history of emotions

Week in Review – 19 March

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33005859916_69ac826dc4_b.jpgRobert Dighton, The Macaroni Painter, or Billy Dimple sitting for his Picture, 1772. British Museum, London.

First up, Dominic Janes’ post, ‘A Queer Taste for Macaroni‘, on the Public Domain Review. I recently had an article accepted for a special issue of Aphra Behn Online: Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts, 1640-1830 that explores the concept of “camp” with regards to eighteenth-century studies. My article will locate macaronism within a visual and ironic rhetoric of campness, and Janes’ new book Oscar Wilde Prefigured: Queer Fashioning and British Caricature, 1750-1900 is an essential resource for this work. 

Secondly, I was hugely excited to read about the National Gallery of Victoria’s upcoming exhibition Love: Art of Emotion 1400–1800, which draws upon the NGV’s diverse permanent collection to explore the theme of love in art, and the changing representations of this complex emotion throughout the early modern period in Europe.

I also enjoyed reading this review of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge’s exhibition Madonnas and Miracles: The Holy Home in Renaissance Italy, which the role of domestic objects in sustaining and inspiring faith.

I was also intrigued to read: this post from Notches Blog on ‘Porno Chic and the Sex Wars: A Roundtable on the Politics of Sexual Representations in the 1970s‘; and this fascinating article on the spiritualist artist Hima af Klint.

I’ve got several multi-media picks this week: first, this episode of The Why Factor on using our hands; this episode of the Art Detective Podcast on Tipu’s Tiger – with Sona Datta; and finally, this video of Mary Beard’s lecture, Women in Power.

The following CFPs and conferences also caught my attention this week:

CFP: Fashion, Dress, and Post-Postmodernism (September 20, 2017)

CFP: Vistas. 19th Century Studies (Philadelphia, 15-17 Mar 18)

CONF: Rejection & Recovery in the History of Art & Architecture (Boston, 24-25 Mar 17)

CFP: Early Netherlandish Art in the Long 19th Century (Ghent, 24 – 26 May 18)

CFP: Art of Power: The 3rd Earl of Bute, Politics and Collecting in Enlightenment Britain (2nd Oct 2017 – 4th Oct 2017)

WORKSHOP: Approaching Inner Lives: Thinking, Feeling, Believing, 1300-1900 (Tuesday 28 March 2017)

Week in Review – 15 January

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First up, I’m hugely excited by the programme for this year’s Slade Lectures, which will be given by Caroline van Eck. Eck’s work on objects, experience, senses, rituals and neoclassicism are critical in my own work, but the Lectures are an unmissable series for anyone interested in the history of art. Fingers crossed the lectures will be podcasted, as they have been in previous years.

I read with interest Nathan Perl-Rosenthal’s series on ‘Plotting Revolution‘, for the Age of Revolutions blog. This three-part series considers the complex relationship between history and narrative, something which is also explored in the fascinating Storying the Past project, which will discuss the book The Extraordinary Work of Ordinary Writing (and therefore, issues surrounding women’s life-writing and biography) via twitter in February.

I also enjoyed Anne-Lieke Brem’s post Things that matter(-ed): A biography of anatomical votive reliefs for The Votives Project, which reflects on issues of biography and the changing value of ancient votive reliefs as ‘things’.

I was also made aware of the Association for Critical Race Art History‘s fantastic bibliographic resource this week. Their site provides a number of bibliographies, divided by region, for those seeking to investigate issues of race and ethnicity in art and visual culture. These extensive bibliographies are available here.

As ever, the latest issue of the Journal of Art Historiography provides a fascinating selection of articles, translations and discussions. In the December 2016 issue, I was particularly intrigued by the discussions of ‘Baroque for a wide public’, which seek to add nuance to dominant histories of this global movement.

The following CFPs, CFAs and conferences also caught my attention this week:

CFP: Carnal Canucks, Histories of Sexuality in Canada

CFP: ANTIPODEAN ANTIQUITIES: CLASSICAL RECEPTION ‘DOWN UNDER’

CFP – Nostalgia & Consumer Culture in the 20th Century; SSHA 2017

CFC: The Spaces and Places of Horror

CONF: Coding and Representation

CONF: Trauma & Melodrama: Emotions in the Public Sphere / Conference in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago

CFP: From Abolition to Black Lives Matter: Past and Present Forms of Transnational Black Resistance

CFP: Photography and the Histories of Working Peoples and Laboring Lives

Finally, I’m excited to see the Glad to be Gay exhibition, which draws on the unique Hall-Carpenter Archives and the Women’s Library collection to mark the 50th anniversary of a pivotal piece of legislation, the 1967 Sexual Offences Act. Glad to be Gay will be at LSE, London, until April.

Week in Review – 8 January

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Perhaps the most significant event this week, was the passing of the great art critic John Berger, whose hugely influential book and tv series ‘Ways of Seeing’, has been a touchstone of art historical and critical enquiry since its publication in the 1970s. Many excellent articles and obituaries of Berger were published this week, including this, this, and this.

I was excited to see that Joanne Begiato’s article ‘Tears and the Manly Sailor in England, c. 1760–1860‘, in the Journal for Maritime Research is free access. Download it here.

I greatly enjoyed the post, ‘Feel free to call me Dr.’ on the Tenure, She Wrote blog. It’s excellent on the politics of nomenclature in academia, and the importance of these issues for academics who are from minority backgrounds. I also enjoyed Dr Kieran Fenby-Hulse’s post, ‘From 2016 to 2017: Thoughts on Research Practice, Embedding Creativity, Punk Academia, and Work-Life Balance‘, which is also great on issues of identity within the academy.

There were a number of events that drew my attention this week, including the Centre for the History of the Emotions‘ 2017 Seminar Programme , the upcoming event ‘Living With Feeling in the Nineteenth-Century‘ at Royal Holloway’s Centre for Victorian Studies, and the Cruising the 1970s project’s eventBetween the Sheets: Radical print cultures before the queer bookshop‘.

The following CFPs also caught my eye:

Call for Submissions: Anthology on Arab Masculinity

CFP: Moving Beyond Paris and London: Influences, Circulation, and Rivalries in Fashion and Textiles between France and England, 1700-1914 (Paris, October 13-14, 2017)

CFP: Remembering the Dead: Slavery and Mortality through Visual Culture in Comparative Perspective, AHA 2018 Panel (Washington D.C., 4-7 January 2018)

Call for Submissions: Museums Journal (theme: ‘Small’)

Call for Participation: Material Culture Caucus at 2017 ASA Conference

Business, Wealth, Enterprise, and Debt: The Economic Side of Mormon History, 1830-1930

CFP: “Hope and Fear”: Interdisciplinary Conference in the Humanities

CFP: Milestones, Markers, and Moments: Turning Points in American Experience and Tradition

CFPInternational Postgraduate Port and Maritime Studies Conference (20-21 April 2017, University of Bristol)

CFP: Classical Antiquity & Memory (19th – 21st Century)

CFP: BAVS 2017 conference, Victorians Unbound

I also really enjoyed the following interview with the design historian Glenn Adamson, titled, ‘The Object as Reality-Check’. It’s a fascinating read that ties discussions of material objects, past and present, with their political contexts. Specifically, Adamson discusses this in relation to his recent course ‘Objects of Dispute‘, a 10 session-long intensive seminar offered as part of the MA in History of Design and Curatorial Studies, run jointly by The New School’s Parsons School of Design and the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York, and in so doing, teases out the pedagogical issues of teaching about contentious material culture in the current political climate.

Tonight, I listened to my colleague Christian Weikop’s fascinating Radio 3 programme, Kandinsky – A Story of Revolution. It’s available on iPlayer now.

Finally, I note that Yale Center for British Art is advertising its Curatorial Research Fellowship opportunity – there’s just a few more days left, so submit your applications while you can!

Week in Review – 1 January

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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.

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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 essayIdentity 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.

Abstract for Sibylline Leaves: Chaos and Compilation in the Romantic Period

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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.

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.