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.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

CFP: Commodification and Materiality

The Environment, Space, and Place Division (ESPD) seeks participants for the
Tenth Annual Cultural Studies Association Meeting, to be held at the
University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA,March 28-April 1, 2012

(1) Environmental Commodification
In keeping with the conference theme of “Culture Matters,” papers are
solicited for one session addressing “environmental commodification.” The
production of material culture necessarily engages use of the physical
environment. But especially since the environmental movement gained
popularity in the 1960s, we have seen the rise of environmental
commodification in the form of products and marketing designed to sell the
environment in the form of consumer goods, whether they be “green products”
such as hemp clothing or “natural” products (e.g. cosmetics, scented
candles, furniture) intended to make you feel you are bringing the
environment into your home. In this session, we want to critically examine
products, practices and discourses engaged in the material commodification
of the environmental at any scale and in any location.

(2) Materiality of Places
Places are socially constructed, but in many cases they are also materially
produced through architecture, landscaping, or the intentional placement of
objects. This session will look specifically about the role of
materiality—rather than the organization of space itself—in the production
of places: choices of design, manufacture, materials, textures, colors and
objects as signs used in the production of place, intentionally or
otherwise. In doing so, this panel aims to explore the role that
materiality plays in the production of place and, in turn, on social
relations and cultural understanding.

Persons interested in submitting papers for consideration in either session
should send the following:
• A 500-word abstract for your paper
• Name, email address, phone number, institutional affiliation, and
• List of audiovisual equipment needed for your presentation, if any.

All materials must be submitted by September 15, 2011.

Contact: Doug Herman, Senior Geographer, Smithsonian National Museum of the
American Indian: (202) 633-8843.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Events of Interest at Birmingham Book Festival

Many of you will be aware of my...erm...interest in books. So perhaps it is unsurprising that I'm keen to share the two following events with you. In 'All Night at the Museum' and 'Art and Writing: Launching the Barber Trail' leave me in no doubt that more and more people are realising the significant relationship between museum displays and the literary arts. In fact, it suggests that there's a huge amount of potential for cross-fertilization.

Perhaps some of you will be able to attend - 'All Night at the Museum' is on Saturday 1st October, and 'Art and Writing' on Thursday the 13th. Please, click the links and enjoy more literary fun!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Greetings from Berlin IV

The Humboldt-Forum – A Promise already Broken

Some weeks ago I did research about the “Humboldt-Forum” – a huge museum complex which will be built in 2014 right in the centre of Berlin – for an article I wrote for a magazine. I was puzzled to find out that in spite of the explicit intention of the initiators of the project to bring together Europe (embodied in the museums on the “Museum Island” nearby) and extra-European cultures, the “Museum of European Cultures” will not move from the South-West of Berlin into the Forum. Only the “Ethnological Museum” and the “Museum for Asian Art”, situated also in the South-West, will move into the Forum, together with the collections of the Humboldt-University and selected departments of the “Central and Regional Library Berlin”.

I was not able to get a satisfying explication for the exclusion of the “Museum of European Cultures” which shall move in some years instead to the “Berlin Kulturforum” at the Potsdamer Platz. But still in my view this exclusion means a crucial logical error in the whole concept. Are European and non-European cultures not two sides of the same coin? And is this not just the statement the initiators of the Forum want to make?

Yesterday I visited thus the “Humboldt-Box”, an information centre which is placed right at the location the Forum will be built at. I was eager to find out more about the concept. I want to underline that in general I favour the idea of a forum in the heart of Berlin which demonstrates its cosmopolitanism. It is time for the South-Western museums to move as their buildings are ramshackle, and visitor numbers have declined immensely since the wall came down and tourists today are visiting mainly landmarks in the city core. But looking at the displays in the Humboldt-Box my irritation grew.

At first sight nothing was to criticise. All topics picked up somehow the relationships between Germany e.g. Europe and non-European countries. How Native Americans researched artifacts stemming from their culture in the “Ethnological Museum”, how Europeans had been fascinated by porcelain produced in China, how the age pyramid looks in Germany compared to that in Mali. An open storage contained masks from the South Pacific, because such sections will show in the future the abundance of the collections and shall demonstrate that displaying an artifact in a certain setting is just one possibility out of many. An African throne was accompanied by interviews with a historian, a curator and the grandson of the king who once had owned the throne, showing diverse perspectives on the same object. So far so good. But why then I still felt uneasy?

In terms of storytelling I would express it like this: even though it was a story about Europe and Non-Europe, and even though Non-Europeans were invited to contribute a commentary, the authorship and therefore the authority strictly remained European. And, second, the presentation of the displays was nice, but in my eyes its conventional manner is not adequately expressing the status of diverse cultures coming together in countless ways in our society today. Living in a multicultural city like Berlin can be exciting, it can hurt, it can be unsettling, it can be a question an answer is not yet found for. Consequently the presentation of the artifacts should be daring. Is there no German Fred Wilson in sight?

Including the “Museum of European Cultures” would demonstrate that all cultures are considered truly as equal which would enable a dialogue at eye level. Excluding it will in my opinion reduce all well-meant efforts to lip services.

But there is another logical error in the concept which bothers me. The Humboldt-Forum will be situated in a reconstruction of the Prussian castle which stood at this site for five centuries. This is due to the history of this highly political and conflictual project as first there was the wish to rebuild the castle (which was demolished in 1950 from the GDR-government) and then the idea was developed to move in the Extra-European collections. But how comprehensible this will be for a visitor, let’s say, from Kenya intending to look at artefacts from Africa, finding them wrapped in a building looking like a Prussian castle? I imagine myself standing in front of a museum about the French-German relationships in Paris which’ façade is decorated with a huge picture of Napoleon. Well…

I am realistic. The castle will be built, the architect is chosen, the design accepted. All the more it will be important that this golden cage will present the objects not as tame creatures but as wild animals, restless and in motion.

CFP: History, Memory, Performance



Organized by

the Department of Theatre, University of Ottawa and

the Carleton Centre for Public History, Carleton University

19-21 April 2012, University of Ottawa,

Ottawa, Ontario (canada)


“History – the past transformed into words or paint or dance or play – is always a performance” (Greg Dening, “Performing on the Beaches of the Mind: An Essay”).

In the context of Paul Ricoeur’s work on the conjunctions of history, memory, and the production of narrative (La Mémoire, l’histoire, l’oubli, 2000), and heeding the invitation of Hayden White (and others) to re-think traditional understandings of historical writing and interpretation, historians such as Greg Dening have argued that historical representation, in whatever form it takes, is a performative act. At the same time, theatre scholars such as Freddie Rokem have explored the relationship between theatrical energies and performing history on stage. At the intersection of such work is the idea that theatre itself becomes a witness to history being made, a notion present in the concept of memory and the processes of remembering and forgetting. This international, interdisciplinary conference explores themes relating to history, memory and performance. We hope it will generate discussions about how historical meaning is created in the theatre and how theatrical performances shape our understanding of the past...

For more information, click the link

Museum Architecture in Alberta

The government of my home province, Alberta (Canada), has coughed up some money and a site to build a new building for the provincial museum (Royal Alberta Museum). The whole process has been less than uncontroversial - there were plans to turn it into a solely natural history museum, with social history relegated to a smaller site; for Albertans like me, who already disagree with our provincial image as being back-country farmers and rig-pigs, this was deeply unsatisfying. But at least we are getting a shiny new building, right? At least the government that cuts education and healthcare and thinks that "non-profit organizations" are mythological, is investing some money in the arts and culture... right?

Well, kind of. You see, there was a very short process for tenders to design and build the new museum. And now, there is an even shorter deadline to vote on the four shortlisted candidates. We have until Wednesday, August 24th, to comment on the designs.

Some names associated with the proposals are familiar, if somewhat jarring. EllisDon, best known around here for ugly office towers for oil-industry corporate headquarters, is partnering with renowned museum designers HaleySharpe (who often partner with our Department). Other I personally have never heard of, which isn't necessarily meaningful.

This is an important building, not just for its contents, but because it also has the potential to enliven (or otherwise) a crucial area of downtown Edmonton. There has been concern about the haste with which these designs have been prepared, and with the nature of the proposals themselves (e.g. too disconnected from local neighbourhoods). If you know anything about the Alberta government and it's penchant for handing out cash and making decisions just before an election, you will understand the context better. You can see what Edmontonians are sayinghere and here.

The Alberta government has created a website to take public comments (comments that it says it will consider). Do take a look, and comment there and here. Remember, this isn't just a regional museum; it's in the provincial capital, and tells the story of its place and people for locals and visitors. If you were to come to Canada to visit me (highly recommended, BTW), which building would you want to visit? Are any of them worthy of the Royal appellation and Provincial status?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Museum of Broken Relationships

Those of you who attended Curiouser and Curiouser, or who followed Museobunny's blog, might well remember 'The Museum Of Broken Relationships' and our friends Darko Babic and Zeljika Miklosevic. Well, you'll be pleased to know that the Museum has opened it's doors in London! It began yesterday, and will run until the 4th September in Covent Garden.

For more, point your mouse in the direction of Love's Labour's Lost

If you want to hear Museobunny's thoughts on the subject again, then point it towards Institution for Mass Psychotherapy

Good luck to the museum! I hope it all goes well in London.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

CFP: Great Exhibitions in the Margins, 1851-1938

Great Exhibitions in the Margins, 1851 - 1938 University of Wolverhampton,
26-27 April 2012

Research has for a long time focused on world fairs, great exhibitions or
expositions universelles in the capitals of Europe and in the large cities
of the USA. Their crucial role in communicating ideas about the identities
of the exhibiting nations (and their relation to other cultures) and in
showcasing contemporary art and design has been examined in detail.
However, in the heyday of these spectacular events - in the second half of
the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century - smaller
cities and regional centres, such as Liege, Poznan, Edinburgh or
Wolverhampton, staged their own 'great exhibitions' modelled on those held
in the national (or imperial) centres. Their goals, although executed on a
more modest scale, were often the same and involved the promotion and sale
of goods but also communication of ideas, ideologies and identities. These
smaller shows usually had large ambitions and tried to engage not only the
local population but also national and international audiences and

This symposium turns attention to the exhibitions of arts and industries
in the regions outside the capitals and to the assumptions that lay behind
them. Its main focus will be placed on their ambitions, originality,
relationship to the ��greater�� exhibitions and, in particular,
their engagement with visual culture. The questions explored may include:

- what ambitions motivated the idea of staging an exhibition in the
particular location and what were its objectives

- what was the long-term impact of the show on the region, nationally
and internationally

- how were the arts displayed at the exhibition and what role they

- what specific influence did exhibitions like the Great Exhibition or
Expositions Universelles in Paris have on the exhibitions in the margins?

The symposium encourages an inter-disciplinary approach to the topic and
papers are therefore welcome from scholars in a wide range of disciplines,
including the history of art and design, history, politics, anthropology,
ethnography, cultural studies etc. A network of researchers interested in
the subject of exhibition cultures will be created through the symposium
as further academic activities on the theme are planned (a publication and
a research network). News about the symposium and the research network
will be posted at

Please send your paper proposals of up to 250 words to Dr. Marta Filipova
at by 1
November 2011.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

CFP: Culture Matters

Open for Proposal Submissions: 1 August, 2011

*Deadline for Proposals: 19 September, 2011*

*Conference Registration Opens: September, 2011*

The Cultural Studies Association (CSA) invites participation in its tenth
annual conference. This year’s theme, “Culture Matters,” calls for proposals
that critically and creatively reflect on culture and “the material” broadly
conceived. How do we theorize the relationship between culture and
materiality? In what ways might interdisciplinary formations such as ethnic
studies, critical gender studies, queer theory, indigenous studies, and new
media studies challenge or redefine notions of the material? How should
cultural critics understand the material in relationship to the immaterial?
What are the cultural-material aspects of knowledge production both inside
and outside the university? How does culture become a material force and how
can cultural critics and producers intervene in or transform institutions
and material practices? In short, what do materialist cultural studies
projects look like now and what forms should they take in the future?

We welcome proposals from all areas and on all topics of relevance to
cultural studies, including but not limited to literature, history,
sociology, geography, politics, anthropology, communications, popular
culture, cultural theory, queer studies, ethnic studies, indigenous studies,
feminist studies, postcolonial studies, legal studies, science studies,
media and film studies, material culture studies, visual art and performance

While the program committee accepts individual presentation proposals, we
especially encourage submissions of pre-constituted sessions. We also invite
proposals that engage with this conference location and its many resources.

All conference formats – papers, panels, roundtables, workshops, and
seminars – are intended to encourage the presentation and discussion of
projects at different stages of development and to foster intellectual
exchange and collaboration. Please feel free to adapt the suggested formats
or propose others in order to suit your session’s goals. If you have any
questions, please address them

All of the conference formats will be 105 minutes in length.

The conference has a finite set of resources available in terms of space and
technology. In your proposal, you can request specific space and technical
accommodations, including audio-visual equipment such as video/data
projectors and DVD/VCR combo players. You will be asked to provide a short
justification for your request in terms of the goals and format of your
session. Requests will be evaluated in terms of these justifications and
available resources.

Submission Deadline
and Process

You may begin submitting proposals on August 1, 2011. The CSA administers
submissions electronically. Please prepare all the materials required to
propose your session according to the given directions before you begin
electronic submission. We recommend saving a copy of this information in a
rich or plain text document--not an MS Word document. You will be asked to
enter the information into the fields provided (you may choose to cut and

The Program Committee will send final notifications regarding session
proposals no later than 5 December 2011.


Conference registration opens September, 2011. In order to be listed in the
program, conference registration – which includes
the CSA – must be completed online before 27 February 2012. All program
information – names, presentation titles, and institutional affiliations –
will be based on initial conference submissions.
Conference Formats


Pre-constituted panels allow a team of 3-4 individuals to present their
research, work, and/or experiences, leaving 30-45 minutes of the session for
questions and discussion. Panels should include 3-4 participants. Proposals
for pre-constituted panels should include: the title of the panel; the name,
title, affiliation, and contact information of the panel organizer; the
names, titles, affiliations, and email addresses of all panelists, and a
chair and/or discussant; a description of the panel's topic (<500 words);
and abstracts for each presentation (<150 words). Pre-constituted panels are
preferred to individual paper submissions.


Successful papers will reach several constituencies of the organization and
will connect analysis to social, political, economic, or ethical questions.
Proposals for papers should include: the title of the paper; the name,
title, affiliation, and email address of the author; and an abstract of the
20 minute paper (<500 words).


Roundtables allow a group of participants to convene with the goal of
generating discussion around a shared concern. In contrast to panels,
roundtables typically involve shorter position or dialogue statements (5-10
minutes) in response to questions distributed in advance by the organizer.
The majority of roundtable sessions should be devoted to discussion.
Roundtables are limited to no more than five participants, including the
organizer. We encourage roundtables involving participants from different
institutions, centers, and organizations. Proposals for roundtables should
include: the title of the roundtable; the name, title, affiliation, and
contact information of the roundtable organizer; the names, titles,
affiliations, and email addresses of the proposed roundtable participants;
and a description of the position statements, questions, or debates that
will be under discussion (<500 words).


Workshops allow a facilitator or facilitating team to set an agenda, pose
opening questions, and/or organize hands-on participant activities. The
facilitator or team is responsible for gathering responses and results from
participants and helping everyone digest them. Proposals for workshops
should include: the title of the workshop; the name, title, affiliation, and
contact information of the (lead) facilitator and of any co-facilitators; a
description of the activities to be undertaken (<500 words). Please also
include a description of space requirements, if appropriate.


Seminars are small-group (maximum 15 individuals) discussion sessions for
which participants prepare in advance of the conference. In previous years,
preparation has involved shared readings, pre-circulated ''position papers''
by seminar leaders and/or participants, and other forms of pre-conference
collaboration. We particularly invite proposals for seminars designed to
advance emerging lines of inquiry and research/teaching initiatives within
cultural studies broadly construed. We also invite seminars designed to
generate future collaborations among conference attendees. Once a limited
number of seminar topics and leaders are chosen, the seminars will be
announced through the CSA's various public e-mail lists. Participants will
contact the seminar leader(s) directly who will then inform the Program
Committee who will participate in the seminar. Seminars will be marked in
the conference programs as either closed to non-participants or open to
other conference attendees as auditors (or in other roles).

A limited number of seminars will be selected by the program committee, with
a call for participation announced on the CSA webpage and listserv no later
than 10 October 2011. Interested parties will apply directly to the seminar
leader(s) for admission to the session by 14 November 2011. Seminar
leader(s) will be responsible for providing the program committee with a
confirmed list of participants (names, titles, affiliations, and email
addresses required) for inclusion in the conference program no later than 21
November 2011.

Please note: To run at the conference, seminars must garner a minimum of 8
participants, in addition to the seminar leader(s). Proposals for seminars
should include: the title of the seminar; the name, title, affiliation, and
contact information of the seminar leader/team members; and a description of
the issues and questions that will be raised in discussion, along with a
description of the work to be completed by participants in advance of the
seminar (<500 words). Examples of successful seminar descriptions are
available on the conference website. Individuals interested in participating
in (rather than leading) a seminar should consult the list of seminars and
the instructions for signing up for them, available at conference website
after 10 October 2011. Please direct questions about seminars to S.
Charusheela .


Please see the list of CSA
All divisions have two sessions at their command. Divisions may elect to
post calls on the CSA site for papers and procedures for submission to
division sessions or handle the creation of their two division sessions by
other means. Division chairs will submit their two sessions, including the
appropriate information as listed above, to the conference website. They
should also email their two sessions directly to the CSA’s “division
wrangler” – Bruce Burgett – by 19 September 2011.


We invite people to volunteer to chair panels. To do so please submit your
name, title, affiliation, and email address, as well as a brief list of your
research interests through the conference website.

Chair a panel (not yet open)

CFP: Textiles and Politics


Textiles and Politics
Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium

Sept 19-22, 2012, Washington DC

Abstracts Due: October 1, 2011

The Textile Society of America invites paper proposals for its upcoming
symposium, Textiles & Politics, to be held in Washington, D.C. September
19-22, 2012. We seek presentations from all textile-related disciplines and
interdisciplinary areas, including but not limited to anthropology, art, art
history, conservation, cultural geography, design, economics, ethnic
studies, history, linguistics, marketing, mathematics, political science,
and theater. TSA encourages both organized sessions and individual papers
from scholars, researchers, artists, gallery and museum professionals, and
others from around the world. Symposium proceedings will be published early
in 2013.

The theme of Textiles & Politics befits the symposium venue in the U.S.
capital and will generate a lively discussion about the ways politics
influence the aesthetics, production, materials, uses, and myriad other
aspects of textiles.

For further information about the 2012 symposium, TSA membership, and to
submit a proposal, please visit:

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Save the Date!

Museum Utopias, the next student conference, will take place at the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester on March 27 and 28, 2012. Stay tuned for the Call for Papers here and at Museobunny's Burrow.

Pirates Study Day at the Museum of London Docklands

We here at the Attic like to get behind things like this!

The Pirates Study Day at the Museum of London Docklands will delve deeper into our exhibition 'Pirates: the Captain Kidd Story' as leading academics, including Angus Konstam and Dr Jo Stanley, discuss the history and cultural resonance of pirates and piracy.

Pirates Study Day @ Museum of London Docklands
Delve deeper into our exhibition 'Pirates: the Captain Kidd Story' as leading academics including Angus Konstam and Dr Jo Stanley discuss the history and cultural resonance of pirates and piracy.
Speakers and their subjects:
Dr Jo Stanley on Women pirates
E.T. Fox on Henry Every: The King of the Pirates and History's Biggest Manhunt
Dr David Cordingly on Pirate life and death
Angus Konstam on Blackbeard: A Study in Notoriety.
Dr Tom Wareham, Lead Curator of 'Pirates: the Captain Kidd Story' on Captain Kidd's Big Idea - or what really happened on the Adventure Galley.
Hilary Davidson, Curator of 'Pirates: The Captain Kidd Story' on Pirate Myth.
Ticket price covers tea and coffee and entrance to the exhibition.
Fee £20 (concs £15): advanced booking required 020 7001 9844
Dates & times
Saturday, 24 September, 10.30 - 17.00