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.
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.
Robert 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)
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 Era. I 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.
CFP: Consuming Gender, Assuming Gender one-day symposium (14 July 2017, Cardiff University)
CFP: Decor and Architecture (Lausanne, 16-17 Nov 17)
CFP: French 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.
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)
First up, I really enjoyed watching Dr Juliet Shields’ fortuitously timed lecture, ‘Did Sir Walter Scott Invent Scotland?’, which comes just ahead of my lectures on Scott’s legacy, visual representation, and his home of Abbotsford, which begin next week.
Secondly, I’m excited to see the National Museum of Scotland’s new free exhibition, Scottish pottery: Art and Innovation, which examines the wide range of pottery produced in the last 250 years.
I was interested to see that The John Rylands Library is hosting the event Rip It Up: A Celebration of the Counter-Culture, which includes a zine workshop. Thanks to their evocative collaged forms, zines are something that I’m becoming increasingly interested in. Due to their strong counter-cultural, extra-canonical nature, the production and consumption of zines can be a useful way to explore minority and non-heteronormative identity, something that I’d like to investigate in the future.
I’m looking forward to spending a few hours reading the latest volume of the Cahiers Victoriens et Édouardiens journal, a special issue entitled Object Lessons: The Victorians and the Material Text.
The Morgan Library’s new exhibition, I’m Nobody! Who are you? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson, examines twenty-four poems as well as ‘an array of visual material, including hand-cut silhouettes, photographs and daguerreotypes, contemporary illustrations, and other items that speak to the rich intellectual and cultural environment in which Dickinson lived and worked’.
This post about the wallpaper collector Suzanne Lipschutz is full of beautiful examples of vintage wallpapers.
I enjoyed reading a number of blog posts this week, including Shane Doyle’s post for Notches Blog (which is a perennial favourite of mine) ‘Local Sexual Cultures and the Response to HIV/AIDS Along the Uganda-Tanzania Border‘, which explores the history of how HIV understood within African communities. Hailey Maxwell’s post ‘DECAPITATION IN THE “LOW” SURREALIST REVOLUTION‘ is fascinating exploration of what ‘revolution’ is.
The following workshops and conferences also caught my eye this week:
CFP: International Design Organisations (Brighton, 8-10 Nov 17)
CFP: On the Matter of Blackness in Europe: Transnational Perspectives (May 4-5, 2017)
CFP: Corporeal Materiality (Dallas, 8 Apr 17)
CFP: David B. Warren Symposium on American Material Culture and the Texas Experience
CONF: Private Collecting and Public Display (Leeds, 30-31 Mar 17)
CONF: Symbolic Articulation (London, 10 Mar 17)
CFP: Culture on the Move in Edwardian Britain (Lancaster, 8-9
CFP: The material culture of exploration and academic travel, 1700-1900
Finally, I was thrilled to see that the National Trust and National Archives are hosting the event, ‘Queer city: London club culture 1918 – 1967‘, which will re-create the interiors of The Caravan, London’s queer-friendly members club of 1934.
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.
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.