London 18th-Century Postgraduate Reading Group, 24 March 17 – High Art and Low Art

London 18th-Century Postgraduate Reading Group, 24 March – High Art and Low Art

Join us for the next session of the London 18th-Century Postgraduate Reading Group, 3.30-5 pm on Friday 24 March, in Room 106, School of Arts, Birkbeck (43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD).

The hierarchies of art at the Royal Academy and the Society of Arts’ system of awards for excellence in drawing and design meant that most forms of artistic endeavour were categorised, ranked and compared in increasingly complex ways during the second half of the eighteenth century. However, the categories were permeable: many artists made careers both in high art and in the commercial world of product catalogues, advertising everyday goods. This session will look at some prints of ‘everyday’ items made by William Blake and John Bacon, with readings and images put together by Miriam Al Jamil (PhD candidate, Arts and Humanities, Birkbeck).

Guided by Granger’s category of ‘Painters, Artificers, Mechanics, and all of inferior professions’, we will look at Wedgwood’s catalogue – with its assertion that he would ‘rather give up the making of any particular article altogether, than suffer it to be degraded’ – together with an article by Anne Puetz, which discusses artisan instruction and 18th-century concerns about England’s competitiveness in the luxury goods trade. How did artists, designers and producers negotiate and engage with the status of artisanal work, and attempt to elevate and improve it? Did artists successfully straddle the divide or was there a penalty?

The readings are:

Josiah Wedgwood, Catalogue of Cameos, Intaglios, Medals, Bas-Reliefs, Busts and Small Statues (Etruria, 1787), pp. 63-73 – available here.

James Granger, A Biographical History of England […] consisting of Characters Disposed in Different Classes, and Adapted to a Methodical Catalogue of Engraved British Heads, 4 vols. (1769; 4th edn. London, 1804), I, ‘Plan of the Catalogue’, ‘Preface’, and  pp. 277-83 – available here.

Anne Puetz, ‘Design Instruction for Artisans in Eighteenth-Century Britain’, Journal of Design History, 12 (1999), 217-39 – available here.

And the images are:

  1. William Blake, Creamware Shapes, from the Wedgwood Catalogue (1817).
  2. William Blake, River God, from Eleanor Coade, Coade’s Lithodipyra, or, Artificial Stone Manufactory: for all kind of statues, capitals, vases, tombs, coats of arms, & architectural ornaments &c. &c (London, 1784)
  3. John Bacon, Stock Classical Figures to hold candelabra [etching], from Coade’s Lithodipyra
  4. John Bacon, Further Classical Statuary [etching] from Coade’s Lithodipyra

These are all available here.

The London 18th-Century Postgraduate Reading Group is a student-run reading group organised in collaboration with the Centre for Enlightenment Studies at King’s and Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group. Staff and students at all London universities are very welcome. The reading group concentrates on a different theme each academic year, with an emphasis on primary texts and recent criticism. For more information, view the reading group’s blog.

If you have any queries about the readings or the reading group, please contact Robert Stearn ( or Miriam Al Jamil (

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FREE EVENT: Reclaiming Conversation in a Digital Age w/ Prof Sherry Turkle (MIT) – 18.30, Monday 16 May

After the phenomenal success of her most recent TED talk, King’s College London’s Ego-Media project and the Centre for Digital Culture are delighted to announce that the internationally-esteemed media scholar Professor Sherry Turkle will be coming to talk at King’s @ 18:30 on 16 May.

The talk will be based on Prof Turkle’s newest book, the New York Times Bestseller Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age (Penguin Press, Oct 2015), which investigates how a flight from conversation undermines our relationships, creativity and productivity.

A drinks reception will follow the event.


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Call for Submissions: 2016 Ivan Juritz Prize – Deadline 28 March 2016

The King’s College London Centre for Modern Literature and Culture is pleased to announce that our 2016 Ivan Juritz Prize for Creative Responses to Modernism is now open.  The competition is open to postgraduate students from throughout the UK.  You are invited to submit texts (up to 2000 words), images, films (up to 15 minutes), digital artefacts, musical compositions (up to 12 minutes for up to two instruments or for electronics*).

Please do come along to our launch event for the 2016 competition:

Inventing the Modern Novel

Mon 9 November, 6.30-7.45pm, Edmond J Safra Lecture Theatre

Ali Smith and Vesna Goldsworthy in conversation with Lara Feigel

Acclaimed novelists Ali Smith and Vesna Goldsworthy will explore the influence of modernist literature on their own work and interrogate what it might mean to be influenced by modernism.  Is modernism more a period of early-twentieth century art or a set of styles?  If the modernist novel still exists today, is it necessarily formally avant-garde? Does it continue Virginia Woolf’s task of tracing ‘the atoms as they fall upon the mind in the order in which they fall’? Does it employ what TS Eliot termed ‘the mythical method’, as ‘a way of controlling, of ordering, of giving a shape and a significance to the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history’?

This discussion is free and will be followed by a drinks reception.  It is open to the wider public but 150 seats have been set aside for students eligible to enter the Ivan Juritz Prize for Creative Responses to Modernism.

To book please visit

The Competition

In the early decades of the twentieth century writers, visual artists, filmmakers and musicians across the world competed to follow Ezra Pound’s injunction to ‘make it new’.  Whether artists were willing or resisting change – hurling themselves into the (often technological) future or hankering elegiacally after lost forms and ways of life – the first fifty years of the twentieth century saw an explosion of artistic production in all the arts.  Shaken up by two world wars, stirred by the invention of cinema, artists questioned what art was and could be and asserted its value in a fragmented yet increasingly interconnected world.

Postgraduate students are invited to submit their own creative responses to this moment of artistic explosion in whatever art form seems most appropriate. This might be a homage, pastiche or parody or could be a much freer (and less historical) engagement with modernism.  You might see yourself as continuing, challenging or simply evoking the modernist project. The judges are looking for originality and hope to be made both to think and feel. Entries should be accompanied by a paragraph (up to 150 words) explaining the work of art and its relation to modernism.

The prize is open to postgraduate students from across Britain and will be judged by our Advisory Board (Lisa Appignanesi, Michael Berkeley, Rachel Cusk, Dexter Dalwood, Alison Duthie, Juliet Gardiner, Jeremy Harding, Deborah Levy, Stephen Romer, Fiona Shaw).

The deadline for the prize is Monday 28 March 2016. Entries should be submitted (or posted to Dr Lara Feigel, English department, King’s College London, Virginia Woolf Building, 22 Kingsway, London WC2B 6NR).

The three shortlisted entries will be published in the journal Textual Practice and on our website.  If a musical composition is shortlisted it will receive a concert performance before the prize-giving ceremony which will also be recorded and published on our website.  The winner will receive a year’s membership to the Tate (or the equivalent museum in the recipient’s home city) and all the shortlisted contestants will meet the Advisory Board at a dinner following the prize-giving ceremony in June 2015.

To see details of the 2015 winning entries and for more details about the prize see

The Centre for Modern Literature and Culture was founded in September 2013 and is currently engaged in a project called ‘Inventing the Modern’. We aim to provide a hub for investigating modernist culture in London, initiating conversation and collaboration between researchers and creative artists. For us modernism can be seen as reaching back into the nineteenth century and forward into the twenty-first, embracing all art forms and nationalities and often mingling popular culture and high art. Our mission is to bring together academics, writers and artists to explore, interrogate, dismantle and reinvent the notion of the ‘modern’.

For more details about the Centre see: .

To join our mailing list please email with the heading ‘join mailing list’.

Music scores, which may be accompanied by a recording (in WAV or mp3 format), should be either posted as hardcopies or send electronically in PDF.  Musical compositions for electronic medium should be submitted in WAV format only.  Any works that include extensive improvisatory or aleatoric elements should be  accompanied  by a recording of a performance.


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