Instruction, amusement and spectacle

Programme for Poole’s Myriorama show at Victoria Hall in Exeter, 1896, from

A call for papers has gone out for Instruction, Amusement and Spectacle: Popular Shows and Exhibitions 1800-1914, a conference taking place 16-18 April 2009, at the Centre for Victorian Studies, University of Exeter.

The conference aims to examine the eclectic range of popular entertainments in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, with a particular focus on exhibition practices. The intention is to provide a forum that brings together the range of research currently being undertaken by different disciplines in this area, including film studies, Victorian studies, history of science, performance studies, English literature, art history and studies of popular culture.

Potential topics could include but are not limited to:

  • The role of visual entertainments (e.g. magic lantern, panoramas, dioramas, photography, peep shows)
  • Early cinema: exhibition and reception
  • Local and regional exhibition cultures
  • Science and technology: demonstration and instruction
  • Improvement and rational recreation
  • Exhibitions of ‘Otherness’ (e.g. freak shows, ethnographic shows, minstrels)
  • Music hall, pantomime, vaudeville and variety
  • Public lectures and lecturing
  • Galleries, museums and civic institutions (e.g. The Royal Polytechnic Institution, Mechanics Institutes)
  • Travelling shows, fairgrounds and circuses
  • World’s Fairs and international exhibitions
  • Magic, illusion and spiritualism
  • Concerts, recitals and readings
  • Pleasure gardens, tourism and seaside exhibitions
  • Dance and physical performance
  • Literary and other representations of popular entertainments
  • Showmen and showmanship
  • Audiences: composition and reception
  • Intermediality and exhibitions
  • Image, narrative and performance

Proposals are invited of no more than 300 words, to be sent together with designation and affiliation to, no later than 31 October 2008.

The conference is one output of the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project AHRC funded project Moving and Projected Image Entertainment in the South West 1820-1914 at the University of Exeter, which is using a regional study to demonstrate the extensive national distribution of moving and projected images between 1820 and 1914.

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