NIRVCNottingham Institute for Research in Visual Culture

Display and Spectacle

Conference 4-5 January 2007

University of Nottingham 

The Editors of Art History, Deborah Cherry and Fintan Cullen, will host a two day conference in the University of Nottingam from 4-5 January 2007 that focuses on issues relating to the politics of display and public spectacle. The conference will also form the basis for a collection of essays for publication in an issue of the journal in September 2007 on the theme of 'Display and Spectacle'. In the ten years since Carol Duncan's much used text book, Civilising Rituals: inside public art museums (1995), public and scholarly interest in the way art and the visual are and have been displayed has increased enormously. If you are interested in attending this conference or if you would like further information, please contact Liz Jennings, Department of Art history, University of Nottingham, tel. 0115 846 7779; email:
The aim of the conference is to create an international forum of speakers some of whose work will subsequently appear in the pages of Art History.

The special issue of Art History which will carry a majority of the papers delivered at the January 2007 conference will later appear as a Blackwell's book publication. The paperback book will hopefully appear in time for the College Art Association meeting in February 2008 (Dallas, Texas). Recent examples of this journal to book format have included Difference and Excess in Contemporary Art: The Visibility of Women's Practice, ed., Gill Perry, 2004 and Art: History: Visual: Culture, ed., Deborah Cherry, 2005. In December 2005, we published Between Luxury and the Everyday. French Decorative Arts in the Eighteenth Century, eds, Katie Scott and Deborah Cherry. This was followed in April 2006 by About Stephen Bann, ed., Deborah Cherry and in 2007 we will publish Location, eds, Deborah Cherry and Fintan Cullen (having appeared as an issue of the journal in December 2006). For previous examples see <>

The two day conference, Thursday/Friday 4-5 January 2007 will take place at the University of Nottingham. The provisional timetable for the conference is as follows:

Thursday 4 January 2007
Chair for day one: Deborah Cherry

  • Plenary by Tapati Guha-Thakurta (Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta)
    'Our Gods, their Museums'. The contrary careers of India's art objects
  • Rob Nelson (Yale University) Empathetic Vision: A Performative Miniature in a Byzantine Lectionary
  • Angus Lockyer (School of Oriental and African Studies, London) The Logic of Spectacle, circa. 1970
  • Sabrina Norlander Eliasson (Stockholm University) A Faceless Society? Portraiture and the Politics of display in Eighteenth-century Rome 
  • John Bonehill (Birkbeck College, London) Laying siege to the Royal Academy: Wright of Derby's "siege of Gibraltar" at Robins's Rooms, Covent Garden, April 1785

Friday 5 January 2007
Chair for day two: Fintan Cullen

  • Helen Rees Leahy (University of Manchester) 'Walking for Pleasure'? Bodies of Display at the 1857 Manchester Art-Treasures Exhibition 
  • Charles Saumarez Smith (National Gallery, London) Narratives of display at the National Gallery
  • Peter Funnell (National Portrait Gallery, London) 'A totally new concept of display': Display at the National Portrait Gallery, 1968-75
  • Neil Cummings and Marysia Lewandowska (London) From Capital to Enthusiasm: towards an exhibitionary practice 
  • Andrew McClellan (Tufts University, Boston): The Museum as Mausoleum, Revisited

Total of 10 papers: 8 papers of approx 30 mins each and 2 plenaries of an hour each.
Deborah Cherry to introduce the conference and chair the first afternoon. Fintan Cullen to chair the second day and bring the conference to a close.


Deborah Cherry, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art, University of the Amsterdam, The Netherlands
She has published extensively on nineteenth and twentieth century art, and her publications include Between Luxury and the Everyday: Decorative Arts in Eighteenth-Century France (co-edited, 2006), Art:History:Visual:Culture (2005), Speak English (2002), Beyond the Frame: Feminism and Visual Culture (2000), Painting Women: Victorian Women Artists, 1993 and The Edwardian Era (co-edited, 1987)

Fintan Cullen, Professor of Art History, University of Nottingham, UK
Recent publications include 'Conquering England' Ireland in Victorian London (co-written and curated with R.F. Foster), National Portrait Gallery, London, 2005; The Irish Face. Redefining the Irish Portrait, National Portrait Gallery, London, 2004. Earlier publications include Sources in Irish Art: A Reader (2000) and Visual Politics. The Representation of Ireland 1750-1930 (1997)

The Editors of Art History are most grateful for financial support to the Association of Art Historians, the British Academy, Blackwell Publishing and the Nottingham Institute for Research in Visual Culture 


Nottingham Institute for Research in Visual Culture

University of Nottingham
Lakeside Arts Centre
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 951 3318
fax: +44 (0)115 846 7778