Objects of Research: The Material Turn in Nineteenth-Century Literary Studies

A Half Day Workshop

The Woburn Room, Senate House Library

Monday, 18th July, 1pm to 6pm

The Victorians’ fascination with objects and things has proved equally fascinating to the field of Victorian Studies. In keeping with this ‘material turn’, the last decade has seen an upsurge in interdisciplinary, collections-based research that enriches our understanding of Victorian Literature while expounding upon the diverse material culture of the period.

This workshop is a means of learning more about the nature and methodologies of current object-led research in Victorian Studies, as well as the broader issues surrounding this kind of research such as using online resources, locating materials, and searching collections. Bringing together researchers and curators who work across the nineteenth century, we will be asking questions about how to ‘read’ objects, how to situate such materials within a broader historical context, and how to construct narratives based on object-based research.

* Registration is free, but booking is essential as places are limited. *

Please register via this link.


1.00 – 1.10                  Arrival and Registration

1.10 – 1.20                  Welcome and Introduction

1.20 – 2.30                  Session One: Buildings and Bodies

Verity Burke (Reading) ‘Corpora: Articulating Literature and Anatomy in Collections-Based Research’

Nicola Kirkby (KCL) ‘Sketching, Engineering, Plotting: Brunel and Paddington Station’

Emma Curry (Birkbeck) ‘Mad Hats: Dickens’s Material Languages’

2.30-2.45                     Tea Break

2.45 – 4.00                  Session Two: Materialities of Writing and Reading

Hannah Field (Sussex) ‘The Destructible Book: Children’s Novelties and Materialized Readers’

Joanna Robinson (Surrey) ‘Performance and Digital Palimpsests’

Katherine Ford (Science Museum) ‘The archives of the Royal Society and Victorian literary culture’

4.00-5.00                     Session Three: Conversations with Curators

                                    Tim Boon (Science Museum)

                                    Edwina Ehrman (V&A)

Kristin Hussey (QMUL

5.00-6.00                     Wine Reception, Montague Room


The workshop will take place in the Woburn Room, Senate House Library, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU. For a map and travel information, please click here.

For more information, please contact the organiser, Dr Melissa Dickson, at melissa.dickson@ell.ox.ac.uk

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