This week the Bodleian Library’s John Johnson Collection of printed ephemera tweeted the following question on behalf of their visiting scholar Jill Shefrin.
— John Johnson Coll (@jjcollephemera) January 24, 2017
Shefrin is currently undertaking a major research project on writing blanks, objects which are are ephemeral, yet important pieces of visual and material culture. The post received several responses, unearthing some truly beautiful examples of the genre:
— Stephen Barker (@Stephen25367746) January 24, 2017
— Sandy Rich (@MrSandyRich) January 26, 2017
This got me thinking about my own research into the ephemeral, specifically my postdoctoral project on collage and assemblage before the twentieth century. Aside from the research I’ve completed as part of the project’s pilot study (which I discuss here and here), so far I’ve mostly be concerned with finding out what collaged objects survive in what collections. This has meant many a rewarding hour trawling museum and library catalogues, and has led to some really exciting discoveries that I’m anxious to research further over the next few years.
It’s because of this richness—the huge variety of collaged objects preserved in museum collections today—that I’m convinced that many many more examples must be out there, both in museum and private collections. As the project progresses, I fully intend to follow the John Johnson Collection’s example and use Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media to try and unearth as many examples of collage from colleagues, research institutions, and the public more broadly.
As my research on collage is inherently concerned with ideas of intimacy and identity, I’m particularly keen to learn about personal, private objects – objects that might have passed down through several generations, rich with inherited meaning, yet whose private (i.e. non-institutional) nature might mean that these stories are never heard. Accordingly, I’m becoming increasingly interested in the prospect of creating a kind of crowdsourced ‘database’ of collaged objects, where individuals can submit objects, images, stories, and reflections. The contours of such a project will obviously need further delineation, but I feel like it could make a fascinating counterpart to the more ‘academic’ aspects of this project. As ever, I’ll be posting more about my various research projects as they develop, and stay tuned for a post on ‘the book proposal’ coming asap.
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.