The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Welcome 2012-2013 Students

I would like to take a quick opportunity to welcome our new PhD students to the department as well as a new group of MA students! We are so exciting to have a new group with us once again this October (for MAs) and for the next few years (PhDs).

We are always looking for new students in the department to contribute to The Attic Blog, so if you are interested please let me (the Moderator) know!

Otherwise, please enjoy reading through our old posts and looking forward to new ones in the coming months.


Friday, September 28, 2012

An Intriguing Conference

Call for Papers: Making 1916 - The Material and Visual Culture of the
Easter Rising
Dublin, Ireland April 26-27 2013
Convened by Joanna Brück (University College Dublin) and Lisa Godson
(National College of Art and Design, Dublin)

Please email abstracts of up to 300 words to
by December 15 2012.

The Irish Easter Rising of 1916 has long been a focus of historical
research yet its extraordinary material legacy has rarely been
examined. This conference will explore how material and visual
culture were drawn on to construct particular cultural and political
narratives, including changing concepts of nationhood, gender and
religious identity. The role of objects and images in commemorative
practices, the re-imagining of space and creative practices in
relation to the 1916 Rising will also be addressed.

The conference seeks to bring together senior scholars with students,
postdoctoral academics, designers, artists and other researchers. We
welcome researchers drawn from fields including Archaeology,
Anthropology, Geography, Architectural History, History of Design,
Material Culture, Visual Culture, Museum Studies, Art History, History
of Media and Cultural History. We define material and visual culture
and creative practices broadly, encompassing not only artefacts and
spaces related to the ‘event’ and remembrance of the 1916 Easter
Rising, but also attitudes to materiality and visuality.

Some suggested topics:
1916 and television
The Proclamation as artefact
Transubstantiation as a metaphor
Ritual and the Rising
The material culture of militarism
Illustrating 1916
Autograph books
The material/visual culture of internment
Museological practices and 1916
Archiving the Rising
Visual Art and 1916
Uniforming the Volunteers
Commemorative practices
Looting practices and myths at the Rising
Material memories of 1916
Postcards of the Rising
The spaces of reconstruction
Official and unofficial souvenirs
Architecture: destruction and reconstruction
Filmic representations of 1916

Monday, September 24, 2012

Material Culture Conference

The Material Culture Area of PCA/ACA (Popular Culture Association/American
Culture Association) <> is pleased to announce the
Call for Proposals for the 2013 National Conference, to be held at
the Wardman Park Marriott in Washington, DC, March 27–30, 2013. You are
invited to submit proposals now through Tuesday, December 4, 2012.
*Material Culture Area
The study of material culture offers an exciting area for interdisciplinary
research and conversation, as it brings together those engaged in scholarly
inquiry in areas as diverse as history, art history, architecture as
object, design, decorative arts, cultural studies, literature,
communications, anthropology, and sociology. If your work touches on the
study of designed objects and consumer goods, we would love to learn more
about it at this year's conference in Boston. Academics, practitioners,
graduate students, museum professionals, and public historians are welcome.

Past presentations in this area have focused on decorative arts and the
construction of literary characters, the material culture of poverty,
commemorative items, historic and modern furnishings and fashion, branding
and marketing trends, and a wide range of associated topics.
Selected works may be considered for publication in an edited volume after

Submission Guidelines:
If you are interested in presenting, or have any questions about the
conference, please visit <>. To submit an abstract for
consideration, please visit <> before Tuesday,
December 4, 2012 (between 100 and 250 words, please). *Please be sure to
select Material Culture as the area to which you submit your abstract!*

Friday, September 14, 2012

EARTH PERFECT? Nature, Utopia, and the Garden

EARTH PERFECT? Nature, Utopia, and the Garden
 Symposium and exhibitions, June 6-9, 2013


Since time immemorial, gardens have been key in humanity’s quest to
define an ideal relation to nature. Gardens have been sources of
nourishment for the body and the soul, they have been symbols of wealth
and power, they have served as barriers against the wild, and much more.
EARTH PERFECT? Nature, Utopia, and the Garden is a four-day symposium
designed for an academic audience, garden professionals, and a general
public interested in the importance and meaning of gardens.

Event Locations:
The University of Delaware
Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania
Winterthur Estate Gardens, Delaware
Chanticleer Garden, Pennsylvania
The Mount Cuba Center, Delaware

Events Include:
Themed garden tours and exhibitions, as well as lectures, workshops, and
academic paper sessions focusing on topics such as wellness and the
garden, environment and society, historic preservation and land use,
green textiles, CSAs, the garden in the visual arts, the garden in
literature, the meaning and function of domestic and public gardens,
architecture and the garden, the spiritual associations of gardens,
gardening the planet in the face of ecological decline, political
aspects of gardening, and economies of the garden.

Featured Speakers Include:
Jane Knight, landscape architect of The Eden Project, Cornwall, UK
Stephen Forbes, Executive Director of the Adelaide Botanic Garden, South
Emma Marris, author of /Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a
Post-Wild World/
Margaret Morton, photographer and co-author of /Transitory Gardens,
Uprooted Lives/
Douglas Tallamy, author of /Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants
Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens/
McKay Jenkins, author of /What’s Gotten Into Us: Staying Healthy in a
Toxic World/

Call for Papers:
Abstracts and proposals for papers and panels due Dec. 15, 2012
This interdisciplinary event focuses on the importance and meaning of
gardens in the past, present, and the future, and that from a wide range
of perspectives, including, but not limited to the following
disciplines: art, art history, architecture, anthropology, agriculture,
philosophy, literature, history, horticulture, botany, landscape
architecture, garden design, nutrition, and law, as well as earth and
life sciences.

For instructions regarding submission of paper abstracts as well as
proposals for panels or roundtable discussions, visit:

New Book - Call for Papers: The Photograph and the Album

We invite international submissions to be included in this forthcoming book, The Photograph and the Album, to be published by MuseumsEtc [] in 2013.

The photograph album carries the potential to convey meaning beyond the images contained within it. However, the long history of the photograph and the album is currently changing because of the way in which we are now making and using photographs. This could be seen as a challenge to the album or viewed as an opportunity to take us in new directions and offer alternative interpretations.

We welcome submissions of between 2000-6000 words from writers, academics, curators, photographers, artists and other visual practitioners. If your submission is of a visual nature it will extend to 6-8 pages of the published book.

The Photograph and the Album will be edited by Rosie Miller, Jonathan Carson and Theresa Wilkie from the School of Art & Design, University of Salford, UK.

If you are interested in being considered as a contributor, please submit a proposal of between 300-500 words with a short biography and CV to the following address: by Monday 1 October 2012. If you have any queries about this CFP please email:

The full Call for Papers can be found here: where there is also a downloadable version.

We are seeking contributions that deal with a wide range of issues in connection with the photograph and the album and the relationship between them. This could encompass conceptual, cultural, historical and visual concerns relating to:
* the album as home-made, hand-made and/or domestic artefact
* the album as art object
* the family album
* the travel album
* the commercially-made photograph album
* the digital album
* the photograph album and the museum
* the collecting of albums
* the photograph album as social memory and political document
* the presence and the absence of the photograph album

The book will be published in print and digital editions by MuseumsEtc in 2013.
Contributors will receive a complimentary copy of the publication and a discount on more.

The Editors
Jonathan Carson is Associate Head (Academic) and Senior Lecturer in Critical & Contextual Studies in the School of Art & Design, University of Salford, UK. Rosie Miller is a Lecturer and Critical & Contextual Studies Area Leader in the School of Art & Design, University of Salford, UK. Theresa Wilkie is Director of Design & Culture and Senior Lecturer in Critical & Contextual Studies in the School of Art & Design, University of Salford, UK. All three previously edited Photography and the Artist’s Book (MuseumsEtc, 2012).

COMPLETED PAPERS DUE: 28 JANUARY 2013 (provisional)

Sunday, September 09, 2012

3rd Global Conference of Urban Popcultures

Sunday 12th May - Tuesday 14th May 2013
Prague, Czech Republic

Call for Presentations:
This inter- and multi-disciplinary conference aims to examine, explore and critically engage with issues related to urban life. The project will promote the ongoing analysis of the varied creative trends and alternative cultural movements that comprise urban popcultures and subcultures. In particular the conference will encourage equally theoretical and practical debates which surround the cultural and political contexts within which alternative urban subcultures are flourishing.

Presentations, papers, performances, reports, work-in-progress, workshops and pre-formed panels are invited on issues related to any of the following themes:
1. Urban Space and the Landscape of the City
Urban Aesthetics and Architecture, Creative Re-imagining and Revitalization of the City.
Brown Fields Reborn. The Metropolis and Inner City Life: Urban Boredom vs. Creativity.

2. The City as Creative Subject/Object
Urban Life and Urban Subculture Considered in Music, Literature, Art and Film, Urban Fashion and Style. Mobile Gaming. Alternate Realities. Urban Visual Styles, Street Art, Graffiti and Tagging. City Festivals.

3. Urban Codes
Alternative Popular Culture and Ideology, Politics of Alternative Popcultures, D.I.Y, Alternative Ethics of the City. Urban Religion and Religious Expressions. The Language and Urban Slang. The Avantgarde and Urban Codes.

4. Alternative Music Cultures
Histories, Representations, Discourses and Independent Scenes. Popular Music Theory. The Visual Turn. Urban and Alternative Classes, Intertextualities and Intermedialities. Postmodernity and Beyond. Clubbing and Scenes. Hip Hop and Rap. Dark Wave Scenes - EMO, Post-Gothic, and Underground Electronica.

5. The Urban Underground
The Rise and Fall of the Experimental Subcultures, Scenes, Fashions and Styles. Alternative and Underground Dance, Electronica, Hip Hop, and Punk and Post-Rock Scenes.

6. Queer Theory and Urban Alternative Cultures
Gendered Music and Fashion. The Role of the City in Gendered Freedom and Libertine Lifestyles. Pride Parades.

7. The City, Fashion, and Identity
Identity Creation. Style and Branding. Politics of Cool. Pretties, Freaks and Uglies.

8. Visions of Alternative Sound Cultures in Massmedia
The Visual Aspects of Alternative Entertainment. The Evolution of Music and Thematic Television. Media Structure of Music Video. Explicit TV and Censorship. Urban Styles and Extreme Sports.

9. Urban Subcultures in Online World
Urban Identity and Global/Glocal Membership. Globalization/Localisation of Underground Music Experience. Copyright/Copyleft. The Role of Internet in the Transformation of Music Industry. The Impact of User-generated Content.

What to send:
300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 30th November 2012. All submissions are minimally double blind peer reviewed where appropriate. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 15th February 2013. Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to the Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract f) up to 10 key words

E-mails should be entitled: Urban Popcultures 3 Abstract Submission.

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs:

Jordan Copeland:
Daniel Riha:
Rob Fisher:

The conference is part of the 'Critical Issues' programme of research projects. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting. All papers accepted for and presented at the conference will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook.  Selected papers may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s).

For further details of the conference, please visit:

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.

Greetings from Berlin VII

Greetings from Berlin VII

Empty but not empty

One of my favourite places in Berlin is the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, formerly the Congress Hall. I love it because of its clear architecture and sometimes I go there just to drink a coffee and to think. Last Saturday I wanted to do so and just stepped in when the exhibition “Between Walls and Windows. Architecture and Ideology” was opened. Even though there are some artists’ installations spread over the whole house, the core of the exhibition is that curator Valerie Smith decided to empty the building. Signposts, panellings and furniture were removed so that the building itself can be perceived. I find the result stunning and could sense architecture like never before.
Click on the link below the image and you will find a clip describing the exhibition in English. 

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Call for Papers: Between Art and Information - Collecting Photographs

Between Art and Information: Collecting Photographs
One Day Meeting, Leicester, Saturday March 2nd 2013

Museums and Galleries History Group/Photographic History Research Centre

Call for Papers

The status of photographs in the history of museum collections is a complex one. From the inception of the medium its double capacity as an aesthetic form and as a recording medium created tensions about its place in the hierarchy of museum objects.  While museums had been amassing photographs since about 1850, it was, for instance, only in the 1970s that the first senior curators of photographs were appointed in UK museums. On the one hand major collections of ‘art’ photography have grown in status and visibility, while photographs not designated  ‘art’ are often invisible in museums. On the other hand almost every museum has photographs as part of its ecosystem, gathered as information, corroboration or documentation, shaping the understanding of other classes of objects. Many of these collections remain uncatalogued and their significance unrecognised. However recent years have seen an increasing interest in the histories of these humble objects, both their role in collections histories and their histories in their own right. 

This one-day meeting, a collaboration between MGHG and the Photographic History Research Centre at De Montfort University, Leicester, will explore the substantive and historiographical questions around museum collections of photographs. How do categories of the aesthetic and evidential shape the history of collecting photographs? What are the implications of shifts in these categories? What has been the work of photographs in museums? What does an understanding of photograph collections add to our understanding of collections history more broadly? What are the methodological demands of research on photograph collections?

Abstracts of no more than 250 words, for 25 minute papers, should be sent to Professor Elizabeth Edwards (  and Dr Kate Hill ( by November 10th  2012.
Details of the day will be posted in December 2012.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Conference on Architecture

*CFP: A Strange Utility: Architecture Toward Other Ends*

*Deadline: Friday, November 2, 2012*

*Conference Date: April 26 and 27, 2013 *

*Conference Location: Portland State University, Portland, OR, USA*

*Keynote Speaker: Jill L. Stoner, Associate Professor of Architecture, UC

Ours is an era of austerity measures, global economic turmoil, and
resource depletion in which the utility, or “use value” of any product,
resource, or process is championed as its foremost virtue. Politicians
aspire to budgets that maintain only the most functional and necessary
line-items and consumers seek products that are economical in their use of
resources or their adaptability from one utility to another—for example,
cars that use only a limited amount of gasoline, furniture that converts
into other uses, cell phones that are also computers, cameras, and personal
navigation system.

Of course, the discipline of architecture has always been linked to the
idea of utility—albeit in a variety of ways and to different degrees. From
architecture’s putative origins as a primitive form of shelter made of
foliage to the Modernist dictum that form follows function, architecture,
from the beginning, has been required to perform a “useful” function. Not
surprisingly, utility remains a central concern within contemporary
architectural practice, but alongside some of the obvious benefits—the
development of more energy efficient materials and processes and the
economic incentive to redevelop existing buildings before building
anew—have come some strange, if understudied effects. It is now common to
describe the inhabitants of buildings as “users,” a turn of phrase that
subtly positions architecture as a product whose value, in the end, is
determined primarily by the function of its use, and its inhabitants, in
the end, as consumers of space, rather than active participants who engage
with and indeed transform space through their habits, interventions, and

Meanwhile, outside the confines of mainstream practice, architecture is
being appropriated to ends that seem to dramatically expand and estrange
the familiar notion of utility.  For example, contemporary Polish artist
Monika Sosnowska recently used the twisted architectural form of a
Soviet-bloc government building as a metaphor for the pressures exerted
upon now-collapsed political regimes. Likewise, artists Paul Pfeiffer,
Thomas Demand, and James Casebere have all used the architectural model
(and its subsequent imaging) as a vehicle for addressing historical and
societal ills, their photographs addressing subjects such as the
atomization of the crowd at the sports arena, the history of American
slavery, and the atrocities of Nazi Germany. At the same time, for revered
science-fiction author Bruce Sterling, architecture is the very medium
through which future worlds are destroyed, imagined, and rebuilt. Moreover,
within the sphere of architecture itself, as envisioned by Jean-Gilles
Décosterd and Philippe Rahm, the built environment is designed to incite
physiological and biological responses; indeed, for many avant-garde
architects, architecture is both a medium and means to an unconventional
end, one part of an equation that considers, among many influences, the
social, cultural, mythological, economic, electromagnetic, biological and
chemical interactions between our bodies and the built environments they

Recognizing the contemporary currency of utility, this symposium seeks
unexpected ways of defining this term within and with respect to the built
environment. Submissions sought include, but are not limited to, academic
papers, performances, audience-participatory projects, poetry, and prose.

This symposium* *will be structured around a series of events and speakers
that grapple with the following questions: how and who has defined
architecture’s use-value, its utility? How can turning to other
disciplines’ unexpected utilization of architecture expand architects’ and
architectural historians’ perception of architecture’s utility? And, what
are architecture’s *future *utilities? As architecture’s primary function
is called into question daily, we may find that the answer to
architecture’s future lies precisely in its strange utility.

Please send abstract and c.v. to Professors Nora Wendl and Isabelle Loring
Wallace at the following email addresses: