CFP: Great Exhibitions in the Margins, 1851-1938

Great Exhibitions in the Margins, 1851 - 1938 University of Wolverhampton,
26-27 April 2012

Research has for a long time focused on world fairs, great exhibitions or
expositions universelles in the capitals of Europe and in the large cities
of the USA. Their crucial role in communicating ideas about the identities
of the exhibiting nations (and their relation to other cultures) and in
showcasing contemporary art and design has been examined in detail.
However, in the heyday of these spectacular events - in the second half of
the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century - smaller
cities and regional centres, such as Liege, Poznan, Edinburgh or
Wolverhampton, staged their own 'great exhibitions' modelled on those held
in the national (or imperial) centres. Their goals, although executed on a
more modest scale, were often the same and involved the promotion and sale
of goods but also communication of ideas, ideologies and identities. These
smaller shows usually had large ambitions and tried to engage not only the
local population but also national and international audiences and

This symposium turns attention to the exhibitions of arts and industries
in the regions outside the capitals and to the assumptions that lay behind
them. Its main focus will be placed on their ambitions, originality,
relationship to the ��greater�� exhibitions and, in particular,
their engagement with visual culture. The questions explored may include:

- what ambitions motivated the idea of staging an exhibition in the
particular location and what were its objectives

- what was the long-term impact of the show on the region, nationally
and internationally

- how were the arts displayed at the exhibition and what role they

- what specific influence did exhibitions like the Great Exhibition or
Expositions Universelles in Paris have on the exhibitions in the margins?

The symposium encourages an inter-disciplinary approach to the topic and
papers are therefore welcome from scholars in a wide range of disciplines,
including the history of art and design, history, politics, anthropology,
ethnography, cultural studies etc. A network of researchers interested in
the subject of exhibition cultures will be created through the symposium
as further academic activities on the theme are planned (a publication and
a research network). News about the symposium and the research network
will be posted at

Please send your paper proposals of up to 250 words to Dr. Marta Filipova
at by 1
November 2011.


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