The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Heritage Damage in Haiti - a Provisional Survey (Th. Schuler)

Heritage Damage in Haiti - a Provisional Survey (by Thomas Schuler)


GETTING INFORMATION

ICOM Secretariat and ICOM Disaster Relief Task Force (DRTF) have immediately reacted to the Haiti earthquake and were extremely busy in seeking direct or indirect information about museums in Haiti. As every other NGO, ICOM faced enormous difficulties in getting reliable information directly from Haiti. Particular helpful was the nearby ICOM National Committee of the Dominican Republic and the Museum Association of the Caribbean (MAC).

DRTF has compiled a comprehensive list of museums in the earthquake region: 3 museums open to the public, 6 museum projects with valuable collections and 4 other museum projects. DRTF also collected contact data from relevant NGO`s and analysed satellite pictures. It edited each day internal papers and communicated the news within the BLUE SHIELD network. Due to the collapse of communication structure in Haiti, these preliminary reports ("watch list") are quite insufficient and not suitable for wide circulation.

Meanwhile ICOM has direct contact to some museums colleagues in Haiti, and it has published last Friday a preliminary "Status Report" (to be updated), where you may read details about museum colleagues, museum buildings and collections: http://icom.museum/icbs-press/100121_haiti_damages_statement_UK.pdf


HERITAGE DAMAGE

On January 16th, UNOSAT has published a satellite analysis of 110 major public buildings in Port-au-Prince - more than half of them are destroyed or damaged!
http://unosat-maps.web.cern.ch/unosat-maps/HT/EQ20100114HTI/UNOSAT_HTI_EQ2010_BldDamages_v1_LR.pdf

On January 24th, "The New York Times" published an article by Marc Lacey on "Cultural Riches Turn to Rubble in Haiti Quake".
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/world/americas/24heritage.html

According to my personal impressions and on the base of still very limited information, I would try to summarize:

1) Extremely heavy damage has been done to monuments, to famous buildings of the capital as well as to protected heritage quarters (e.G in Jacmel).

2) Many libraries of schools, colleges and universities have been collapsed.
Four libraries are well known for their collections of manuscipts and rare books:
Saint Martial Library (with precious manuscripts from 17th to 19th cent.) has been destroyed; the National Library, the Library of the State University and the Gonzague Library (Frère de Saint-Louis de Gonzague / F.I.C.) did not collapse, but buildings are in an unstable condition.
The heritage loss will fully depend on our effort to salvage these collections as soon as possible.

3) The main building of the National Archive seems to be okay, but we have no information on its second building. The problem is that many very valuable records are still kept in the Ministries and other public buildings. Many of them collapsed and the Government hurries to clear the sites. Archivists complain that they have no chance to safe the files from the debris.

4) Gladly, museum collections and buildings were less affected. (See the mentioned ICOM report and the following links.) But several galleries were severely damaged, e.g. the "Centre d'Art Haitien" or the "Fondation Culture et Creation et Fondation Tiga".

Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien, Port au Prince
http://www.facebook.com/photo_search.php?oid=247281734340&view=all#/photo.php?pid=116883&op=1&o=all&view=all&subj=247281734340&aid=-1&oid=247281734340&id=100000514369339&fbid=104361802924298

Musée d'art haïtien, Port au Prince
http://www.facebook.com/photo_search.php?oid=247281734340&view=all#/photo.php?pid=127210&op=1&o=all&view=all&subj=247281734340&aid=-1&oid=247281734340&id=100000514369339

[Musée Vaudou] Collection Marianne Lehmann, Pétion-Ville Interview that Marianne Lehmann gave for Swiss TV on 17 January, 2010:
http://www.tsr.ch/tsr/index.html?siteSect=500000&bcid=730313#vid=11727423


MOST NEEDED

What is most needed for Haiti heritage in general?
Taking most seriously the damage done to heritage
- by local government
- by security forces of all nations
- by the international heritage community.
And we have to be quick: "Our principal enemy will be the rain from now" (Season February / March)

What is most needed for Haiti museums, archives and libraries?
Thanks to solid brick structure of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, only few of these buildings sheltering invaluable heritage collapsed. But many of them are so weakened that heritage experts may not enter now. National Library director Françoise Beaulieu Thybille said that the Haitian government choose two (!) architects to evaluate the damage to the public building. Cultural building will come after hospital etc. Our colleagues in Haiti stress that they need foreign experts of building static which are able to assess structural damage as well as to supervise provisional consolidation work (that enables professional evacuation of collections) and to avoid unnecessary demolition. Additional security measures are a common need as well, because the ordinary ones (building structures, electronic devices, security personnel) are disrupted or waekend.

What is most needed for Haiti monuments?
Experts are very concerned about the "cleaning" of the streets form debris. Around the monuments this will cause a second (and avoidable) wave of destruction, and it will make a professional reconstruction impossible. This is particularly important in the severely struck port town Jacmel, famous for its vernacular architecture. As a senior ICOMOS official pointed out: Stop the mantra of "Everything is destroyed", and concentrate on saving the damaged monuments from cleaning and demolition.


PREPARING RELIEF ACTIVITIES

On the initiative of ICOM Haiti, a crisis team ("Patrimoine en Danger") has been established. Lewis A. Clormeus, a young functionary of Ministry of Culture, is in charge ("secretariat executif"). This team will co-ordinate all support activities, in order to avoid double action and to make sure that the heritage objects will be saved from debris before heavy engines will start working. A list of identified sites has been compiled. They do not restrict themselves to museums or major heritage sites, because in Haiti there are many valuable records or collections in public buildings (like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) or in private property (collectors). A first action takes place at the "Direction Generale des Archives Nationales d'Haiti".

This week ICOM secretariat (contact: Stanislas Tarnowski) and DRTF (contact: Thomas Schuler) will decide on the quickest and most efficient way to give first assistance - by a team of experts (alone or with partners) and/or by money (DRFM fund, call for donations).

ICA (contact: Christophe Jacobs) and IFLA (contact: Danielle Mincio) are very active as well in preparing assistance through their secretariat, their committees and their members. Yesterday ICA published an important second statement:
http://www.ica.org/en/2010/01/27/second-ica-statement-haiti-reconstruction

ICOMOS has published a newsletter (E-News #53, not yet on the web site) describing the planned activities. The President of ICOMOS has appointed an "ICOMOS Haiti Heritage Recovery Steering Committee" composed of eminent international experts in the field of heritage rescue and recovery and on Haitian heritage. Chair: Dinu Bumbaru, the former Secretary-General of ICOMOS.

UNESCO is planning a reconnaissance mission going to Haiti. Its Haitian offices are OK (the buildings, not all their local staff are accounted for). They also will liaise with the army and Interpol to try to have protection of cultural sites to avoid looting. They consider contacting the UN Security Council to call for international action on the cultural heritage issue.


BLUE SHIELD

This umbrella organisation (for archives, libraries, monuments and museums) was very active and created - the first time after a disaster! - web 2.0 tools for heritage assistance.

1) ANCBS acted from the beginning as co-ordinator between ICA, IFLA, ICOMOS and ICOM.

2) ICBS published a resolution: http://ancbs.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=103:statement-earthquake-haiti2010&catid=10:statements&Itemid=20

3) ANCBS established a special website in English, French and Spanish, where volunteers may apply online: "Haiti 2010 Blue Shield Solidarity". http://haiti2010.blueshield-international.org
More than 180 volunteers have already joined! This initiative is based on the great success last year, when two BLUE SHIELD teams assisted the collapsed Cologne City Archive; more than 100 international voluteers took part at the two "international weeks".

4) This website is accompanied by the "Haiti 2010 Blue Shield Solidarity" group on Facebook with more than 650 members. This is the best information source for Haiti heritage damage:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=info&gid=247281734340

5) On Twitter you will find "Blueshieldcoop": http://twitter.com/blueshieldcoop.
They are not very active now, but this will change - as the Cologne archive case proved - as soon as the first foreign teams will be working in Haiti

H-MUSEUM
H-Net Network for Museums and Museum Studies
E-Mail: h-museum@h-net.msu.edu
WWW: http://www.h-museum.net

Museums and the Market (Leeds/UK, 10-11 September 2010)

Second Call for Papers
MGHG Annual Conference, Sept 10th and 11th 2010 Leeds City Museum

MUSEUMS AND THE MARKET

Ever since the historian Frank Herrmann first directed attention to the important role that the market has played in the changing fashions for collecting, in his The English as Collectors (1972) (recently republished, in 1999, by Oak Knoll Press), it has become increasingly clear that the market has been no mere ancillary factor in the history of museums and the development of their collections. A real interest has recently re-emerged in questions of the influence of the market on how we understand, consume, interpret and value objects. These developments can be seen as a part of the drive for an ever deeper contextualisation that emerged as part of the 'New Museology' in the 1980s. This 'market turn', if we can suggest that such a shift in academic focus is occurring, offers the exciting prospect of a reinvestigation of the historiography of museums and their collections.

In the history of nearly every museum there has been a significant engagement with the wider market structures and yet these engagements rarely feature in the interpretation of the history of the objects as we encounter them in the modern museum. Indeed, whilst relevant studies have often focused on the art market, it is increasingly clear that other markets, such as those pertaining to natural history and specimen collecting, scientific instruments and the collecting and display of archaeological artefacts, are also part of the museum's engagement with market structures. The historiography of collections illustrates this engagement, reflecting the changing relationships between curatorial interests and the wider field of consumption. It is therefore appropriate, given the current academic interest in the commercial aspects of the history of collections and the wide range of objects that museums collect, interpret and display, to look anew at the role played by commerce in museum acquisition practices. Can such an approach offer a different way of interpreting collecting and the individual objects in museum collections? Why has the role of the market often been downplayed, ignored, or even suppressed in museums? Could an approach to interpretation that includes reference to the market help the visitor to understand why specific collections have been assembled? This conference proposal, therefore, focuses on the intersections, the formal and informal spaces where the market and the museum meet and overlap.

The conference invites papers on themes such as;

The role of agents and dealers in the development of museum collections.

The intersections between the market, the museum and evolving discourses; art history, the history of science and museography/museology.

The market and its relationship to the role of patronage and philanthropy in the museum.

The influence of the market in the history of museum practice; for example the developing influence of the blockbuster exhibition.

The role of museums, galleries and heritage in local and national economies; for example in cultural-led economic regeneration.

The relationship between museums/heritage, the market and evolving national and international legislation; for example restrictions on the ownership, movement and circulation of cultural property, such as the Waverley Criteria.

The relationships between museums/galleries and contemporary commodity culture.


We invite papers on a wide range of museums, galleries and collections, such as: fine art; decorative art; natural history; social history; industrial history; local history; heritage; military history; anthropology and science collections. (this list is by no means meant to be exhaustive).

We also invite session proposals which map onto the themes listed above. For example we are hoping to have a session which, due to the location of the 2010 conference, considers the history of museums and the market in Leeds, 1830-1930. Session proposals should include a brief outline of the session (300 words) as well as three or four abstracts (300 words each) for the proposed session.

Please send a 300 word abstract for proposed papers to Dr Mark Westgarth and Dr Abigail Harrison Moore, School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT.
m.w.westgarth@leeds.ac.uk
a.l.moore@leeds.ac.uk

Closing date for papers: 1st February 2010.

--
H-MUSEUM
H-Net Network for Museums and Museum Studies
E-Mail: h-museum@h-net.msu.edu
WWW: http://www.h-museum.net

Crisis and Imagination (Maynooth/IE, 24-27 August 2010)

"Crisis and Imagination"
11th EASA Biennial Conference
Maynooth/Ireland, 24-27 August 2010
http://www.easaonline.org/conferences/easa2010/index.htm


CfP: WHAT CRISIS? REPRESENTATIONS OF MIGRATION, EUROPE AND THE ROLE OF
MUSEUMS (W085)

Convenors
Kerstin Poehls (Humboldt University) - kerstin.poehls@culture.hu-berlin.de
Silja Klepp (University of Leipzig) - info@siljaklepp.de
Mary Stevens (UCL)

Discussant
Sabine Hess (LMU Munich)

Abstract
What crisis? Representations of migration and Europe and the role of museums

With regard to the place of migration in museums, ethics of representation come to the fore. What are the critical/ambivalent relationships between museal space and (clandestine) migrants? How are migration museums, state policy, migrant rights groups and imaginaries of migrants past and present linked?

"What crisis?" was the reaction of an activist from Mali when asked to comment on the economic crash,* pointing out that the inflationary use of the word "crisis" is not always proportionate. Millions of migrants on their way north and west imagine Europe as quite the opposite of "crisis": politically stable, promising prosperity or at least the absence of hunger or repression.

On the other hand, images of migrant bodies circulate in the media all over Europe but in whose interest? A number of European countries have recently sought to revise a national self-image to incorporate their histories of (im)migration and now reflect this inside their museum spaces. Yet when migration becomes the topic of an exhibition, the ethics of representation come to the fore: who is talking about whom?
Who is the audience, and what kind of story about migration, Europe and its state is being told?

This workshop will seek to explore the critical and ambivalent relationships between museums/galleries, migrants and their individual/collective agency, advocacy and migrant rights groups. Bringing together young researchers interested in the various aspects of the representation of migration, we want to debate the relationship between migration museums and state policy, especially focusing on the (unintentional) role of migration museums as part of a strategy to reinforce the boundaries of 'Fortress Europe' by reinforcing a distinction between the various forms of mobility we witness.

* www.noborder.org/crossing_borders

We would welcome proposals for papers on any of the following areas:
- museal and other representations of migration and mobilities inside and into EUrope
- how do museums deal with the question of clandestine migation
- representations of European border regime(s)
- materiality and material culture of migration

Papers have to be submitted via the website; if you are interested in proposing a paper, follow this link:
http://www.nomadit.co.uk/easa/easa2010/panels.php5?PanelID=666
Deadline: 1 March 2010

--
Dr. Kerstin Poehls | "Exhibiting Europe"
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Institut für Europäische Ethnologie
Mohrenstraße 40-41 | DE-10117 Berlin kerstin.poehls@culture.hu-ber

--
H-MUSEUM
H-Net Network for Museums and Museum Studies
E-Mail: h-museum@h-net.msu.edu
WWW: http://www.h-museum.net

Publication: Museums - Inclusion - Engagement

Contributions are invited to our forthcoming publication: Museums | Inclusion | Engagement.

In December, we held a very well-received conference in London on this theme and the papers from this event will be included in this publication. We are now inviting additional contributions to this title from international museum professionals and others with an interest in this field.

We particularly welcome contributions on the following topics (but are not limited to these):
• case studies of successful or innovative initiatives in this field; • how to obtain sustainable, ongoing funding to support long-term programmes which make a difference; • how to evaluate the short- and long-term impact of projects; • how to reaching the most excluded groups or individuals; • how to prioritise work among the various communities; • how to use new community-based communication media; • how to build the right organisational structure to deliver effective programmes; • what can be learnt from the experience of other sectors working in these fields.

Among the authors currently contributing to the publication are:
• Lucie Fitton (Museum of London)
• Eithne Nightingale (V&A)
• Alison Lightbown (Geffrye Museum)
• Mark Miller (Tate Britain)
• Laura Phillips (British Museum)
• Emma Poulter (British Museum)
• Liz Puddick (London Transport Museum)
• Gurdeep Thiara (Manchester Museum)

Contributions to this publication, in the form of essays of between 3,000 and 5,000 words, are invited. If you would like to contribute, please email me - as soon as possible - with an indication of your interest, your proposed subject, and a brief biography. The copy date for the final submission of essays is 26 February 2010.

I look forward very much to hearing from you.

Graeme Farnell
Publisher
MuseumsEtc

PS Please feel free to forward this email to colleagues whom you feel may be interested in contributing - thanks!

--
H-MUSEUM
H-Net Network for Museums and Museum Studies
E-Mail: h-museum@h-net.msu.edu
WWW: http://www.h-museum.net

Lecture series: Translating Knowledge. Global Perspectives on Museum and Community (University of Michigan)

University of Michigan Museum Studies Program Colloquium

TRANSLATING KNOWLEDGE
Global Perspectives on Museum and Community

Winter Lectures/Workshops
January 2009 - March 2010


What happens to the meaning, the knowledge, associated with an object as it moves from its community of origin to the museum? What role can the community play in the process of translation and transformation? Can partnerships between community and museum mitigate the social and ethical challenges of appropriating and interpreting other people's things and ideas?

The University of Michigan Museum Studies Program is pleased to present, Translating Knowledge: Global Perspectives on Museum and Community, a colloquium that considers strategies for engaging communities in the complex processes of interpreting and presenting their histories and cultures in the museum. This is the second part of a year-long series of lectures and workshops that brings to the University of Michigan ten international scholars whose work offers new models for confronting the social and political challenges of ownership and representation in museums and other cultural institutions.

Each participant will present a lecture that examines the theory and a workshop that explores the practice of their community-engaged scholarship.

Raymond Silverman
University of Michigan
"Locating Culture with/in a Ghanaian Community"
Lecture: Tuesday, January 12, 7:00 pm, Helmut Stern Auditorium, U-M Museum of Art Workshop: Wednesday, January 13, 4-5:30 pm, Multi-Purpose Room, U-M Museum of Art

Paul Tapsell
University of Otago (New Zealand)
"Ko Tawa: Where Are the Glass Cabinets?"
Lecture: Tuesday, January 26, 7:00 pm, Helmut Stern Auditorium, U-M Museum of Art Workshop: Wednesday, January 27, 4-5:30 pm, Multi-Purpose Room, U-M Museum of Art

Sheila Watson
University of Leicester (United Kingdom) "Communities and Museums: Equal Partners?"
Lecture: Tuesday, February 9, 7:00 pm, Helmut Stern Auditorium, U-M Museum of Art Workshop: Wednesday, February 10, 4-5:30 pm, Multi-Purpose Room, U-M Museum of Art

Sven Haakanson
Alutiiq Museum (Alaska)
"Reversing the Loss of Traditional Knowledge through Museum Collections"
Lecture, Monday, February 22, 7:00 pm, Helmut Stern Auditorium, U-M Museum of Art Workshop: Tuesday, February 23, 4-5:30 pm, Multi-Purpose Room, U-M Museum of Art

Aaron Glass
Bard Graduate Center and American Museum of Natural History "Indigenous
Ontologies, Digital Futures: Plural Provenances and the Challenge of Collaborative Museum Documentation"
Lecture: Tuesday, March 9, 7:00 pm, Helmut Stern Auditorium, U-M Museum of Art
Workshop: Wednesday, March 10, 4-5:30 pm, Multi-Purpose Room, U-M Museum of Art

Ivan Karp
Emory University
"Museums and Their Communities or Communities and Their Museums"
Lecture: Tuesday, March 30, 7:00 pm, Helmut Stern Auditorium, U-M Museum of Art Workshop: Wednesday, March 31, 4-5:30 pm, Multi-Purpose Room, U-M Museum of Art


All lectures and workshops are free and open to the public. For additional information about the colloquium please visit the Museum Studies Program website at www.umich.edu/~ummsp/events/tk.htm or call 734-936-6678.

--
H-MUSEUM
H-Net Network for Museums and Museum Studies
E-Mail: h-museum@h-net.msu.edu
WWW: http://www.h-museum.net

CFP: Learning at the Interface

Learning at the interface: Museum and University Collaborations
1-2 July 2010, Sackler Centre for Arts Education, V&A

How can museums and universities work together purposefully to enhance the learning of higher education students?

Recent thinking by the UK government on the delivery of cultural policy and strategy has acknowledged the vital role that museums occupy in supporting and enhancing cultural and educational provision both regionally and nationally (DCMS 2008). In this context, work with schools and community groups has received particular attention (Anderson 2004, Berry 1998, Hooper-Greenhill 1994) yet the enormous potential of museums working with HE remains under-explored, under-researched and the needs of higher education students and citizen scholars are often overlooked by museums.

Research conducted by the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning through Design (CETLD) has highlighted the significant potential and importance of museum-university collaborations and the need to identify successful practices and also barriers that prevent institutions from working together more effectively. With limited public funding available for interdisciplinary educational research, CETLD has made the case for a national review of the opportunities that museum-university partnerships offer and how the needs of higher education students and adult learners can better be supported in museums.

The conference aims to provide a forum for debate surrounding the policy implications of this work and a platform for discussion of issues and ideas that are relevant to the museum and higher education sectors. It will bring together policy makers, curators, educators, academics, students and leading professionals from the educational, creative and cultural sectors. Please see the conference programme at the following link:
http://cetld.brighton.ac.uk/events/learning-at-the-interface-conference-information/conference-programme

A show of work by students from the University of Brighton and Royal College of Art, created in response to the V&A and its collections will be exhibited at the conference.

Papers

We invite proposals for contributions from delegates wishing to present a 25-minute paper. This can be an academic paper with a theory or research focus, or presentation describing how an initiative has been put into practice and its subsequent value. Papers should respond to the themes below, and offer a critical perspective of museum and HE policy and practice and make recommendations for future practice.

Themes

· Museums and university partnerships - opportunities and barriers
· The role of museums in supporting HE student learning
· The educational philosophies and theories that underpin learning and research in museums and HE

Museums and university partnerships - opportunities and barriers

For museums and universities to work together effectively, a series of perceived and actual barriers that inhibit partnership working must be addressed - for example differing approaches to learning, scholarship and research. What opportunities do such partnerships provide? How can successful approaches be identified? Who benefits and how can wider support for collaboration be facilitated?

The role of museums in supporting HE student learning

Museums are increasingly recognised as educational providers and are required to divide and spread their efforts between the needs and demands of different audiences. Can we or should we expect museums to be all things to all people? Should they provide a specialist service for the needs of HE audiences? What form might this take? How can museums better engage with Higher Education and draw on their knowledge and expertise?

The educational philosophies and theories that underpin learning and research in museums and HE

What educational philosophies and learning theories underpin the learning experience of HE students in museums?

Call for Papers

Those interested in presenting papers at the conference are requested to submit an abstract of their proposed paper or presentation by 7 February 2010 by email attachment (the document should be Word 2003 compatible) to Sol Sneltvedt (e-mail: S.Sneltvedt@brighton.ac.uk).
The abstract should not exceed 500 words presented in font size no smaller than 10pt and should include the following information: Author name(s), email address, position title and overall structure of the paper and 5 keywords. Authors will be notified of the acceptance of their proposals by 8 March 2010.
Papers will be peer-reviewed and will be published online. We are currently seeking a publisher to develop all contributions and to extend this emerging field of study.
Accepted authors must submit papers of between 2500 and 3500 words (MS Word Document 2007 or 97-2003, in font size no smaller than 10pt) by e-mail to S.Sneltvedt@brighton.ac.uk <mailto:S.Sneltvedt@brighton.ac.uk> by 5:00 pm on 17 May 2010.

Instructions for Papers

The guidelines for submitting a paper will be sent to each of the contributors.


Sol Sneltvedt
CETLD Project Manager

Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning through Design
University of Brighton
58-67 Grand Parade
Brighton
BN2 0JY

Email S.Sneltvedt@brighton.ac.uk
Telephone +44 (0)1273 644716
http://cetld.brighton.ac.uk <http://arts.brighton.ac.uk>

Death, Commemoration and Memory Conference, Edinburgh 24-25th June

CALL FOR PAPERS

"Death, Commemoration and Memory: An Exploration of Representation, Concept and Change"

Thursday 24th and Friday 25th June 2010

The Death, Commemoration and Memory (DCM) Research Group is based within the School of Arts, Culture and Environment at the University of Edinburgh. Founded in 2008, DCM provides a forum for postgraduates and staff whose research engages with any aspect of the Group's remit, attracting junior and senior scholars from a variety of academic disciplines. Building upon the Group's success, a two-day conference is planned in Edinburgh for June 2010 to provide a platform for further interdisciplinary discussion and to create new networks between researchers with similar interests throughout the academic community.

Topics for discussion may include, but are not limited to:

• Acts of commemoration, mourning practices and rituals
• The social aspects of individual memory, collective memories and cultural attitudes towards memory
• The ethics and etiquette of death studies: the treatment of human remains in archaeology, pathology and museum practice
• Death in the visual arts: commemoration through architectural and artistic practices
• Poetic, literary and musical interpretations of death
• The dichotomy between history and memory
• Psychological and sociological studies of bereavement

We welcome abstracts of 300 words on any aspect of the conference's themes, accompanied by a short academic resume of 200 words maximum. Applications should be sent to dcm.ed@hotmail.co.uk with 'DCM CONFERENCE' as the email's subject.

Submission deadline: 12th March 2010

The Material Life of Things Seminar Group

The Material Life of Things Project
Seminar Group

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

In recent years, the evidence of technical and material analysis has become increasingly important to art-historical interpretation. Beyond their traditional role in informing the restoration of artefacts, technical investigations have greatly contributed to our understanding of how works of art were made. Yet, less critical attention has been paid to the ?use-life? of artefacts ? that is, to the manipulation, exchange and consumption of artefacts throughout their life histories. Drawing together researchers from different areas of expertise including curators and conservators, this research project aims to explore the material lives of artefacts in a variety of media, encouraging object-based, methodological and theoretical discussions relating to the shifting relationship between artefacts, people and environments throughout the life history of particular objects or classes of objects. Emphasis is placed on works of art as material objects considering the ways in which they are manipulated, re-made and unmade by different individuals, at different times, manifesting different social and cultural practices.

Among issues that can be raised are the following: temporality, authenticity and change; fragmentation and reconstruction; aggregation of artefacts and the status of the object; ritual damage/reparation; pre-modern restorations; material history and conservation of new media; durability, ephemerality and material residuals; recontextualisation/decontextualisation (i.e. artefacts in consonant and dissonant environments); confiscation, displacement and repatriation; individual vs. corporate attitudes towards materiality of art; commoditisation and decommoditisation; ownership, market and the value of materiality; historiographic and methodological approaches to the materiality of art; the concept of ?object biography? and its implications/limitations.

As part of the Material Life of Things, scholars working across the discipline are invited to join a research group to discuss various topics and address methodological questions within the theme of The Material Life of Things. The group will consist of 15-20 scholars meeting in the academic years 2009-10 and 2010-11, starting in spring 2010. Group members will be asked to develop a research project with a view to publishing the findings at the end of the designated period. Plenary sessions in which all group members will participate will be followed by small group discussions (4/5 members) in which individual projects and papers will be discussed. Group members will also be asked to participate in symposia to take place during the time span of the project, including a final international two-day symposium. A collection of essays presenting the results of the project is also planned. Applications to join the research group are welcome from scholars at all stages of their career: from current graduate students to established scholars. Scholars applying to join the research group are asked to submit a proposal of 300 words on a topic that they wish to develop over the course of the project. We encourage proposals that address both object-based and theoretical/methodological issues. Topics are welcome from all periods and could address any aspect of The Material Life of Things, with the issues above providing a general starting point.

Deadline for applications: 12 March 2010.

Applicants should send a CV, covering letter and a proposal of not more than 300 words detailing how they would develop their topic over the period of the project.

Applications should be addressed to Professor Caroline Arscott, Head of Research, and sent c/o Cynthia de Souza, Research Forum, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN.

The Research Forum will contribute towards the costs of attending the seminars.


_______________________________________________________________________


H-ARTHIST
Humanities-Net Discussion List for Art History
E-Mail-Liste fuer Kunstgeschichte im H-Net

Fragen an die Redaktion / Editorial Board Contact Address:
hah-redaktion@h-net.msu.edu

Beitraege bitte an / Submit contributions to:
h-arthist@h-net.msu.edu

Homepage: http://www.arthist.net

_______________________________________________________________________

Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's The Arts! (The missing panel from NHL)

I wasn't insta-blogging this like Jen W was, so you'll have to rely on my notes and recollections for a reconstruction. (Appropriate, for an event hosted by historians!) My apologies to the speakers if I have misunderstood or miscommunicated your intentions!

Conny Bailey - German religious sculpture
Conny, a PhD student at Leicester, began by showing us a photo of a carved wooden altarpiece signed by a mysterious Northern German master, now in a museum in the town where it was produced. No other signed pieces by this artist exist, and it is in fact even questionable whether a town of the size this Westfalian settlement was could even have supported an artist of such quality. Conny made the valuable (and transferrable) point that that attributions to this artist have been based on shaky assumptions: the loss of provenance through war and indiscriminate collecting has meant that style is used to attribute pieces to masters, though it is disagreed how many people worked in any workshop. Additionally, it is frequently assumed that pieces were produced where they are now museumified, an obviously flawed logic, which leads to attributions of pieces to mutliple artists, as well as something Conny calls a "pseudogeography" of artistic production. She is working on reconciling extant pieces with descriptions, tax rolls, wills, and museum records - an ambitious task with which we wish her much success.

Julie Crimshaw - Do you see the trees? Articulating the role of the artist.
Julie gave an adorably animated overview of her planned research into public art and community sustainability, which she is carrying out at the University of Manchester. Often used as a stimulus for cultural regeneration, the actual funciton of public art and the role of the artist in this kind of discourse remains vague and difficult to quantify for the kind of "results" the government is so keen to receive after major investment. Her project, which will be guided by interviews with artists as case studies, hopes to articulate the artistic process and intention involved in this, which will have implications for further policy and practice.

Dhan Zunino Singh - The use of visual sources for a cultural history of the underground railway in Buenos Aires, 1886-1945.
Based at the IHR, Dhan gave a very convincing argument that traced tropes of modernism, nationalism, entrepreneurialism, and historicism through the visual materials surrounding the construction of the BA subway. He used photographs, architectural plans and models, advertising, and public art murals both as documentary evidence, but also as a narative that shaped the experience and understanding of this major metropolitan works.

Whew!

Well, chaps, that's me done for tonight. While I'll do a proper round up later, I'd just like to thank the New History Lab for welcoming me to the blog, and for providing what was a fascinating and busy day. We're off to the Guildhall for refreshments (sorely needed) and a tour now, from which I really don't think I can blog.

But thank you all. I'm very, very grateful to you for brightening up my Saturday!

Using Material Culture to Recreate Early Mordern Kinship Networks and Political Alliences

Cathryn Enis, 'Sources, Controversies, and Rediscovering Affective Significance'

In her research into relationships in Elizabethan gentry in Warwickshire, Cathryn has had to use material culture as evidence, rather than as illustration - an infact, she considers it a vital part of building a rich picture of identities and kinships. It is not just the traditional document that can be read as historical resource.

There are limits to what a document can represent. They may well be a rich resource of information, but they are always open to interpretation and they always leave out much. It may well be that standardised documents, such as wills as Cathryn illustrates, may tell us as much about generalised convention as about particularity and individual relationships.

The relationship which people have with material culture itself might be used to illuminate meanings that lie behind their documented use and giving of it. Objects are not simple things - rather, they are symbols, recognition of which a purely factual reading of documentation cannot always provide. Much as is the case with Shakespeare's bequest to his wife of the 'second best bed'.

Kinship networks are very poorly represented in traditional documentary sources. Business transactions can provide information about contact, but are more difficult to read as evidence of personal affiliation. In the case of John Throckmorton, personal alliences are depicted in the crests built into his stained glass at Coughton Court.

The Sheldon Tapestry Map of Warwickshire is a particularly interesting case. Generally the motivation for their construction has been little studied. The map is, for some reason, turned on its side, and currently is not on display. Access to the other maps is somewhat difficult, as there is some dispute about provenance. Important material evidence is frequently only intermittently available.

15 gentry residences are depicted on the map - the decision to include them cannot be arbitrary. How do all the residences fit together? How were they intended to been seen? As family alliences, as political alliances, as evidence of religious affiliation? They are difficult to read, but sometimes this is a risk that has to be taken if we are to make connections and build up our own tapestries of knowledge.

Warwickshire was a complicated county. A diverse county. A politically and culturally important county. It's 16th century history has often been left behind, due partly to the Free Libraries Fire at Birmingham in which much of the documentation was lost. But it is surely not valid to ignore it because of this. Material culture has value - some would say it has an active agency in establishing political and social power.

Language is a symbol, after all. One of many which we use. We all have items which we have attached value and meaning to. Sometimes these meanings cannot be symbolised in words. Only by connecting the representations can we hope to come to our fullest possible understanding of ourselves.

"Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves..."

Caroline Mogg, 'Reconstructing the Unmarried Woman in Nineteenth Century England'

Beginning as a geographer led Caroline to an interest in social history, especially women's history. While there have been studies of the women of the labouring classes, the case of the middle class women has been rather theorised in the confines of hearth and home, and related to a man's world. The single middle class woman was, and often still is, considered in many ways socially impoverished or even a threat. By adopting this 'spinster discourse', history has excluded the idea that these unmarried women may actually have seen themselves, and been seen in practical terms, as a valuable, powerful and autonomous members of society.

What are the different conceptual approaches which can be used to understand the women and to challenge the traditional construction of the unmarried women? This is the question which Caroline aims to address. Approaches to the subject have not really considered the self representation of the women in terms of their commercial correspondence, concentrating rather upon the homlier texts of diaries and letters. By doing so, we deny these women their position and identity as people of independent means.

It is also the method in which you read letters and texts that is open to debate. Reading just the texts, rather than the lines between, and the other tangible and intangible traces of the author's emotional and social world, leaves us with dry bleak history. Personally, I maintain that the use of documentary evidence is often very poor and limited. By attempting to elevate them to the status of documents of ultimate truth, we actually deny them their fullest and richest existence as subjective items. If we read them as objects, as art, as literature, in other words as other than factual, we can open doors onto whole new levels of speculation and storytelling. And in the end, isn't that what we historians do - tell stories?

The Plenary Speech

Joe Moran 'Interdisciplinarity: Problems and Possibilities'

Having graduated from a 'rather dry' first degree in history, he decided to do a masters course in English. At 1991, he ended up in Sussex, which at that time had a hugely high powered and 'glamourous' interest in theory. Moving into American Studies showed him a different model of interdisciplinarity, which was more grounded and local than the English department.

He realised that he wanted to apply this grounded approach to his own country, and while he still teaches American Studies, his publications and links have enabled him to establish thematic courses which cross the boundaries between literature, cultural theory and history.

He doesn't consider his work 'theorised' interdisciplinarity, but he does see his work as naturally eclectic. He hasn't made what you might term an intellectual commitment to the rather strange idea of a discipline of interdisciplinarity, rather, he considers himself accidentally interdisciplinary. It is just what he is.

His book, Interdisciplinarity, argues that people have used the term without really thinking about what it means. Everyone knows why it is supposed to be a good thing, being able to de-ossify established hierarchies and transcend traditional exclusions and limitations.

Wikipedia has identified 42 (yes, the ultimate number) disciplines. It is ironic that a form that has been lauded and vilified for being the ultimate in 'hodgepodge' gives such a definitions.

But what does the term actually mean?

Disciplinarity refers both to a body of practice or knowledge, a recognised mode of learning, but also control. One of the earliest referals was 'The Discipline of the Secret'. The critique of the 'disciplines' for their exclusivity and boundedness is longstanding. But the term 'interdisciplinarity' was first used in the social sciences in the 1920s.

Partly, it is related to the search for a more generalised, all inclusive way to knowledge, but it also relates to what can be known, and the methods by which it can be found. In this, it relates to epistomology. The more evangelical mode of interdisciplinarity can be used to break down these boundaries and enclaves of study.

What is studied in universities is, as ever, a political problem. In recent years there has been a backlash against interdisciplinarity's claims to be more transgressive and inventive than other modes of thought. Bill Readings, in 'The University in Ruins' challenged the grandiose claims made by many proponents of interdisciplinarity. He suggested that it could be related to the market oriented university's aims of commercial growth and the quest for a rather nebulous idea of 'excellence'. Merging departments into interdisciplinary studies is related, in a North American context, to cost cutting and university administration.

Many have been concerned that a move straight into interdisciplinary work results in over eclectisism and an intellectual free for all. However, many of these critiques recognised the potential benefits of the idea - but they also recognised it's limitations. They seemed to consider that it represented the future of intellectualism, but recognised that individuals really needed to understand those disciplines that they were crossing.

The concerns of Reading and others are now being felt outside North American. Thomas Docharty, writing in the Times Higher, claims that interdisciplinarity can be traced back to the radical 1960s assumption that disciplines were hindering, blinkered, and needed breaking down. Interestingly, interdisciplinarity has now become part of the establishment. Strange, isn't it, how that happens? The desire to break down boundaries is not always about liberation. Revolutionary ideas have been appropriated for the advantages of the cultural denziens and those in power.

Current fashions for thematic 'sandpits', and interdisciplinary partnerships, especially amoung the research council can actually be rather limiting. There is, Docherty argues, nothing wrong with disciplinarity in itself. Interdisciplinarity has been appropriated for its own sake, not because of any external value. It's hard for an individual to be 'interdisciplinary'. There's a reason for the 'artifice' of the disciplinary model.

Stanley Fish has called for literary critics to become more disciplinary. These calls are now being made by less conservative people, such as the Marxist literary critic, Terry Eagleton.

Hardly any of the students that Joe has taught had learned the same kind of literary criticism that he did. They conduct content analyses - and what gets left out is the literary element. They do not write why poets choose to write in a form where the lines do not reach to the ends of the page. Eagleton blames, not interdisciplinarity itself, as much as Capitalism. If capitalism is a place in which 'all that is solid melts into air', we need more disciplinarity.

But many of these criticisms overestimate the decline of disciplines, Joe argues. This is espeicially apparent in this country, where centralised funding and the difficulty of getting a job without being located within a discipline. League tables, Research Excellence Frameworks, reviews and performance indicators reproduce and market recognised degrees and departments - and indeed are often controlled by individual disciplines. Peer review remains the most important form of recognition. In a competition to sell degrees to the undergraduate market, and the marketability of individuals to the graduate market depends very deeply upon specific, disciplinary, almost commercially recognised characteristics.

It is true that the research, especially theoretical, of departments spans disciplines. It is true that the technological advances of the recent years and the rise in the digital humanities has served to change ideas about the boundaries of disciplines. But disciplines still exist within these.

Interdisciplinary work still needs a home. It needs a place in which to site itself so that it can truly move beyond that. If you have no identity, you cannot combine with something else without becoming that thing. Identities are what make us individuals and surely, what makes us interdisciplinary is our ability to bring together and celebrate those differences for mutual benefit, without loosing that sense of the self.

Joe has a blog here!

Cross posted from the New History Lab

"The Area Told As A Story"

Oyvind Eide 'An Inquiry into the Relationship Between Verbal and Map-Based Expressions of Geographical Information'

From the Centre for Computing for the Humanities at KCL, Oyvind has to bring in many different different disciplines to answer his questions about how people understand and represent geography and geographical identity.

The Notaricus Publicus of medieval Marseille, a document regarding land ownership, which discussed much about landscape never once used a map. The Sami used orally chanted representations of geography for spiritual and cultural means, but not as navigational devices. Why? Using theory, historical research and computer based models of the sources, Oyvind intends to investigate the reasons behind the different ways in which people have thought about the landscape and how they have represented it, and situated themselves within it.

Firstly, what is the difference between a geographical text and a geographical map? Is it connected to the semiotics, the meanings of a document, or is it to do with the methods of reading? There is some argument for both - the objects themselves might remain fixed, and their meanings might always exist, but where those meanings lie and how they are manifest is also very much to do with the audiences' engagement with it.

Given that a map is an image and a geographical text is...well, a text...Oyvind turned to a comparison of painting and poetry. The work of Lessing was key to this. What we can really learn from this is that both forms have their advantages - there are certain things that one or the other of them does not provide which the other does. It just shows you that you cannot rely on only one source of information. But he does suggest that while a text can explain all that a map can, a map cannot explain all that a text can.

One of the interesting historical points is that in many cases where landscape information is gathered, the people it is gathered from are considered valuable for their knowledge, not for their status. These sources of geographical information may be hugely varied in terms of their social status, ethnic group, type of work and geographical associations. How the information was collected is also particularly interesting - who was collecting, for what reasons and how. It is this kind of information that can perhaps be more easily expressed in a text.

Nonetheless, I do feel that there is value in maps beyond this. As cultural and historical artefacts, as symbols of social status, social conditions, as representations of belief, as art, they are extremely valuable sources. They served different uses to different people at different times. We retain many of these methods of understanding - Oyvind, interestingly, links the medieval practice of telling stories through images to modern graphic novels. Forms of understanding are not always textual, and people do not operate always in a textual manner. In terms of how people formulate their sense of self and place, no source should ever be discounted - but neither should it be taken as the only route to knowledge. As technology changes, as Google Streetview changes our ideas of the map as media, and as augmented realities arise, these questions of source differences become increasingly vital and difficult.

Applying Contemporary Criminological Theory to HIstorical Research

Amy Burrell 'Applying Contemporary Criminological Theory to Historical Research'

Visiting from the School of Psychology, Amy presents her research into serial robbery, and how you might be able to link offences together based on behavioral consistency. Interesting for the historical researcher in many ways, I would think.

A number of criminological theories are discussed. The "Opportunity Theory" is perhaps the simplest. If the opportunities occur, crime will rise. Consistency in patterns of theft and crime is clearly related to geographical and contextual contingencies. Street sex workers are more likely to be murdered than women who don't. They are available - and they make themselves so.

Routine Activity Theory builds on this, positing that there are particular situations that create those opportunities. You need a motivated offender, a suitable victim and the lack of guardianship. It also talks about awareness space - that we are more likely to see crime opportunities in the places and spaces with which we are familiar.

The Rational Choice Theory assumes that offenders are seeking benefit from their crime, portraying them as active decision makers.

The CRAVED model suggests that there has to be some kind of value to an item that might be stolen. They must be concealable, removable, available, valuable, enjoyable and disposable.

Such modes of enquiry might well be applied to gain a deeper understanding of historical actions and perhaps to establish behavioral consistency for individuals, whose roles in events around them may be subject to debate. The patterns of violence inflicted upon the 5 victims who have been officially recognised as related to Jack the Ripper, the geographical location, the time frame, and the nature of the work of the women, have all been shown to have a level of consistency which doesn't quite apply to the other possibilities, of which there were at least 13. Certain behaviors - in the case of Jack the Ripper, the removal of organs, and in the case of the Suffolk Ripper the posing of the bodies - are very rare, and can almost act like identity tags. Using the 'Consistency Hypothesis' might well be useful for establishing historical characters and identity.

These issues are pertinent not only to the historical researcher, but to the cultural heritage protection sector. Identifying the opportunities and the motivations that people may have for perpetrating crimes against cultural heritage - looting in war-torn and physically devastated areas springs to mind - and the patterns of behavior that certain individuals and organisations might exhibit, we can work to protect those items and institutions which are vulnerable, and work towards identifying the people responsible. Clearly, the motivations for crime change over time - the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in the early 20th century might well be less likely to occur now given the changed political circumstances and attitudes.

(Cross Posted from the New History Lab)

"Will the Real George Mellor Please Stand Up?"

William Marshall, 'The Depiction of West Ridding Luddism in Victorian Fiction'

In 1812, there was a rising of the Luddites in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and in 1813 there were executions. Were they political, or purely industrial in motive? They were certainly bloody. The complaints of the weavers, in response to increading industrialisation and the Napoleaonic Wars lead to machine destruction, violence and murder. These risings became mythic, and gained a great status in fiction in the 19th century - what was the motive for the persistant interest?

There was a ready made narrative, ready made characters, sitting there waiting to be molded according the the political motivations of the author. George Mellor became a great villain of Victorian fiction.

Shirley, by Charlotte Bronte, was published in 1849, was written from a middle class perspective. It was very much focussed on gender roles, and bore little relation to 'Sad Times', by Arthur Lodge, who wanted to show them as misguided, still violent, but a suffering sad group, whose living conditions were shocking, lead by unnamed leaders with wider political goals. There were many political commentaries in subsequent novels. There certainly was a lot of manipulation which went on, dependent upon the situations of the time and prevailing societal attitudes.

Particular characters usually appear in these situations. George Mellor is one of those who arose in the Luddite fictions. Under different names, perhaps, archetypes begin to appear, heroes and villains. We are always creating myths for our history - Robin Hood, the Green Man, Richard the III. We know, of course, that real people are never so one dimensional, but infrequently in such historical or political texts do people stand for people. Rather, they stand for ideas, for themes, for standpoints, for events.

It's fascinating to use literature as historical comment. I think that we fail to see the resource that it really is. We are very ready to read books as truth depending upon how it is presented - and this presentation begs the question as to the veracity of our reliance on sources deemed 'historical' and those considered 'fictional'. In a sense, all that we present is a fiction, a representation.

(Cross Posted from the New History Lab)

"It's Not Really Glamorous At All"

Gill Murray and Julie Ives 'Ordinary People and Regional Television in the Midlands'

Making use of MACE, the Media Archive for Central England, which holds one of the most comprehensive catalogues of Regional TV in the country. Both the presenters come back from different backgrounds - Gill from Urban History and Julie from the History of Art and Film.

The relationship between the audiences and makers of regional news and television is a complicated one - as it is with the newspapers. The regional calendar of local events was expected to be shown by the television. But they also needed to show what was extraordinary. The intent of this paper is to show how the companies attempted to keep the audience engaged, often by juxtaposition of the ordinary with the extraordinary.

Programmes such as Citizen 84 provide such interesting juxtapositions - weighty topics such as the comparison of life in the region in 1948 and 1984, the Data Protection Bill alongside the profile of Gerri Perry, an aspiring topless model from Birmingham. But there's something real about her, something "Not really glamorous at all". It was considered perfectly acceptable for a teatime audience - and the TV company even considers, explicitly, their role in her rise to fame. The emphasis, though, remains male. She's presented at a calendar shoot, as a sexualised object. She is presented, too, as a local phenomenon, who was heading to national stardom.

In 1986, 'Stoke in Bloom' was broadcast. This was a time of huge levels of unemployment in the old Potteries, and the documentary might be read as a morale boost for the area.

(As an aside, I'm particularly loving the spectacles in this clip!)

There's a surreal and rather sad segment in which the presenters talk to a busker dressed in a gorilla suit playing an accordian. He refuses to get involved in the 'Stoke in Bloom' celebrations, because it "Isn't worthwhile for him". There's a melancholy comment to be made here. In a programme which intended to celebrate the area, we can peer into a world of poverty and dissolusionment.

Watching these old clips is fascinating. Not only are they interesting visually, but like museum objects, there are many ways in which they can be read. By setting them in their various contexts, we can see that they take part in a wider dialogue with society. The advantage with television is, of course, that there is much contextual information available, which for many objects and resources is not the case. Exploring such items collaboratively is a way of delving deeply into the richness of these items.

Resources need to be combined. We can, of course, only ever gain a limited picture of historical activities. But we can't ever find 'truth'. Just a window onto speculation and stories. But for all that, it's a worthwhile activity. It's important that we keep these records, much as we keep myths - they are part of our identity, part of our very selves.

Using Replicant Technology as an Aid to Understanding Television History

Paul Marshall "Using replicant technology as an aid to understanding television history"

Paul Marshall is a full time engineer in the flight simulation industry and is a part time PhD student at Manchester University studying the origins of electronic television. He's a busy guy! At the end, he'd like to open some sort of museum to showcase his vintage broadcast collection.

The first use of the word 'television' was actually in 1900 - it means 'seeing into the distance', an idea which stretches back into antiquity. In a way. museums see into the distance - both past and future. Both televisions and museums allow us to see parts of the world we couldn't experience physically.

And like museums, the history of television is particularly political. Different nations and different corporations raise up different individuals as champions and originators of the medium. It's hard to find out the truth, and it's hard to find out what the precise nature of the television system used actually was. Which is where the replicant technology comes in.

From the late 1920s, we'd had an electromechanical television system. With twelve images per second, it was flickery and dim. Something else was needed.

Particularly in the US, a large amount of money began to be put into electronic television - given that this was in the time of the Great Depression, they must have been confident. In the UK, the BBC had been criticised for the original Baird System. There were two companies working on electronic television - Baird's, ironically, and EMI-Marconi. It was these systems which competed in what might be termed "The 1936 British Television Standards Competition".

This was set up by the Government. Paul shows us both the systems, on monitors from the 1970s. Baird's system of 240 lines flickers a lot more, but was a massive leap and had a number of advantages over the EMI-Marconi system. Nonetheless, EMI-Marconi was declared by the government and BBC to be the winner- they did have vested interests, and ever since then, there has been a narrative which suggests the inevitablity of this result. But need this have been the case. The EMI-Marconi system was really not as good as it was painted at the time.

Just goes to show that history very often shows only the winners.

Interestingly, electromechanical television didn't die. A company called Scophony continued to make them - but none survive. Paul would like to make one one day. Perhaps...and don't adjust your set...

What is the value of "Interdisciplinarity"?

"Interdisciplinarity", according to Rob Colls, has been somewhat misused. It isn't about falsely fixing together departments and subjects for the sake of it. It's about the way you live your life. Your life is interdisciplinary, but you don't think about it. You don't differentiate between physics and literature in day to day existence. That's how you have to come to understand it. Interdisciplinarity happens in your head, not in faculties. It's in the familiar made extraordinary. So, Rob recommends, don't talk about it, DO it.

Things to think about, I think. Come to your subject with a broad mindset. Don't ignore any possibilities. For us at the Attic, that is something vitally important, Museum Studies being what it is. We work in a medium that is interdisciplinary. We work with Natural History and Human History, and Sociology and Anthropology. And sometimes, we don't think about it - and sometimes, we think about it too much.

Blogging from the New History Lab!

We're all settled in Salisbury Road Houses just about ready to start Transcending The Boundaries. There are many to be transcended, it is sure. But I hope that we can start breaking down the boundaries today, and that we at the Attic can continue to do so!

(Cross posted from the New History Lab)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Transcending the Boundaries

Just so you all know, a number of us will be attending this wonderful event from the New History Lab tomorrow!

Promises to be a good day, and since I'm all for the interdisciplinary communication, I hope to live blog, so follow along!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Museums at Night

I'm fascinated by the concept of Museums at Night. It would be nice to see more museums around here taking part.

It is strange, you see, but different times, through lighting, temperature, feeling, create completely different characters for places. What is a bright and airy space by day can become haunted and strange at night. Strange stories hide in the cracks. Places become invisible. Objects become strange.

So perhaps, if you are near an event or able to get to one, you could go and see for yourself.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

CFP: 1st International Conference of Photography and Theory

Dr Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert, an alumna of the School of Museum Studies, has asked me to pass information about the forthcoming conference to you all. But first a word from Theopisti herself:

We are organizing the “1st International Conference of Photography and Theory: Cypriot photography in context: time, place, identity which will take place in Limassol, Cyprus on November 26th-27th 2010. The conference is organized by a group of academics and is hosted by the Cyprus University of Technology. It should be a great conference and it is the first of its kind in Cyprus. I thought some students might be interested in this.

1st International Conference of Photography and Theory
“Cypriot Photography in Context: Time, Place, Identity”

Cyprus University of Technology, Limassol, Cyprus
November 26-27th, 2010
Website: http://www.cut.ac.cy/photographyandtheory

CALL FOR PAPERS

"Cyprus Photography in Context: Time, Place, Identity" is an international conference on Cypriot photography and representations of Cyprus. It aims at investigating issues of identity, memory and power through photographic representations of Cyprus and Cypriots, revealing the history of photography in Cyprus, exploring contemporary photographic practices, as well as establishing a strong theoretical background for future research.

We invite proposals for 30-minute papers (20 min. presentation and 10 min. questions and answers) or 60-minute round-table discussions. Participants from different fields – photography, art history and theory, history, sociology, anthropology, graphic design, cultural studies, visual and media studies, fine arts, digital media – are invited to submit an abstract. These can be academic papers with a theory or research focus, historical overviews or presentations which analyze contemporary photographic practices.

Topics:
"Cypriot Photography in Context: Time, Place, Identity" will cover four main thematic areas:
• Photography and Memory
• Representing Cyprus and Cypriots
• History of photography in Cyprus
• Contemporary photographic practices in Cyprus

Some indicative themes or issues are:
• Private and public memory
• Political and ethnic memory
• Representations of conflict and crisis
• Re-collecting and re-shaping memory
• Photography and the shaping of history
• Constructing Cypriot identities
• The family album
• Travel photography and Cyprus
• Colonial photography
• Anthropological and archaeological photography
• First photo studios
• Photographic archives
• First Cypriot photographers
• International influences
• Photographic associations and their role
• Theoretical analysis of contemporary photographic work

To propose a PAPER or a ROUND-TABLE DISCUSSION, please send an electronic 400-word (excluding references) abstract along with a short CV (up to 200 words), both in English, no later than April 30th 2010 to Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert (theopisti.stylianou@cut.ac.cy) and Elena Stylianou (e.stylianou@euc.ac.cy).

The abstract should include the following information:
• Author name(s):
• E-mail address:
• Affiliation and position:
• Presentation: Paper or round-table discussion
• Title of paper/ round-table discussion:
• Abstract:

Authors will be notified of the acceptance of their proposals by June 15th 2010. Accepted authors must submit papers of between 1500-3000 words by September 15th by e-mail to Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert and Elena Stylianou. The conference proceedings, will include all papers presented and will be distributed during the conference. All proposals and papers must be in English. Round-table discussions can be in English or other language.

• Enquiries may be sent to: Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert (theopisti.stylianou@cut.ac.cy)

Instructions for papers: The guidelines for submitting a paper will be sent to each of the contributors.

Registration fees: FREE

Organisation: Department of Multimedia and Graphic Arts, Cyprus University of Technology.

Important Dates:
• Deadline for submission: April 30th, 2010
• Notification of authors: June 15th, 2010
• Deadline for registration – authors: July 15th, 2010
• Deadline for full paper submission: September 15th, 2010
• Deadline for registration – participants: October 15th, 2010
• Conference: 26 – 27 November 2010

Follow A Museum Day!

For all you Twitterers out there, February 1st is Follow a Museum Day! The directory of museums you can follow is here


Enjoy!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cambridge Classics Seminars

D-Caucus Seminars
Lent Term 2010

Tuesdays at 4.30pm Room 1.04 Faculty of Classics (Sidgwick Site), Cambridge.
All Welcome.

Two worlds colliding?: the relationships between Classics and Museums
organised by Dr Kate Cooper, Fitzwilliam Museum.

26th January Professor Robin Cormack (Courtauld Institute of Art & Faculty of Classics, Cambridge)
Perspectives from the outside: curating temporary loan exhibitions at the Royal Academy and elsewhere.

2nd February Dr Susan Walker (Keeper of Antiquities, Ashmolean Museum)
Change and flow: the new Ashmolean

9th February Dr Lucilla Burn (Keeper of Antiquities, Fitzwilliam Museum)
How do the Greek and Roman collections of the Fitzwilliam Museum and their display relate to the study of Classics?

16th February Dr Andrew Burnett (Deputy Director, The British Museum)
International issues and museums today

23rd February Dr Roger Bland (Head of the Department of Portable Antiquities and Treasure, The British Museum)
A license to loot or archaeological rescue? The Portable Antiquities Scheme in England and Wales

2nd March Dr Timothy Potts (Director, The Fitzwilliam Museum)
Museums and the preservation of archaeological heritage: past practice and future prospects


In addition. a seminar on Italian Archaeology is planned for 9th March details will be circulated later in the term.

--
Dr Kate Cooper
AHRC Research Associate
Department of Antiquities
The Fitzwilliam Museum
Trumpington Street
Cambridge CB2 1RB
Tel: 01223 764404 (direct); 01223 332900 (switchboard)
Web: www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/dept/ant/
Messages to the list are archived at http://listserv.liv.ac.uk/archives/classicists.html

NHL: publish or perish - this Friday

From the New History Lab:

'Publish or perish' might well sound like lyrics to a popular beat combo, and if you've been worried about publishing your work, then we hope that this Friday's New History Lab will be music to your ears. It's a growing imperative for postgraduate students, both research and taught-course, to publish the findings of their research. There's a biblical parable about candles and baskets (you'd not be allowed that now as it's a fire risk), which I can't quite remember. The point is there is little point finding out these wonderful historical things if you are going to hide them away in filing cabinets and notepads. 'History Today' is one of the best-selling history magazines in the UK, and Paul Lay, editor of this venerable publication, will be giving a masterclass on publishing, and will be available to answer your questions. This is a seriously good opportunity. This is the New History Lab at its most useful.

However with all this utility, there's still going to be plenty of fun too. I was, alas, not present at the last lab, as you'll have noted by the wonderful quiet in which the whole thing took place. For example no splitting headache when you got home. I had to go to Dundee for a conference. Whilst the catering was pretty good, and the discussion excellent, there was no home-made cake at this. And no pink. Shocking! I'd hoped for a slice of Dundee cake as a minimum. I knew it was a terrible mistake to have strayed thus from the confines of the Lab, and the convivial historical happiness it offers. I shan't let that happen again. I've learnt my lesson, and am returned amongst the faithful. And why wouldn't I? We've got cake, history and then the pub. What more do you want? Tiffin will be served from 4:30pm, and history begins at 5pm. All in the usual location of 1, Salisbury Road, Leicester.

Student Event: Collection Conversations

From the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum:

 

Tomorrow we are hosting our Collection Conversations event at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry. From 12.30pm – 4.00pm visitors will have the chance to meet a curator, Paul Thompson, and ask questions about our archaeology and natural history collections, as well as gain an insight into the profession. It would be a great opportunity to see unique artefacts, whilst learning more about a potential career avenue for those studying subjects related to history, science, arts and heritage. The event will be held in our What’s in Store gallery, which highlights some of the collections not featured elsewhere in the museum and is a fantastic treasure trove of artefacts.

 

The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum is located in the cultural heart of Coventry city centre, next to the historic Cathedral. Having undergone a £20 million redevelopment there's now eight permanent galleries displaying collections that bring history and the arts to life.

 

The Herbert is also home to the History Centre, media suites, shop, café and four temporary galleries, displaying large-scale touring exhibitions from around the world that change on a regular basis.

 

Entry is FREE. More information can be found on our website at www.theherbert.org.

 

 

Friday, January 22, 2010

Congratulations!

Many congratulations to Dr Anna Woodham, Dr Magnus Gestsson and Master (or should that be Mistress) Jenny Walklate, all graduating today!

CFP: Ideas of India in Britain 1857-1947

This one has a definite museum studies application:

Call for Papers
Workshop at the University of Cambridge: Ideas of India in Britain 1857-1947

Date: 14-15 May 2010

Keynotes: Dr. Tapan Raychaudhuri, Emeritus Fellow, St. Anthony’s College, Oxford and Professor Peter van der Veer, Director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen

This workshop aims to provide an interdisciplinary forum for the discussion of ideas of India in Britain between 1857 and 1947, by bringing together early-career researchers and more senior academics from different disciplines working on this crucial aspect of British intellectual history. This was not only a transformational period for British colonial attitudes to India as an imperial subject – from the trauma of ‘the Mutiny’ to the political and emotional severance of Indian independence – but it was also a period in which ideas of India more generally played a defining role in the intellectual and cultural life of Britain. Particular aspects of the theme which we hope participants’ papers will discuss include ideas of India in professional Indology, (for instance, the popularisation of Indological knowledge, and the role of Indology in the justification of imperialism); the idea of India in ‘esoteric’ spiritual movements such as Theosophy, and the struggle between Theosophists and Indologists over the authenticity of knowledge relating to India; India in British missionary thought; Indians in Britain (e.g. Syed Ahmad Khan, Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, Mohandas Gandhi); the idea of India in literary, intellectual and popular culture; and comparative studies of conceptions of India on the continent and the USA.

Papers should not exceed 30 minutes and will be followed by 15 minutes of discussion. To apply please send abstracts of not more than 500 words to the addresses given below.
The deadline for submission of abstracts is the 15th of February 2010.

Unfortunately we are unable to provide financial support towards travel or staying arrangements, however we will do our best to provide you with adequate details of how to get here and reasonable places to stay.

Please send abstracts and direct any enquiries to:
Mishka Sinha: mishka.sinha@gmail.com
Tom Green: tg245@cam.ac.uk

The Art of Murder (London, Jan-May 10)

(I'm sure this might appeal to some of the horror and Sherlock Holmes aficionados in the PhD community - you funny lot!)

Seminar in Visual Culture 2010: The Art of Murder

Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, Room ST 275 (School of Advanced Study, Stewart House, 32 Russell Square, WC1B 5DN London)

This series of seminars acts as a forum for practicing artists, researchers, curators, students, and others interested in visual culture who are invited to present, discuss and explore a given theme within the broad field of Visual Culture. In 2010, the theme of the seminar is "The Art of Murder." Artists and writers have always been fascinated with the violence of murder and the thrill and sensationalism that comes with it. Many examine it in critical, theoretical or creative forms of expression exploring the hidden fears and desires inherent in breaking the most sacred taboo, the destruction, and thereby for some the renewal, of life itself. Thomas de Quincey considered "murder as one of the fine arts", and the murderer as artist, in his eponymous satirical article from 1827. W.H. Auden calls murder "negative creation"; and like the classical rebel-poet/artist Auden's murderer is "the rebel who claims the right to be omnipotent." According to legend George Bataille dallied in a more dangerous fashion with the artistic act of murder. Today, artworks by serial killer John Wayne Gacy fetch up to $15,000 at auction. In the Washington-based Museum of Crime and Punishment one can admire art and craft made by Charles Manson and an online search will provide opportunities to purchase one of his sock puppets. Marcus Harvey's portrait of child-murderess Myra Hindley, which was created from the handprints of children, attracted much criticism, but it also drew the crowds. When crime writer Patricia Cornwell cut up a painting by Walter Sickert in her quest to prove that Sickert was Jack the Ripper, the art-world was outraged. However, whether we believe Cornwell's theory or not, Sickert's paintings suddenly acquired a new fascination. This cross-disciplinary seminar series "The Art of Murder" sets out to explore visual representations of actual murder in fine art, theatre, film and literature, as well as our relationship with artefacts and artworks created by criminals.

Participation is free and open to all, but please email me at ricarda.vidal@sas.ac.uk to reserve a seat.

Programme:

Wednesday 27 Jan. 2010, 6.30pm - 8.00pm

Ricarda Vidal, "A brief introduction to murder"
From de Quincey to Orwell and Bataille writers have been concerned with what constitutes a "good murder" and artists from antiquity to now have been concerned with how best to visualise it. This talk endeavours to give an overview of the history of our infatuation with murder and its aesthetics and thus to lay the groundwork for the various presentations in the "Art of Murder" seminar series.

Geraldine Swayne, "On Painting Murder"
I've made a lot of work about murders, not because I necessarily want to make pictures of the act but because I am interested in the atmosphere of murder scenes; the way terror distorts reality and the moment when the soul leaves the body.I became interested in murder as a child and still hold childish supernatural beliefs about murder being a crime against nature, (and hence the universe), changing murderers into monsters and turning blossom to ash. The resonance of murders, (particularly of young women), passes through me like a kind of medium. When I paint a murderer, what I am asking is: once you've killed, have you committed another murder on your own soul; and if you have, can I see it in your eyes?

Simon Bacon, "The Two Faces of the Murderous Gaze" The Dark Doubling of Sherlock Holmes and Count Dracula as Seen in "An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump" by Wright of Derby and "Triptych May-June 1973" by Francis Bacon Wright of Derby's painting was produced over a hundred years before the creation of our two protagonists and Francis Bacon's seventy years later but both example the murderous gaze implicit in their modus operandi's. Sherlock Holmes can be seen as the light of Enlightenment reason uncovering the traces and motivations of the most devious and diabolical murderers but his cold scientific gaze is not just his own; in the act of discovery he re-opens the wounds of the victim to public gaze and consideration. Dark acts are no longer discrete and individual but become public property in the light of collective scrutiny. Similarly Wright of Derby's "An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump" (1767-68) shows light being brought forth from darkness; an attentive audience is invited to watch the death-throes of an unwitting victim all in the interests of science. Dracula, even more so than Moriarty, is Holmes' "dark double". His deathly project is hidden and nefarious, guided not by intellect but emotions; his lust is for life not scientific stultification. His murders deflect the public gaze rather than wallow in it, an act that is personal rather than social. Bacon's "Triptych May-June 1973" (1973) reveals the fleshy nature of demise, solitary and engulfed in predatory shadows. The artist's brush slashes and cuts to the bone; in paint no one can hear you scream. Revealed here are the two sides of the murderous gaze one dissects the other detects. One deals in light and the other dark; one finds death in life the other life in death; I'll leave you to decide which is which.

Wednesday 24 Feb. 2010, 6.30pm - 8.00pm

Roger Cook,
Murder, Myth and Martyrdom: the Death of Pier Paolo Pasolini
Leila Peacock,
"Dis-moi ce que tu manges…" – The Cannibal's Cookbook

Wednesday 24 March 2010, 6.30pm - 8.00pm

Brittain Bright,
"The Aesthetic of the Crime Scene Photograph"
Julia Banwell,
"True Crime: Looking at Violent Death in Mexican Visual Culture"

Wednesday 26 May 2010, 6.30pm - 8.00pm

Sarah Sparkes,
"Never Afraid - Murder at Crimes Town"
Lisa Downing,
"Monochrome Mirror: Representing Dennis Nilsen"


For more information please see: http://igrs.sas.ac.uk/index.php?id=434

____________________________________________________________________

H-ARTHIST
Humanities-Net Discussion List for Art History E-Mail-Liste fuer Kunstgeschichte im H-Net

Editorial Board Contact Address / Fragen an die Redaktion:
hah-redaktion@h-net.msu.edu

Submit contributions to / Beitraege bitte an:
h-arthist@h-net.msu.edu

Homepage: http://www.arthist.net
____________________________________________________________________

Museums and the Market (Leeds, 10-11 Sept 10)

MGHG Annual Conference, Sept 10th and 11th 2010
Leeds City Museum

MUSEUMS AND THE MARKET

Ever since the historian Frank Herrmann first directed attention to the important role that the market has played in the changing fashions for collecting, in his The English as Collectors (1972) (recently republished, in 1999, by Oak Knoll Press), it has become increasingly clear that the market has been no mere ancillary factor in the history of museums and the development of their collections. A real interest has recently re-emerged in
questions of the influence of the market on how we understand, consume, interpret and value objects. These developments can be seen as a part of the drive for an ever deeper contextualisation that emerged as part of the "New Museology" in the 1980s. This "market turn", if we can suggest that such a shift in academic focus is occurring, offers the exciting prospect of a reinvestigation of the historiography of museums and their collections. In the history of nearly every museum there has been a significant engagement with the wider market structures and yet these engagements rarely feature in the interpretation of the history of the objects as we encounter them in the modern museum. Indeed, whilst relevant studies have often focused on the art market, it is increasingly clear that other markets, such as those pertaining to natural history and specimen collecting, scientific instruments and the collecting and display of archaeological artefacts, are also part of the museum's engagement with market structures. The historiography of collections illustrates this engagement, reflecting the changing relationships between curatorial interests and the wider field of consumption. It is therefore appropriate, given the current academic interest in the commercial aspects of the history of collections and the wide range of objects that museums collect, interpret and display, to look anew at the role played by commerce in museum acquisition practices. Can such an approach offer a different way of interpreting collecting and the individual objects in museum collections? Why has the role of the market often been downplayed, ignored, oreven suppressed in museums? Could an approach to interpretation that includes reference to the market help the visitor to understand why specific collections have been assembled? This conference proposal, therefore, focuses on the intersections, the formal and informal spaces where the market and the museum meet and overlap.

The conference invites papers on themes such as;

-The role of agents and dealers in the development of museum collections.

-The intersections between the market, the museum and evolving discourses; art history, the history of science and museography/museology.

-The market and its relationship to the role of patronage and philanthropy in the museum.

-The influence of the market in the history of museum practice; for example the developing influence of the blockbuster exhibition.

-The role of museums, galleries and heritage in local and national economies; for example in culturalled economic regeneration.

-The relationship between museums/heritage, the market and evolving national and international legislation; for example restrictions on the ownership, movement and circulation of cultural property, such as the Waverley Criteria.

-The relationships between museums/galleries and contemporary commodity culture.


We invite papers on a wide range of museums, galleries and collections, such as: fine art; decorative art; natural history; social history; industrial history; local history; heritage; military history; anthropology and science collections. (this list is by no means meant to be exhaustive).

We also invite session proposals which map onto the themes listed above. For example we are hoping to have a session which, due to the location of the 2010 conference, considers the history of museums and the market in Leeds, 1830-1930. Session proposals should include a brief outline of the session (300 words) as well as threeor four abstracts (300 words each) for the proposed session.

Please send a 300 word abstract for proposed papers to Dr Mark Westgarth and Dr Abigail Harrison Moore, School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT.
m.w.westgarth@leeds.ac.uk
a.l.moore@leeds.ac.uk

Closing date for papers: 1st February 2010.
____________________________________________________________________

H-ARTHIST
Humanities-Net Discussion List for Art History E-Mail-Liste fuer Kunstgeschichte im H-Net

Editorial Board Contact Address / Fragen an die Redaktion:
hah-redaktion@h-net.msu.edu

Submit contributions to / Beitraege bitte an:
h-arthist@h-net.msu.edu

Homepage: http://www.arthist.net
____________________________________________________________________

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Heritage sites on Google Street View

From today's edition of the East Anglian Daily Times:


ONE of the most historic locations in East Anglia can now be explored with the click of a mouse on Google's Street View mapping.English Heritage's most famous sites, will be available for people to explore on the site from today.Over 20 historic locations across the UK - including castles, landscapes and country houses - have been scanned using a panoramic camera, bolted to the back of a tricycle, and added to Google's online mapping service.Users can now take a 360-degree, ground-level tour of Wicken Fen, near Ely in Cambridgeshire.Other locations that have been added include Stonehenge in Amesbury, Wiltshire, Corfe Castle in Wareham, Dorset and Lindisfarne Castle in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland. Google's Street View cyclists pedalled over 125 miles on the 18-stone trike, following marked routes around the English Heritage sites to capture them from every angle.Ed Parsons, technologist at Google, said: “We were delighted to be able to open up some of the UK's most famous landmarks to the rest of the world via the web.”
Let's face it, until I pass my druid exams, this is likely to be the closest I'll ever get to Stonehenge.

To try it out, go to Google Maps, search for the location you want a closer look at and click the little orange man icon to access street view. Jen has declared it to be 'awesome!'