Solitude and a Party

The academic year may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a lot going on…

Crucial & fun date for your diary: Friday 12 July 6pm, room G01 in Gordon Square, for the annual department end of term party to which all our students are warmly invited. Please bring something to share! And do come along – it’s always a fun time.

On Monday 24 June at 6.30pm (note odd time) in Keynes Library you can come and listen in on three academics having a chit-chat about their mutual preoccupation with being alone and the spaces architects provide for solitude and isolation. ‘Solitude and its Spaces Across History, Philosophy and Architecture‘ is organised by the Architecture, Space and Society Centre and will be a fairly free-flowing conversation between Lisa Guenther (Queen’s University, Ontario), Barbara Taylor (Queen Mary, University of London) and Leslie Topp (aka your author, Birkbeck). We’re each from different disciplines and different universities, and two of us live in the UK, but, completely coincidentally, we’re all Canadian – make of that what you will. Please join us for an informal conversation between three scholars whose work deals with solitude, isolation, confinement and the rooms, cells and other spaces within which these states are experienced and enforced. Ranging across history, philosophy and architecture, from the eighteenth century to the present, the discussion will address questions such as: What distinguishes solitude from isolation, a room of one’s own from a cell? Why study the history of these concepts and spaces? What is the relationship between body, mind and space in the confines of the single room? Can spaces of solitude be seen as a connecting thread between areas as diverse as psychiatry, criminal justice, monasticism, academia and the intellectual life? More details and a booking link here.

Prisoner in cell at Sing Sing Prison, New York State

Our own Dorigen Caldwell, Senior Lecturer in the department, will be giving the final paper in the Murray Seminar in Medieval and Renaissance Art on Wednesday 3 July 5pm in Keynes Library. She’ll be speaking on Prayers, Purgatory and Politics in Post-Tridentine Rome’. The Madruzzo Chapel in the Roman church of Sant’Onofrio was decorated between 1600 and 1605. Boasting sumptuous coloured marble tombs, a sophisticated fresco cycle and an altarpiece designed by Annibale Carracci, the chapel houses the remains of three Madruzzo cardinals. Hailing from the Northern Italian city of Trent, home to the eponymous Council, all three men were also Prince-Bishops of their native territory. As such, they had experienced  the frontline fight against Protestant heresy in German-speaking lands, while also enjoying positions of power at the heart of Papal Rome. This seminar will examine the imagery employed in the chapel as an expression not only of the fashionable artistic tastes of early modern Rome, but also of the particular preoccupations of these ‘cardinali tedeschi’.

Do be sure to catch the exhibition currently on in the Peltz Gallery, ‘Refugees, Newcomers, Citizens’, featured in my previous post – you may have noticed the striking window stickers facing onto the front of the building announcing ‘Picture Post’.

Did you know Birkbeck hosted a leading online academic journal on the ‘long nineteenth century’? The latest issue of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth-Century is now available, and it’s a special issue on an art historical topic, edited by Maria Alambritis, PhD student in the department, and Susanna Avery-Quash, (National Gallery curator who will be joining us as Honorary Research Fellow in 2019-20) along with Prof. Hilary Fraser from English and Humanities. This issue uncovers the major and enduring impact of Victorian women’s scholarship on the Old Masters that shapes their reputation today. It charts the range and breadth of women’s contributions to the developing discipline of art history in Britain through the long nineteenth century. Bringing together scholars from across the literary, art historical and museological fields, this richly interdisciplinary issue showcases the work of well-established writers such as Anna Jameson and Lady Elizabeth Eastlake, alongside newly emerging figures like Lucy Olcott. The fifteen articles of this issue explore the diverse ways in which these women influenced knowledge and research on the art of the Old Masters, demonstrating their impact on taste, display and collecting and tracing the ongoing resonance of their work in art history and museum practice today.

Finally, many congratulations to Honorary Research Fellow Juliana Barone, who has not one but two books out as part of the many events she’s been involved in marking the 500th anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci’s death. Below is the cover of the catalogue of the exhibition she has curated, currently on at the British Library. And here you can see the gorgeous cover of Leonardo in Britain, the volume of essays she’s co-edited with Susanna Avery-Quash.

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