Enchanted Edwardians: Registration Now Open!

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Registration for our third annual conference, ‘Enchanted Edwardians’, to be held at the University of Bristol on March 30th-31st, has now opened! Tickets cost £12.00 and can be purchased here. A draft schedule will be posted shortly.

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Edwardian culture is filled with otherworldly encounters: from Rat and Mole’s meeting with Pan on the riverbank in Wind in the Willows (1908), to Lionel Wallace’s glimpse of an enchanted garden beyond the green door in H. G. Well’s short story The Door in the Wall (1911). In art, Charles Conder’s painted fans evoked an exotic arcadia, whilst the music of Edward Elgar and Frederick Delius conjured up nostalgic dreamlands.

Such encounters are all the more powerful because of their briefness: the sense that enchantment is, as Kipling suggests in Puck of Pook’s Hill, fast becoming a thing of the past. What room was left for fantasy in the modern, scientifically advanced world of the early twentieth century? This conference seeks to explore this question, and to investigate other ways in which the Edwardians understood and employed the idea of the enchanted, the haunted and the supernatural.

‘Enchanted Edwardians’ is the third annual conference of the Edwardian culture network, and is organized by Bristol postgraduate students in partnership with the ECN. Held across two days at the University of Bristol, this inter-disciplinary event is open to postgraduate researchers and academics at any stage of their career.

Ten Edwardian Paintings from the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

As we at the ECN are frequently keen to point out, the Public Catalogue Foundation and BBC Your Paintings have done an amazing job at bringing Edwardian paintings back into the public consciousness. Over the course of this year we intend to put the spotlight on specific collections, and to select a group of ten Edwardian (or near-Edwardian) paintings from that collection.

We start with one of the many galleries that opened during the Edwardian Era. The Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum in Bournemouth was founded by Sir Merton (1835–1921) and Lady (1835–1920) Russell-Cotes on Bournemouth’s East Cliff. Commissioned in 1897, the building was completed in 1901 and officially opened in 1907. Continue reading

From Bradford to Benares: William Rothenstein in Context

'The Browning Readers' by William Rothenstein, 1900

‘The Browning Readers’ by William Rothenstein, 1900

‘The recent memorial exhibition at the Tate Gallery of works by the late Sir William Rothenstein, held five years after his death, poses a problem that can no longer be avoided. Where exactly does Rothenstein stand in the account of English painting of the first quarter of this century?’ (Home Affairs Survey, August 15th 1950)

On March 14th, The Cartwright Hall Gallery in Bradford will hold a one-day symposium dedicated to the life and work of the artist Sir William Rothenstein (1872-1945), coinciding with the first major exhibition of his work since 1972. The discussion will focus on the question posed above: Where does Rothenstein fit within the narrative/s of late nineteenth and early twentieth century art?

Particular attention will be paid to a series of important cultural encounters that changed the direction of the artist’s life and work. These include: his early training in Paris, turn-of-the-century visits to Spain and Germany, years spent painting in the Jewish East End, his 1910 trip to India, interwar years living in rural Gloucestershire, experiences as a war artist in two World Wars, and his ongoing, sometimes fraught relationship with his home city, Bradford. Although Rothenstein’s life ‘beyond the easel’ will also be discussed (including his roles as critic, collector, patron, gallery-founder and professor), the main aim of the discussion, like the exhibition, will be to put the spotlight on his achievements as a painter, draughtsman and print-maker. Continue reading

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays from the Edwardian Culture Network! Thanks to all those who attended our two conferences this year, at the Universities of Liverpool and Keele. We look forward to meeting many of you at next year’s conference ‘Enchanted Edwardians’ in Bristol!

CFP: Elizabeth Von Arnim Conference

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This conference – held on 13th September 2015 – will re-evaluate the writing of Elizabeth von Arnim (1866-1941). Von Arnim’s complex, intelligent and witty novels were critically acclaimed and immensely popular during her lifetime, but until recently they have received little academic attention. This conference aims to shed fresh light on the contemporary contexts of von Arnim’s work and the literary hierarchies and values that have shaped her reputation.

Papers are invited on all aspects of von Arnim’s work and career. Suggested topics include:

  • Contexts: understanding von Arnim’s writing in the context of the fin de siècle, the New Woman, middlebrow, modernism, World War 1 and 2, and women’s writing.
  • Literary relationships with other writers such as E. M. Forster, Hugh Walpole, Katherine Mansfield, H. G. Wells and Frank Swinnerton.
  • Intertexts: tracing the influences of writers such as the Brontes and Jane Austen.
  • Forms: gardening, diary and epistolary novels; music; adaptation for film, theatre.
  • International perspective: the importance of Switzerland, France, Germany and the USA in her writing and career.

Proposals of 400 words for 20-minute papers should be sent to countessrussell@gmail.com. The deadline is 20th February 2015.

Conference organisers: Erica Brown (Sheffield Hallam University), Isobel Maddison (Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge University) and Jennifer Walker (Independent Scholar).

The conference will be held at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge University, UK. The conference website can be found here.

Event: The End of Empire: Women Artists in Britain and Russia, 1880-1917

Elena Polenova, "Wall Cabinet", c.1880-1890 (V & A)

Elena Polenova, “Wall Cabinet”, c.1880-1890 (V & A)

Art, Craft, and the Fin-de-siecle: Britain and Russia (Part 2)

The End of Empire: Women Artists in Britain and Russia, 1880-1917
Friday, 9 January 2015
Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

In the second half of the 19th century women became dominant players in the art scene in both Britain and Russia. At the turn of 19-20 centuries women in both countries became prominent as progressive sculptors, applied artists and painters. Women’s patronage of the arts was also especially strong at the time – they opened art schools and studios as well as art academies and galleries.

Our conference will look at the aspects of women’s artistic practice in Britain and in Russia at the fin-de-siècle. It has been inspired by the exhibition ‘A Russian Fairy-Tale: The Art and Craft of Elena Polenova’ (Watts Gallery, 15 November 2014 – 8 February 2015), which intends to draw attention to the important role played by women in rural areas within the Arts and Crafts Movement and also as educators and agents of social change. Mary Seton Watts (1849-1938), the second wife of British artist G.F. Watts, and Elena Polenova (1850-1898), the younger sister of Russian artist Vasily Polenov, were almost exact contemporaries. Both women trained as painters, but became leading artists of the Arts and Crafts Movement in their respective countries. Each woman also coupled her artistic talents with a desire to bring about dramatic and lasting transformations in their local communities. Continue reading

Resource: BRANCH – Britain, Representation, and Nineteenth-Century History

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Edwardian scholars may be interested in the following web-based resource, edited by Dino Franco Felluga:

BRANCH, which is intertwined with Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net, provides users with a free, expansive, searchable, reliable, peer-reviewed, copy-edited, easy-to-use overview of the period 1775-1925.  Unlike dry chronologies that simply list dates with minimal information about the many noteworthy events of a given year, BRANCH offers a compilation of a myriad of short articles on not only high politics and military history but also “low” or quotidian histories (architecture design, commercial history, marginal figures of note, and so on).  Since no one scholar could hope to provide a complete overview of an entire century of British society, BRANCH compiles material from a host of scholars working on all facets of the British nineteenth century.  Authors come from History, Art History, and English departments across the world. The site differs from wikipedia in so far as all articles have undergone peer review, copy-editing, and proofing.  Each article also seeks to interpret the events being discussed.  Indeed, many events are discussed by more than one scholar.

Thanks to its site structure, BRANCH offers users an innovative approach to history itself, suggesting that any given bit of historical information can branch outward in often surprising directions. Rather than provide a linear timeline of history from the perspective of the victors, BRANCH wishes provide a history that comes closer to what Walter Benjamin famously termed jetztzeit or “the time of the now,” an impacted history that explores the messy uncertainties and possibilities of any given historical moment.

See more here.