Blake Awakes: Reinvention, Revival and Rylands Collections

Blake Awakes: Reinvention, Revival and Rylands Collections, 1 May, 1-5pm

The Christie Room, The John Rylands Library, Manchester
This workshop will explore some of the ways in which the artistic vision of William Blake has been reimagined and reinvented in British art and culture, with a special focus on material held at the John Rylands Library.
Hosted by the John Rylands Research Institute, the event builds on previous Blake projects at the John Rylands Library, including the exhibition Burning Bright: William Blake and the Art and Craft of the Book, which explored Blake’s own work as a commercial engraver, and his legacy in the world of the book in the century after his death.
This workshop spotlights other themes relating to Blake and his legacy in material held at the John Rylands Library as part of continuing efforts to unlock Blakean materials in the collections. Topics include Blake himself as a re-inventor in his designs for Edward Young’s Night Thoughts (1795-97); reinventing Blake’s Songs in editions of the poems held in Rylands collections; and Blake and counter-culture, represented in modern literary archives held at the Library.
The event is free to attend, and open to all. Booking is essential as places are limited.
This event is funded by the John Rylands Research Institute.
1-1.15: Introduction (Christie Room)
1.15-2.15: 3 x 15 minute papers + discussion (Christie Room)
  • Lusia Calé (Birkbeck, University of London), ‘Disbound, Encircled, Unrolled: Physical and Metaphorical Materialities of the Book in Blake’s Night Thoughts’
  • Colin Trodd (University of Manchester), ‘Codifying Vision:James Smetham’s Monuments to William Blake’
  • Sarah Haggarty (University of Cambridge), ‘Blake’s namby-pamby? Responses in the Rylands Library to the childlikeness of Songs’
2.15-3.30: Collections Session (Bible Room) / Tea and Coffee Break (Christie Room)
The group will be split in half for refreshments and the collections session; the two groups will swap between the activities at 2.50. A virtual tour of William Blake’s Cottage and other materials will be available to view during the break.
3.30-4.45: 3 x 15 minute papers + discussion (Christie Room)
  • David Hopkins (University of Glasgow), ‘The Impact of Machines’: Blake, British Surrealism and the Machine’
  • Douglas Field (Blake & Counter-Culture), ‘Transatlantic Visions: William Blake, Allen Ginsberg and Michael Horovitz’
  • Jason Whittaker (University of Lincoln), ‘Here be Tygers: from composite art to sequential art’
4.45-5: Closing discussion (Christie Room)



CfP: Character to Caricature, 1660-1850

Hogarth - Characters and Caricaturas

William Hogarth, Characters and Caricaturas (1743)

Deidre Lynch’s The Economy of Character (1998) emphasises the cultural capital of figures who are larger than life. ‘Character to Caricature’ aims to build upon Lynch’s transmedia conception to explore the wider narratological and satirical implications of character in the eighteenth century. This conference brings together those working on different conceptualisations of character in the period to ask questions such as: Why were character types so popular in the period? How did the ‘types’ transfer across genres and mediums of print? What can the differing ‘types’ and their interactions with one another tell us about attitudes in the period? We invite papers which look at any aspect of this topic, including: the creation of ‘stock-figures’ such as fops, nabobs, mollies, the Scot and the English John Bull; the use of characters types in dictating and shaping acceptable modes of conduct; the relationship between linguistic configurations of character and visual depictions of caricature; and the significance of character types in relation to the social and political climate of the period.

We invite abstracts of no more than 250 words, for 20 minute papers. We welcome proposals for panels as well as ideas for alternative format sessions.

Please email abstracts, along with a short bio to by 18.05.2018

Illustration Studies Seminar – 8 December

On Thursday, 8 December, Mary Shannon (Roehampton), Julia Thomas (Cardiff) and Luisa Calè (Birkbeck) will discuss their recent work on nineteenth-century illustration as part of the Nineteenth-Century Studies Seminar series at the Institute of English Studies, Senate House, London.

Mary Shannon – ‘Illustration on London’s “Artists Street” 1800-1820’

Julia Thomas – ‘Reading Victorian illustration: word, image, digital’

Luisa Calè – ‘A Dream of Thiralatha: promiscuous book gatherings, and the wanderings of Blake’s separate plates’

The seminar begins at 17:30 and ends at 19:30, and will be held in Room G7, ground floor, Senate House. To book a (free) place, visit the IES website.

19th-Century Women Writers on the Old Masters

Knowing ‘as much art as the cat’: 19th-Century Women Writers on the Old Masters

The Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies will host a major conference examining the role of English-speaking women as disseminators of knowledge about Old Master paintings and historic painting techniques during the Victorian era on Friday, 10 November at 10am in the Sainsbury Wing Lecture Theatre, National Gallery.

Aims and Scope:
John Ruskin infamously dismissed the art historian Anna Jameson as knowing ‘as much of art as the cat’. However, in recent years there has been an upsurge of interest in women like Jameson as influential interpreters of the visual arts and as writers of art history during the formative years of the discipline. This conference, which capitalises and expands upon this interest, will look afresh at the role of English-speaking women as disseminators of knowledge about Old Master paintings and historic painting techniques during the Victorian era.
While the National Gallery’s first Director, Charles Eastlake, and his male colleagues produced scholarly publications, including museum catalogues, aimed at professionals and connoisseurs, women in his circle and in the following generations typically had a wider reach. They could – and did – speak to specialists, but many chose to disseminate information in more creative and demotic ways. Mary Merrifield, for instance, wrote on historic painting techniques and also published articles about women’s fashion, in which she used the Old Masters as a sartorial guide, illustrating her points with pictures from the National Gallery’s collection.
Among the research questions the conference speakers will engage with are: What was the contribution of British women writers to the emerging discipline of art history, including canon formation, formal criticism and history of techniques and other genres such as exhibition guides and translations? Is there anything distinctive about women’s approach to these fields? A second set of issues we will address concerns women’s networks and relationships – between sexes, between generations, and with professional counterparts abroad  – as well as exploring women writers’ institutional affiliations. Finally, we hope to see new insights emerging at the conference about the reception of women writers’ published work in art history, not least in relation to its reach and audiences and its critical fortune.

London Nineteenth-Century Studies Seminar

The Autumn programme of the London Nineteenth-Century Studies Seminar features two sessions of interest to scholars of illustration:


3rd November: Historical Fiction

Dr Brian H Murray (King’s College London) and Prof. Rosemary Mitchell (Leeds Trinity)


8th December: Nineteenth-Century Illustration

Prof. Julia Thomas (Cardiff) and Dr Mary Shannon (Roehampton)


Information, including details of how to book, are available on the Institute of English Studies website.

CfP: Blocks Plates Stones

BLOCKS PLATES STONES: Matrices/Printing Surfaces in Research and Collections
21 September 2017, Senate House, London (reception at British Academy)
Deadline: 30 June 2017, via
Convenor: Dr Elizabeth Savage (Institute of English Studies)


Dr Richard S Field (Yale), Prof James Mosley (Institute of English Studies), Dr 
Ad Stijnman (Leiden), Prof Michael Twyman (Reading)

The material turn in fields that rely on historical printed matter has led to interest in how those texts and images were—and are—produced. Those objects, including cut woodblocks, etched and engraved metal plates, and lithographic stones, could be fundamental to research. Tens of thousands survive from the last 500 years, but the vast majority are inaccessible because they do not fit into the cataloguing structures and controlled vocabularies used by the libraries, archives and museums that hold them. Those that are accessible tend to be under-used, as few researchers are equipped to understand them or communicate about them across disciplinary boundaries. Even the most basic term is debated: in book research, a matrix is the mould for casting pieces of type; in art research, each resulting type is a matrix (and the sheets printed from them are the multiples). As new possibilities to catalogue and digitise these artefacts are revealing their research potential, it is essential to establish how they can best be made available and how they can be used in research.

This deeply interdisciplinary conference will survey the state of research into cut woodblocks, intaglio plates, lithographic stones, and other matrices/printing surfaces. It will bring together researchers, curators, librarians, printers, printmakers, cataloguers, conservators, digital humanities practitioners, and others who care for or seek to understand these objects. The discussion will encompass all media and techniques, from the fifteenth century through the present. Please submit abstracts for papers (20 minutes) and posters (A1 portrait/vertical) by 30 June 2017 at

This event is part of a 12-month British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award, ‘The Matrix Reloaded: Establishing Cataloguing and Research Guidelines for Artefacts of Printing Images’, The discussions will support the creation of a research network to distil a single, interdisciplinary best practice from existing standards across disciplines and heritage collections and produce a program to train researchers to engage with matrices/printing surfaces.

CfP: Art of Power

A new, collaborative exhibition, ‘The Art of Power: Masterpieces from the Bute Collection’, will open on 31 March at two venues: Mount Stuart, on the Isle of Bute, and The Hunterian, Glasgow. The exhibition shows a number of masterpieces from the collecti


John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute

on of John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713-92), and runs at both venues until 14 January 2018.

Paper proposals are invited for a three-day symposium inspired by themes explored in the exhibition. In addition to the interplay between art, politics and collecting, possible themes include (but are not limited to):

  • Aristocratic and royal collecting
  • Scottish Enlightenment and Scottish identity
  • Mid-eighteenth-century politics and political culture
  • Bute, satire and political prints

The symposium will be held 2-4 October 2017 at The Hunterian and Mount Stuart. Full details, including instructions for submitting proposals, are available here.