Visual empires

The fourth Visual Delights conference, Visual Empires, will take place at the University of Sheffield between 3-5 July 2009, and a call for papers has been issued.

Popular visual cultures have been central to the construction and propagation of imperial and colonial narratives and have helped define the nature of Empire. They have been intrinsically linked to discourses about the rise and fall of Imperial fortunes in the 19th and early 20th centuries and have been studied as both evidence of imperial attitudes to race and colonial subjects and as propaganda texts which helped spread and cement imperial and colonial ideologies. This conference seeks to explore this rich visual archive and to examine the roles played by popular visual culture in the construction of narratives concerning issues of race, identity, colonial and imperial ideologies, nationalism, patriotism and the ‘Visual Empire.’

We would like to receive suggestions for papers with deal with these issues in popular cultural forms such as photography, advertising, cinema, theatre, the magic lantern, ethnographic display and world’s fairs before 1930. Suggested themes could include:

  • Photography and constructions of ‘otherness’
  • Ethnographic display and racial identities
  • Advertising and imagined colonies
  • Cinema and the mapping of Empire
  • The magic lantern and the topography of Empire
  • Music hall and the patriotic show

Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be sent to Simon Popple (s.e.popple [at] or The Louis Le Prince Centre, The Institute of Communications Studies, The Houldsworth Building, The University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK. The deadline for submissions is 1 November 2008.

The conference will be jointly hosted by the Louis Le Prince Centre, University of Leeds and the National Fairground Archive, University of Sheffield. It is held in conjunction with the journal Early Popular Visual Culture.