2014-15 (archive)

Trinity Term 2014: Crossing the Disciplines

1. Monday 5 May - Colin Matthew Room – 12.30 to 1.30pm

‘Constructive Chronologies? Periodisation and Disciplines’ (roundtable):

  • Clare Bucknell: ‘No Man’s Land: Marginal Mid-Century Literature’
  • Dr Oliver Cox: ‘Restoration? Country House Conservation and the Construction of the Georgian era’
  • Dr Abigail Williams: ‘Periods and Perfume: Marketing the Ages to a Modern Audience’
  • Chair: Adam Bridgen

 This session is organised in association with the Thames Valley Country House Partnership Trust, and the upcoming conference ‘Periodisation: Pleasures and Pitfalls’ at All Soul’s College, Oxford, on the 3rd June 2014.

2. Tuesday 20 May – Lecture Theatre – 1.30 to 3pm (no lunch, afternoon tea to follow)

Dr Giovanna Vitelli (Ashmolean): ‘Thinking with Objects: the impact of material culture on disciplinary boundaries, teaching practices, and eighteenth-century studies’

The University Engagement Programme, launched in 2012 with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, aims to enlarge the use and understanding of the Ashmolean Museum’s extensive collections in mainstream Oxford teaching. To date, the programme has taught nearly 3000 students at the Museum, from over 25 departments and all four Divisions, introducing ‘object work’ as a valid and enriching component of learning, and a stimulus to further reflection. The UEP team not only offer single sessions as part of existing courses, but are actively engaged in formulating new Papers and Options, supervising students, teacher training, and also offer opportunities for research that integrates philological and material approaches.

This seminar will explore the potential for cross-disciplinary learning and teaching in the long eighteenth century, and present recent case studies of successful collaboration. The title, ‘Thinking with Objects’, also reflects faculty interest in the enhanced research potential being offered by the “material turn” in the humanities.

An additional material handling session at the Ashmolean with Dr Vitelli, between 2-5pm, will take place on Tuesday 27 May. There will be 12 spaces, and participants will be invited to sign up following the seminar.

3. Thursday 5 June – Seminar Room – 12.30 to 1.30pm

Julie Anne Lambert (Bodleian Library): ‘Ephemera: Defining, Collecting and Researching the Fragmentary Past’
Chair: Dr Abigail Williams

The John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera is one of the largest and most important collections of printed ephemera in the world. It offers a fresh view of British history through primary, uninterpreted printed documents which, produced for short-term use, have survived by chance – including advertisements, trade cards, handbills, ballads and playbills. The Collection encompasses a diverse range of material, mainly from the 18th to the early 20th centuries: it is physically arranged under some 700 subject headings, and has been made searchable through detailed cataloguing, selective OCR and digitisation.

This seminar sets out to explore the interrelating ways in which ephemera is defined, how it has been preserved and the significance of collections – past and present – and, finally, the ways in which it has recently grown in significance within a range of different disciplines.

Recommended reading:

Michaelmas Term 2014: Teaching the Eighteenth-Century

This term’s seminar series focuses on the challenges and the pleasures of teaching the eighteenth century. Across the term, leading scholars and tutors from four disciplines will reflect on their experiences of and approaches to teaching this period. The themes of the talks range from the practical to the theoretical. Hanneke Grootenboer (History of Art) will explore the use of material and visual culture as teaching tools, while Joanna Innes (History) will reflect on the challenges, opportunities and methods of teaching the eighteenth century to undergraduates who generally have almost no prior awareness of the period. Meanwhile, Susan Wollenberg (Music) and Ros Ballaster (English) will lead discussions of how ‘historicist’ our teaching of eighteenth-century music and literature should be and whether this can lead students to lose sight of the distinctive aesthetic developments of the period.

To complement the wider aims of RECSO, all talks will aim to highlight and discuss aspects of these questions applicable to all disciplines. They are aimed at postgraduates and postdocs who are beginning to (or will soon) teach this period for the first time, as well as other faculty members who wish to share ideas and expand their repertoire of teaching techniques. Seminars take place within the Radcliffe Humanities Building on Woodstock Road; a free buffet lunch will be provided from 12:15pm. Talks will begin at 12:30pm and will be followed by a general discussion. We look forward to seeing you there.

Tuesday 21 Oct (Week 2), 12:15pm-1:30pm, Seminar Room, Radcliffe Humanities Building

Prof. Hanneke Grootenboer – How to Portray a Touch, a Kiss: Eye, Mouth and Breast Miniatures

Thursday 6 Nov (Week 4), 12:15-1:30pm, Seminar Room, Radcliffe Humanities Building

Prof. Susan Wollenberg – ‘Music in Context’: Studying and Teaching the Eighteenth Century

Friday 21 Nov (Week 6), 12:15-1:30pm, Colin Matthew Room, Radcliffe Humanities Building

Prof. Joanna Innes – Eighteenth-Century History for Beginners: Teaching Challenges

*N.B. Room Change

Tuesday 2 Dec (Week 8), 12:15-1:30pm, Meeting Room 4, Radcliffe Humanities Building

Prof. Ros Ballaster – Historicist Norms and the Argument for Aesthetics in Teaching the Eighteenth Century

*N.B. Room Change

For any further details about the seminars, or if you’re interested in giving future teaching talks, please contact David Kennerley or Fiona Gatty.

Hilary Term 2015: 90 Seconds, 5 Questions Workshops

This term’s programme focuses on current research on the eighteenth century across a variety of disciplines. Each speaker will begin by pitching their thesis in 90 seconds, before responding to a fixed set of 5 questions from a selected RECSO interviewer. These systematic questions will allow the speaker to explain the rationale, materials, and methodology of their research in further detail, to elaborate particular case studies, and to reflect on the progress of their research more generally.

Martina Piperno will discuss her thesis on the Italian reaction to Romanticism, focusing on the work of two influential thinkers Giambattista Vico (1668-1744) and Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837). Dr Oliver Cox will outline his research on the eighteenth-century fascination with King Alfred and how this has fed into his work with the Thames Valley Country House Partnership Project. We will also hear from Hannah Kinney about her doctoral project on debates surrounding copies of sculpture in the late Medici Court in Florence, and Katherine Fender on the “Welsh Sublime” in eighteenth-century and Romantic poetry.

Seminars take place within the Radcliffe Humanities Building* on Woodstock Road; a free buffet lunch will be provided from 12:15pm. Talks will begin at 12:30pm and will be followed by a general discussion. We look forward to seeing you there.

*N.B. Alternative room in Week 2.

Friday 30th January (Week 2), 12:15pm-1:30pm, Common Room, Third Floor, Radcliffe Humanities Building
Martina Piperno, PhD Candidate Italian Studies, University of Warwick
Thesis: Looking back at the ancient world in Italy from Vico to Leopardi (1708-1837)

Monday 9th February (Week 4), 12:15pm-1:30pm, Seminar Room, Radcliffe Humanities Building
Dr Oliver Cox, Knowledge Exchange Fellow - Thames Valley Country House Partnership Project
Thesis (completed 2013): Rule Britannia: Kind Alfred the Great and the Creation of a National Hero in England and America, 1640-1800

Monday 23rd February (Week 6), 12:15pm-1:30pm, Seminar Room, Radcliffe Humanities Building
Hannah Kinney, DPhil Candidate History of Art, University of Oxford 
Thesis: Reproducing History: Moulds, Copies, and Ideas of Patrimony in Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Florence

POSTPONED Monday 9th March (Week 8), 12:15pm-1:30pm, Seminar Room, Radcliffe Humanities Building
Katherine Fender, DPhil Candidate English Literature, University of Oxford
Thesis: ‘When tuneful bards awak’d the song sublime’: the Bardic Sublime in Romantic Poetry

For further details about the format of the “90 Seconds, 5 Questions” Workshops please see the Guidelines for speakers. If you’re interested in participating in future research-in-progress workshops, please contact Emily Knight ([email protected])

Trinity Term 2015: Objects from the Wallace Collection

In the lead-up to RECSO’s inaugural conference on the 13th June 2015, ‘At Home’: Exploring Eighteenth-Century Domestic Space”, we will be hosting an afternoon of graduate presentations of objects from the Wallace Collection in London, one of the world’s finest collections of 18th and 19th century paintings, sculpture, furnishings, ceramics and armour.

The talks are a direct result of research pursued by MSt European Enlightenment graduates at the Wallace Collection, as part of the ‘Art of the Enlightenment: Image, Text, Object’ special option course.

Tuesday 9th June, 12.15-1.30pm, Radcliffe Humanities Building

Chair: Adam Bridgen (outgoing RECSO Director)

Lindsay Macnaughton, ‘Tables Turned: Challenging a Perceived Image of Eighteenth-Century elite Parisian Society’

This presentation investigates the extent to which the physical evidence provided by a selection of small tables in the Wallace Collection challenges the perceived image of the activities of ancien régime elite Parisian society propagated by visual and literary sources. Read as art objects, I argue, the discursive signs ingrained in the construction and design of these tables become valuable witnesses of a shift in taste, refinement, and self-fashioning in the second half of the eighteenth century.

Elena Sorochina, ‘The Eighteenth-Century Duel: Between Feudalism and Enlightenment’

This presentation discusses the evolution of the aspect and functions of the sword as a means of understanding changes in elite French culture in the latter half of the eighteenth century. I will concentrate on some key differences between the medieval sword and the eighteenth-century smallsword in order to highlight some crucial contradictions, ambiguities, and developments regarding the role and place of duelling.