eighteenth century

Absent Presences at Strawberry Hill – thoughts from the Lewis Walpole Library

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It’s the first day of my two-week research visit to the Lewis Walpole Library, and I’ve just finished looking through the anonymous volume Rarities from Strawberry Hill, made sometime around the 1890s. The volume (essentially a scrapbook) once brought together letters from Walpole’s voluminous correspondence, printed portraits, clippings, playbills, bookplates (including the above example, Anne Damer’s, based on a design by her close friend Agnes Berry) a lock of hair, and even two miniature portraits, who are conspicuous in their absence from the volume, leaving two holes where they were once fitted (pictured below). Along with a number of other objects from the book – including various letters and the aforementioned lock of hair – the miniatures have been removed and preserved elsewhere: in the case of miniatures, these are now on display at Strawberry Hill itself, where they now tell a different narrative in a different setting.

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This dialogue of absence and presence, and how these states intersect with how we construct the history of the eighteenth century, reminded me of an earlier post I made here, regarding Strawberry Hill itself. When visiting the house last Summer, I bemoaned the absence of any kind of narrative regarding Walpole’s queerness, despite the prevalence of this within scholarship on Walpole and his friendships. I hope that the chapter I’m researching here (on Anne Damer’s inheritance of Strawberry Hill and queer heirlooming) at the Lewis Walpole Library can meaningfully contribute to these conversations, revealing some of those things that are sorely absent from the scholarship on Walpole.

ECRS – 12 April

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Please join us for the next session of this year‘s Eighteenth-Century Research Seminar series at the University of Edinburgh. The session will present new work on eighteenth-century material culture and will feature Hannah Lund (University of Edinburgh) whose presentation is titled ‘Enthroned: The Sitter’s Chair of Sir Joshua Reynolds 1760-1879’, and Suchitra Choudhury (University of Glasgow), on ‘Fashion and Textiles: A Postcolonial Reading of Sir Walter Scott’.

All welcome. Seminars are held at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, from 4:30-6pm, and are followed by a drinks reception. 

You can also follow the series on its twitter account @ECRS_Edinburgh. We’ll be live-tweeting the papers from that handle.

ECRS – 22 March

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Please join us for the next session of this year‘s Eighteenth-Century Research Seminar series at the University of Edinburgh. The session will present new work on gender and food studies and will feature Catherine Ellis (Durham University) 0n ‘How to understand the sex worker at the table: gastrocritical approaches to eighteenth-century French prostitution’, andJessica Hamel-Akré (University of Montreal), whose paper is entitled ‘“Oh, when shall I be holy?”: Reading and Writing Women’s Eighteenth-Century Self-Starvation’.

All welcome. Seminars are held at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, from 4:30-6pm, and are followed by a drinks reception. 

You can also follow the series on its twitter account @ECRS_Edinburgh. We’ll be live-tweeting the papers from that handle.

ECRS – 15 March

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Please join us for the next session of this year‘s Eighteenth-Century Research Seminar series at the University of Edinburgh. The session will present new work on Enlightenment Europe, and will feature William Swain (University of Edinburgh), who will be speaking on ‘Adam Ferguson, Freidrich von Gentz, and the decline of the Martial Spirit’, and John Stone (Universitat de Barcelona), whose paper is entitled ‘The Cultural Work of the Royal Scots College (Valladolid), 1770-1808: Cosmopolitanism, Diaspora, the ‘National Feeling’ and Library Formation’.

All welcome. Seminars are held at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, from 4:30-6pm, and are followed by a drinks reception. 

You can also follow the series on its twitter account @ECRS_Edinburgh. We’ll be live-tweeting the papers from that handle.

Award – Huntington Library Short Term Fellowship

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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.

ECRS – 1 March

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Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 20.47.18Please join us for the next session of this year‘s Eighteenth-Century Research Seminar series at the University of Edinburgh. The session will present new work on eighteenth-century music, and will feature Elizabeth Ford (University of Glasgow ), who will be speaking on ‘“I can think of nothing but that flute”: General John Reid (1721-1807)’, and Alice Little (University of Oxford), whose paper is entitled ‘Categorising ‘national music’ in eighteenth-century Oxford’.

All welcome. Seminars are held at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, from 4:30-6pm, and are followed by a drinks reception. 

You can also follow the series on its twitter account @ECRS_Edinburgh. We’ll be live-tweeting the papers from that handle.

Week in Review – 19 February

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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)