Empires on show


Visual Empires is the title of the fourth Visual Delights conference, taking place 3-5 July at the University of Sheffield, Union of Students, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TG.

A summary of the conference’s concerns is not easy to track down, but the original call for papers said that they were interested in Imperial cinema, regional patriotic shows, circus and empire, silent film and identity, topographical empires, expedition films, the magic lantern and the empire, patriotism on the stage, sport as national identity, music hall and imperial sentiment, photography and otherness, colonial postcards, world’s fairs and ethnographic display, panoramic and dioramic empires, advertising and empire and the Boer War. Which is more than enough to fill a conference, and there’s a impressive line-up of speakers covering conquerers and the conquered.

Below is the outline programme (the full programme with abstracts of all the papers can be downloaded in PDF format here):

Visual Delights IV – Visual Empires

Friday – Registration and Refreshments – 9.30 – 10.00 am

Opening Lecture (10.00 – 10.30am)
Welcome from Simon Popple & Vanessa Toulmin

Allison Griffiths – Nontheatrical Ethnographic Film: Playing Indian in the Museum Sponsored Expedition Film

Panel 1-10.30am- Noon

Regional Empires Chair Simon Popple

Jill Sullivan – ‘Overflowing houses’: Panoramas in Exeter and Bristol 1840-1870
John Plunkett – Gateway to Empire: Plymouth’s popular entertainments 1855-75
Joe Kember – ‘Pure, Elevating, Instructive Entertainment’: Travel lectures in Plymouth during the 1890s
Ros Leveridge – ‘A panorama of Eastern splendour and of Western might’: Screening the Delhi Durbars in South West coastal resorts

12.00 -1.00pm Lunch

Panel 2 (1.00pm – 3.00pm)

Locating Empire Chair Vanessa Toulmin

Teresa Castro – Imperialism and Early Cinema’s “Mapping Impulse.
Cosimo Chiarelli – In the (visual) heart of Borneo – Charles Hose in Sarawak
J. P. Short – Empire and the Working-Class Eye: A History of Bourgeois Anxiety
Louise Tythacott – Race on display: the ‘Melanian’, ‘Mongolian’ and ‘Caucasian’ galleries at Liverpool Museum, 1896-1929

3.00- 3.30pm – Refreshments

Panel 3 Friday Afternoon (3.30 – 5.30pm)

Imperial identities 1 Chair John Fullerton

Fulya Ertem – Facing the “Other”: A critical approach to the construction of identity narratives in the early photographic practice of the Ottoman Empire.
Roshini Kempadoo – Defining subjects: Photography and the Trinidad plantation worker (1860s – 1940s)
Michael Eaton – Golden Bough and Silver Nitrate.
Alessandro Pes – Ordinary People Celebrities-The Fascist mythizising of Italian settlers in East Africa

Screenings: 7.00pm onwards

Nico De Klerk (Nederlands Film Archive) presents Gustav Deutsch’s Welt Spiegel Kino #2
Bryony Dixon – Curator of Silent film, BFI National Archive
Savage South Africa – Savage Attack and Repulse (1899)
The Paris and St Louis Expositions (1904)
Panorama of the Paris Exhibition No. 3 (1900)
Pan American Exposition by Night (1901)
Mitchell and Kenyon 703: Panorama of Cork Exhibition Grounds (1902)
White City – Franco British Exhibition (1908)
Brussels Exhibition (1910)
Visit to Earl’s Court (1911)
Gaumont Graphic: Festival of Empire: Their Majesties Driving in Semi State to the Opening Ceremony (1911)
Lord Grenfell lays the foundation stone of the Malta Pavilion for the British Empire Exhibition in 1924 with scenes of construction (1926)
Thrills in the Making (Topical Budget 649-2) (1924)
The Excursion to Wembley of Employees of Pullars of Perth (1924)
King Opens Empire Exhibition (Topical Budget 661-1) (1924)
White City Demobbed (1920)
Fireworks at Crystal Palace (1925)

Saturday 9.30– 10.00am Registration

Panel 1 Saturday Morning (10.00 –Noon)

Ethnography and performance Chair Alison Griffiths

Jacob Smith – The Adventures of the Lion Tamer
Christina Welch – The Popular Visual Representation of North American Indian Peoples and their Lifeways at the World’s Fairs and in the Wild West Shows
Joshua Yumibe – Abyssinian Expedition and the Field of Visual Display
Theresa Scandiffio – Welcome to the Show: Field Museum-Sponsored Expedition Films (1920s-1930s)

12.00 -1.00pm Lunch

Panel 2 Saturday Afternoon (1.00- 3.00pm)

Imperial Identities 2 Chair John Plunkett

Yvonne Zimmermann – Visual Empire of the Alps
Gunnar Iversen – Inventing the Nation – Diorama in Norway 1888-1894
Andrew May & Christina Twomey – Visual subjects and colonial sympathies: Australian responses to the 1870s Indian famine
Annamaria Motrescu – Displaced Indian identities in early colonial amateur films

3.00 – 3.30pm Refreshments

3.30 – 4.00pm – ‘Lucerna’: the Magic Lantern Web Resource
Richard Crangle, Magic Lantern Society

Panel 3 Saturday Afternoon – (4.00 – 6.00 pm)

Audiences and markets Chair Joe Kember

Amy Sargeant – Lever, Lifebuoy and Ivory
John Fullerton and Elaine King – Looking back, looking forward: colonial architecture in Mexico at the turn of the twentieth century and its representation in photography and the illustrated press
Denis Condon – Receiving News from the Seat of War: Dublin Audiences Respond to Boer War Entertainments
Martin Loiperdinger – Screening the Boer War in Germany: Audience Response and Censorship

Performance: Professor Mervyn Heard’s Lantern Show 7.30 pm

Professor Heard introduces modern audiences to the weird and wonderful magic lantern entertainments once presented in public halls and private drawing rooms throughout the 19th century. Each show is different and draws on a unique collection of original 19th century mechanical moving pictures, sights, frights, moral warnings, adventures, pictorial curiosities and fascinating information. This is a specially commissioned show focusing on material related to the First World War.


Panel 1 (9.30– 11.30am)

Cinema and the British Empire Chair Nick Hiley

Tom Rice – Presenting the Empire on Screen: The Empire Series (1925-1928)
Emma Sandon – Cinema and Empire: The Prince of Wales Tour 1925
Scott Anthony – Snowden Gamble and the films of Imperial Airways
Maurizio Cinquegrani – From Sydenham to Hyderabad: a Cinematic Map of the British Empire and its Cities

11.30 – 11. 45 am Break

11.45 – 12. 30 pm The Empire Exhibition of 1938 – The Spectator’s Perspective
Presented by Ruth Washbrook, Education and Outreach Officer, Scottish Screen Archive, National Library of Scotland
Empire Exhibition Scotland 1938 (2 mins) (BW)
The King and Queen Visit the Empire Exhibition (1938) (13 mins) (BW)
Sketch Plan of the Exhibition (1938) (7 mins) (Colour)
A Visit to the Empire Exhibition (1938) (12 mins) (Colour)

12.30 – 1.30 pm Lunch

Panel 2 (1.30 – 3. 15pm)

Imperial Humour Chair Richard Crangle

Samantha Holland – The hilarious joke of miscegenation in turn-of-the-century US films and culture
Paul Maloney – St George and Ali Baba: the visual culture of pantomime in Edinburgh in 1869
Matthew L. McDowell – Newspaper cartoons and the drawing of early Scottish football, 1865-1902
Andrew Shail – ‘The Great American Kinetograph’ in Britain: Film, Fakery and The Boer War


3.30 – 5.30pm Performance: The Crazy Cinematograph and conclusion

The Crazy Cinématographe is a touring spectacle celebrating the films produced in Europe during the first decade of the twentieth century. The show celebrates the work of the European film archives by producing a prestigious and entertaining showcase for those little known wonders only known to archivists, historians and festival goers, but not to the general public.

Booking form and accommodation details are available from the National Fairground site.