday 7th April, 2018
Dangerous Portraits in the Early Modern World
Jennifer Germann and Melissa Percival’s session on dangerous portraits promises a fascinating reassessment of the genre. Topics include radical, mutinous, painful, and colonial portraiture.
Seeing and Hearing the ‘Beyond’: Art, music and mysticism in the Long 19th Century
My second pick for Saturday is Michelle Foot and Corrinne Chong’s panel, on the interrelationship between art, music, and mysticism between 1789 and 1918. Crossing artistic, disciplinary, and geographical boundaries, the papers ask what testing these distinctions might tell us about nineteenth-century spiritualism.
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)
I’m excited to be chairing a panel on ‘The Power of Objects’ at the upcoming War Through Other Stuff conference, which brings together interdisciplinary perspectives on war as told through non-military narratives, artistic interpretations, and the material culture of conflict. The programme and further information about the conference is available here.
Happy New Year to all my readers. 2017 promises to be an exciting year, but I’ll talk more about that in Wednesday’s post. For now, here’s a roundup of everything that caught my attention in the final week of 2016.
First up, these Summer 2017 internships with the Boston Furniture Archive, which sound like a fantastic opportunity to do some hands-on collection based work.
Next, the Centre for the History of the Emotions’ 2016 Annual Lecture by Professor Stephen Brooke (University of York, CA). Titled ‘Hate and Fear: Emotion, Politics and Race in 1980s London’, the lecture is now on the centre’s youtube channel.
The Bard Graduate Center’ forthcoming Summer Institute American Material Culture: Nineteenth-Century New York (July 3–28, 2017), also caught my eye. Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute promises a in-depth look at the history of New York and its associated material culture.
Prompted by Karen Kelsky’s excellent recent Vitae blog ‘The Job Market in a New Administration’, I also read Ellen Willis’s essay ‘Identity Crisis‘ for the first time this month. As issues of identity are at the forefront of this changing political landscape, prolonged considerations of the meaning and manifestations of identity have never been more important. Willis’s essay, though written in 1992, is incredibly relevant for the current academic and political climate.
The following conferences, CFAs and CFPs also sound particularly interesting (with many touching on issues of identity that are so relevant to Willis’s essay):
- CFP/Manuscripts: Special Issue of Journal of Homosexuality, “LGBTQ Popular Culture: The Changing Landscape”
- CFP: #QueerAF: (Re)presenting Gender & Sexuality in History & Cultural Studies
- CFP: 2017 Midwest Art History Society Session: “Is there an African Atlantic?“
- CONF: Politics in fashion and textiles (Vienna, 19-21 Jan 17)
- CFP: Conflict, Healing and the Arts (Durham, 27 May 17)
- CFP: The Coarseness of the Brontës: A Reappraisal (Durham, 10-11 Aug 17)
- CFP: Material and Sensory Cultures of Religion
- CFP: Material Culture Research Symposium (Glasgow, 12 June 17)
- CFP: American Identities on Land and at Sea (New York, 21 Apr 17)
My final pick is the CFP for the multidisciplinary collection Colonial Caribbean Visual Cultures, which examines ‘the creation and circulation of colonial visual cultures from the Caribbean during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’. The CFP reminded me of another recent publication, The Colour of Shadows: Images of Caribbean Slavery by Judy Raymond. I’m excited to read each of them.
I was thrilled to find out that I’ll be presenting my paper ‘A literary inheritance: Romantic family histories and textual afterlives in the commonplace books of Ellen Warter’ at next year’s Sibylline Leaves: Chaos and Compilation in the Romantic Period conference. This exciting conference brings together a number of fascinating approaches to Romantic cultural and material practices, and focuses on ‘the composition, publication and reception of romantic poetry in relation to a diverse range of collections and composite texts: miscellanies, anthologies and beauties, multi-volume or serialised fiction, magazines and newspapers, annuals and albums, common-place books and notebooks, catalogues and guidebooks, encyclopaedias and dictionaries.’ My abstract for the conference is included below.
A literary inheritance: Romantic family histories and textual afterlives in the commonplace books of Ellen Warter, Freya Gowrley (University of Edinburgh)
This paper will focus on 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. Though at first glance the volumes denote Warter’s participation in the rather usual Victorian practice of album production, sustained attention to the books and their compiled contents suggests their deeper significance for studies of nineteenth-century literary culture. More than the sum of their parts, Warter’s commonplace books are not only a collection of individual details and textual clippings, but also evoke the broader contexts of authorship, celebrity, and collaboration.
Warter’s commonplace books are quite unlike ‘conventional’ examples of the genre, which traditionally compile excerpted texts from a broad array of writers on a variety of topics. Instead, 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.
Employing the framework of the object biography, the paper will consider Warter’s commonplace books in terms of literary assemblage, tracing the volumes’ constitutive elements as they passed from one literary form into the next. At the same time, the paper will demonstrate how the books were inherently biographical objects, redolent with potent familial association, both of Warter’s own family, and that of the Brontës. The paper will accordingly situate Warter’s commonplace books in relation to both contemporary examples of ‘Brontëana’ and the broader album production of the Southey family and social circle. In so doing, it will highlight the importance of composite works to collective Romantic literary production, as well as their enduring legacy in the late-nineteenth century, thereby troubling traditional divisions between the Romantic and Victorian literary traditions, and demonstrating the disruptive nature of periodization.
Sarah Forbes Bonetta (Sarah Davies) by Camille Silvy. Albumen print, 15 September 1862
3 1/4 in. x 2 1/4 in. (83 mm x 56 mm), National Portrait Gallery, London.
My object of the week is this albumen portrait of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, which was used to illustrate the National Portrait Gallery’s event In Conversation: Portraits of the Past: Researching Black Lives in the Archives. Dr Caroline Bressey and Dr Gemma Romain will discuss their experiences of researching images of black lives in archives, before reflecting upon the position of black historical research in Britain today.
This week, Goldsmiths, University of London announced that is was launching the world’s first postgraduate degree in Queer History, beginning in 2017. Perhaps even more excitingly for those of us working on queer culture, the university is also in discussions about the creation of a National Queer Archive.
I was excited to read about the Public Domain Review’s new Conjectures Series, a forum for ‘experiments with historical form and method’. Just like Storying the Past before it, such vehicles provoke important reflection on the discipline of history and what we as historians ‘do’. The first post in the series is Easter McCraney’s discussion of longing and the objects of history, which the editor describes as a ‘history poem’.
Also from the Public Domain Review, Ryan Feigenbaum’s essay Visions of Algae in Eighteenth-Century Botany provides a compelling consideration of the cultural import of a single species of algae: Conferva fontinalis.
I greatly enjoyed reading the fascinating special issue of the open access Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide: A Journal of Nineteenth-Century Visual Culture (15:2), on The Greek Slave by Hiram Powers: A Transatlantic Object, edited by Martina Droth & Michael Hatt. The issue discusses Powers’s sculpture in unparalleled detail, while simultaneously locating it within a number of its cultural contexts, thereby skilfully interweaving the sculpture’s micro and macro histories. I was also excited to see the CFP for the next issue of MDCCC 1800 – the international online journal of nineteenth-century culture – on the ‘Arts on display: the 19th century international expositions‘. Each of these ventures serve to emphasise just how exciting publishing on nineteenth-century art is at the moment.
Other CFPs, conferences, journal special issues and articles that caught my eye this week included:
The CFP for the Heritages of Migration: Moving Stories, Objects and Home conference.
The programme for the Paul Mellon Centre’s upcoming conference Art in the British Country House: Collecting and Display.
The Auricular Style: Frames conference, which brings together research in fine & decorative art histories in order to shed light on the neglected Auricular style. The conference programme is available here.
The CFP for the Refiguring Romanticisms: Cross-Temporal Translations and Gothic Transgressions seminar.
The CFP for a forthcoming special issue of Eighteenth-Century Studies on ‘Empires’.
The William Wordsworth: Poetry, People and Place MOOC, run by Lancaster University in collaboration with Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s home between 1799 to 1808.
The Storify for BAVS 2016 conference, Consuming (the) Victorians.