CFP: ‘To show a foreigner England’: Englishness and the Edwardian Landscape

The Blue Pool, 1911 (oil on panel), John, Augustus Edwin (1878-1961) © The estate of Augustus John. Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum, Scotland / Bridgeman Images.

The Blue Pool, 1911 (oil on panel), John, Augustus Edwin (1878-1961) © The estate of Augustus John. Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum, Scotland / Bridgeman Images.

In 2016, the Edwardian Culture Network will take a break from its annual two-day conference. We are nevertheless very excited to be working with the Royal West of England Academy on the following one-day event. N.B. This call for papers is open to those currently working on a postgraduate qualification, or to those who finished their PhD after 2012:

CFP: ‘To show a foreigner England’: Englishness and the Edwardian Landscape

Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, April 11th 2016.

This one-day symposium – coinciding with the exhibition Inquisitive Eyes: Slade Painters in Edwardian Wessex – takes as its starting point the following quotation from E.M. Forster’s novel Howard’s End (1910):

If one wanted to show a foreigner England, perhaps the wisest course would be to take him to the final section of the Purbeck Hills, and stand him on their summit, a few miles to the east of Corfe. Then system after system of our island would roll together under his feet.

Forster’s comment suggests that the rolling hills of the South West should be taken as a synecdoche for England. Taking our cues from this idea – but expanding the discussion to include other regions also – we will address a range of important questions: where was Englishness located at the turn of the century, and why? What made a landscape especially English, or distinctly not-English? What role did artist’s colonies play in understanding and promoting particular landscapes in the national consciousness? How important was landscape to the development of modern art in England? How was the English landscape marketed to audiences outside England, especially the wider Empire? Finally, how did depictions of the landscape by writers such as Thomas Hardy affect visual artists?

Although many of the questions raised by the exhibition are art-historical in nature, we welcome speakers and participants from other disciplines, including literature, cultural geography and history. We have already identified and contacted a small group of established academics, who have agreed to take part in our discussions. These include figures who have written widely on the subject,  some of whom contributed to the 2002 publication Geographies of Englishness: Landscape and the National Past, the influence of which we wish to acknowledge. In the thirteen years since this publication, however, research into early twentieth-century British art, national identity and Empire has expanded greatly, and new thinkers have entered the field. To this end, three-four graduate/early-career researchers will be selected to speak at the symposium. To be eligible, you must be currently working on an MA or PhD, or have completed a PhD after 2012. Speakers will receive a £100 grant to support travel and accommodation. To apply, please send a 300 word proposal, along with a one-page CV, to edwardianculture@hotmail.co.uk by January 16th.

This event has been generously supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and will be hosted by the Royal West of England Academy.

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