gender history

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.

Week in Review – 26 February

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Victorian hand calling card, private collection.

A slightly belated Week in Review post.

As I’ve noted before, Notches and the Age of Revolutions blogs are amongst my favourite academic blogs, and both present really interesting work in their respective fields. Of late, I particularly enjoyed Notches’ ‘Femme Histories Roundtable‘ series (parts I and II), as well as this amazing post on ‘Disembodied Desire‘, focusing on disembodied Victorian limbs, as seen in the above calling card.

In case you missed me excitedly sharing this on Twitter and Facebook, here’s a Hyperallergic article on Sotheby’s first-ever auction of erotic artworks. I was particularly enamoured with this incredible painted plywood table, a copy after those supposedly held in a secret erotic salon of Catherine the Great. For this and many other fascinating objects check out the auction catalogue.

I hugely enjoyed this article on the history of the colour red from The Paris Review, and was fascinated by this touching article on the epistolary correspondence of two men during the Second World War.

I was keen to watch this webinar on ‘Exploring the Africana Historic Postcard Collection‘, which discusses the African Section of the Library of Congress’ African and Middle Eastern Division’s collection of more than 2000 historical photographic postcards. The collection is an important visual record of Africa and its people during the historically intensive years of European colonialism from 1895 to 1960.

I also really enjoyed Pat Thomson’s thought-provoking post on developing institutional writing cultures. Thomson writes compellingly about the need for rebuilding such collective practices, which is something that strongly rings true for me as a participant in an academic writing group. Thomson’s post was written a few days before my fellow writing-group attendee Lucie Whitmore wrote a post on our writing group for the SGSAH Blog, and they had a lovely synchronicity in my mind. I’m also going to write an update post on my own progress with the writing group at some point soon, so watch this space.

Publications wise, the table of contents for the first issue of the Journal for Art Market Studies (Vol 1, No 1 (2017)), also caught my attention this week, as did this call for book proposals on Gender and Culture in the Romantic EraI was also really excited to see that Joanna Cohen’s book Luxurious Citizens: The Politics of Consumption in Nineteenth-Century America has now been published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. I’m sure this book will become an essential text for me as I expand my research to look at nineteenth-century American material culture.

 The following CFPs and conferences also caught my eye:

CFP: Consuming Gender, Assuming Gender one-day symposium (14 July 2017, Cardiff University)

CFP: Decor and Architecture (Lausanne, 16-17 Nov 17)

CFPFrench and English Rivalries in Dress and Textiles 1700-1914 (Paris, October 13-14, 2017)

CFP: “Emotions, Death and Dying” -PJHS (Winter 2017)

CFP: Queering the Transpacific: Asian American, American and Asian Queer Studies (March 31, 2017)

Finally, I noted with interest that there a number of vacancies on the Design History Society’s Board of Trustees, applications are due by mid-March.

Week in Review – 22 January

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A number of institutions are seeking to preserve the material culture and oral history of last week’s Women’s Marches: the Bishopsgate Institute (London) are collecting placards, signs, and posters made as part of the event, while History Workshop Journal issued a call for contributions for reflections from those who attended.

The following journals, CFPs, and events also caught my eye:

TOC: ABE Journal – Architecture Beyond Europe, Issue 9-10, 2016

Lent term Things that Matter programme

Workshop African Americans and the Making of Early New England

GSA Seminar: Feminist Scholar-Activism and the Politics of Affect

York Summer Theory Institute in Art History 2017

CFA: NEH Summer Institute: Beyond East and West: Exchanges and Interactions across the Early Modern World (1400-1800)

CFP: Journal18 – Coordinates (Spring 2018)

CONF: Early Modern Viewers and Buildings in Motion (Durham, 25 Feb 2017)

CFP: Queer Modernism(s)

CFP: Evidence of Feeling: Law, Science and Emotions in Modern Europe

CFP: Women’s and Gender History Symposium (Urbana-Champaign)

I also enjoyed Will Pooley’s postWrite regularly‘, which provided both interesting reflection on, and practical responses to, this oft-heard advice.

Finally, check out Charlotte Mathieson’s fascinating review of the Victorians Decoded: Art and Telegraphy exhibition, on at the Guildhall Art Gallery

Week in Review – 11 September

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mw66053.jpgSarah 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. 

Week in Review – 21 August

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My object of the week is this c.1760 Worcester dish, which features the company’s Valentine pattern (Brian Haughton Gallery). Featuring symbols of love, the emotional qualities of the object resonate with the work I’m currently doing on my monograph project, which examines the social and emotional functions of domestic space and its associated material culture.

This week, I was also intrigued to read the article ‘Renowned Feminist Art Historian Amelia Jones Believes that the Discipline of Art History Should be Restructured to Embrace New Narratives and Diverse Voices‘. Whilst it’s true that Jones’s argument is nothing new (indeed, it has been advocated by Pollock, Parker, and Krauss among others), I find it heartening to see these views discussed on the public platform of the Huffington Post.

I’m also currently obsessed with the New York Public Library’s Emoji Bot – tweet an emoji to the bot, and it will reply with an object/image from the Library’s collections.

Other things that caught my eye this week included:

The programme for the Women’s History Scotland Annual Conference (coming up this Friday).

This Atlas Obscura article How Flower-Obsessed Victorians Encoded Messages in Bouquets.

This interview with the curator of the The Henry Moore Institute’s latest exhibition, William Hamo Thornycroft: ‘Charity And Justice’.

Thomas Dixon’s blog post What is anger? 1. Martha Nussbaum, discusses the definition of anger provided by Nussbaum’s latest book Anger and Forgiveness.

The Things That Make Us podcast, a podcast about people and the objects that have shaped them.

The programme for the Critical Love Studies Research Workshop at the University of Hull’s Love Research Network.

Linda Walsh’s new bookA Guide to Eighteenth-Century Art. I’m interested to see how (and if) Walsh integrates the concerns advocated by Jones (above) in her account of eighteenth-century art.

BAVS Research Funding Award Report – Bronte Parsonage Museum

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Since beginning my research on the commonplace books of Ellen Warter, I – like their author – have been preoccupied with the Brontës. For Warter, the sisters were the objects of estimation, affection, and interest, and she obsessively documented them within her own literary productions. Made around 1880, and now housed in the Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh, her commonplace books are quite unlike ‘conventional’ examples of the genre, which traditionally compile excerpted texts from a broad array of writers upon various topics. Instead, Warter devoted over 300 pages of her volumes to the lives and literature of the Brontës, rendering them more of a record of the family than anything else.

For Warter, commonplacing was an inherently familial practice. The granddaughter of the Romantic poet 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, such volumes, a literary inheritance that places Warter’s own productions within a longer history and set of material practices. Beyond this familial context, Warter’s specific interest in the Brontës locates her albums within another subdivision of nineteenth-century album making: the production of volumes dedicated to literary celebrities, specifically those celebrating and commemorating the Brontës, a number of which I examined during my research trip to the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth.

The Museum holds numerous scrapbooks, albums, and collections of newspaper cuttings chronicling the Brontë family. With dates ranging between 1860 and 1980, the broad range of these holdings suggests the consistency of such practices well into the twentieth century. My research at the Museum focused on those albums produced after the Brontës’ heyday in the mid-nineteenth century until around 1914, in accordance with the chronological parameters of my broader project on ‘assemblage’ in the long nineteenth century. The albums I examined were characterized by the variety of their visual, material, and textual inclusions, which variously included photographs, written correspondence, printed images, dried flora, and newspaper cuttings. Such diversity highlights the variation inherent to nineteenth-century album production, and the dangers of adhering strictly to taxonomic classifications such as ‘scrapbook’ or ‘commonplace book’; ultimately reinforcing the importance of comparing and relating Warter’s own manuscripts to these albums. Further to these material observations, the analysis of around 40 examples of such volumes also revealed a number of emergent themes within their inclusions, with emphases upon: death, commemoration, and memorialization; portrayal and representation; locality; and social and familial relations; many of which are echoed within Warter’s own books. Going forward, the project will situate Warter’s treatment of the Brontës in relation to the albums studied on this visit, as well as the album production of the broader Warter and Southey families, made possible thanks to a travel grant award from the British Association for Romantic Studies.

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I would like to thank both the British Association for Victorian Studies and the Brontë Parsonage Museum for making this visit possible. The Museum’s Brontë collection is the largest in the world, and its holdings include original manuscripts, objects belonging to the family, and the records of the Brontë Society, established in 1893. The Museum also houses an extensive research library of primary and secondary sources, making it a crucial repository for the study of any aspect of the Brontë family.

N. B. this report will also appear in a future edition of the BAVS Newsletter.

Week in Review – 7 August

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This week’s object of the week isn’t mine per se, but Zara Anishanslin’s. In her recently published book, Portrait of a Woman in Silk: Hidden Histories of the British Atlantic World, Anishanslin uses the silk dress depicted above as a means to (de)construct and examine the worlds of four identifiable people who produced, wore, and represented it: a London weaver, one of early modern Britain’s few women silk designers, a Philadelphia merchant’s wife, and a New England painter.

 Other announcements, events, courses, and posts that caught my eye this week included:

The recent special issue of the Scandinavian Journal of History on Gender, Material Culture and Emotions in Scandinavian History. The issue contains articles on religion and emotion, needlework, botany, and Chinese porcelain.

The University of Exeter’s fascinating new MOOC Empire: the Controversies of British Imperialism, which begins today.

Sean Willcock’s fascinating article ‘Composing the Spectacle: Colonial Portraiture and the Coronation Durbars of British India, 1877-1911‘, in the latest volume of Art History.

The Paul Mellon Centre for British Art’s new public lecture course, The Country House: Art, Politics, and Taste. The course covers a fascinating array of subjects over a broad period. See the syllabus here.

This videoAcademic video blogs: 5 tips for getting started. I’ve written before about enjoying both Ellie Mackin & Emma Cole’s early career researcher vlogs, so it was with interest that I watched this source from jobs.ac.uk. I believe that video blogs, much like twitter, can help to destabilise traditional hierarchies endemic to academia.

Alexis L. Boylan’s article ‘Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Robert Louis Stevenson, and the Erotics of Illness‘, from the recent issue of American Art is a gorgeously written, fascinating approach to its subject, Saint-Gaudens’ portrait miniature of the infirm Louis Stevenson.

Lily Ford’s essay Unlimiting the Bounds”: the Panorama and the Balloon View‘, the second essay in a two-part series in which she explores how balloon flight transformed our ideas of landscape.