Monday, 12 December 2011

Visual Culture Event at University of Exeter

'Narrative, History and Memory: Representing World War I in African American Visual Culture'
Celeste-Marie Bernier
12 December 2011, 5:00pm
Free Event. Advance booking recommended via
Lecture followed by a drinks reception.

This is the second of five lectures by visiting speakers throughout 2011/12 to mark the launch of the Visual Culture initiative at the University of Exeter. Celeste-Marie Bernier is Associate Professor of American Literature at the University of Nottingham, and has worked extensively on African American Visual Culture, in particular representations of slavery and race. This talk addresses the widespread neglect of African American artist, Horace Pippin, within European American as well as African American art history, and will recontextualise, retheorise and reexamine his life and works with a particular emphasis upon his World War I paintings and illustrations.
More particularly, this talk will investigate his self-reflexive relationship to aesthetics, narrative, politics and history as he dramatised his 'life story of art' across diverse drawings, illustrations and oil paintings as well as his unpublished prose and correspondence.
The lecture extrapolates from Pippin's experiences as a combat soldier fighting in front line trenches and suffering from horrific, racist conditions. It will examine Pippin's insistence that art was a way to exorcise his 'blue spells' but also to re-evaluate his work in relation to his declarations of artistic independence, as he informed his sponsors, "Don't tell me how to paint." In this regard, this lecture will problematise popular representations of Pippin variously as an untutored naïf, a spiritual visionary and an indigenous painter in order to examine his significance as an artist, period.In forceful ways, Pippin's dramatic canvases and sketches bear witness to his powerful conviction, "I cannot forget suffering and I will not forget sunset."

Thursday, 1 December 2011

100 Years of Fan Magazines

October 2011 is the 100th anniversary of the film fan magazine!
The publication of the very first issue of ‘The Pictures’ marked the birth of a rich 100 year history of film magazines, and Exeter's Bill Douglas Centre archive holds a copy of this first edition, amidst a wealth of other fan papers spanning the history of cinema.
To commemorate, a short piece offering a brief history of the British fan magazine and my research with these objects in the archive is now up on the University of Exeter homepage news and events section, and also in the Western Morning News.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Thank you!

With the Interfaces conference now over, Jen and I would just like to say a big thank you to all who helped make the event a success--it was fantastic to meet everyone, and the quality of papers was extremely high. We will keep the conference blog alive as a hub for any relevant future events or initiatives, so please do check in now and then, and let us know if there's anything anyone would like posted here.
Thank you once again to all those who presented, chaired and attended. We hope you all had a safe journey home and wish you all the best with your research!

Lisa and Jennifer

The New History Lab

Please follow the link above for The New History Lab blog, a fantastic initiative led by conference delegate Gillian Murray of the University of Leicester. The New History Lab is run by History postgraduates for postgraduates of all disciplines who are interested in history.

Lab programme for the current term:
27/1 - New Year's Research Resolutions
4/2 - History Idol - Leicester's Got Talent
18/2 - A History of Leicester in 10 Objects (with The Attic)
2/3 - Mad Men Screening
4/3 - Mad Men Lab
18/3 - Jonathan Foyle: Buildings and Places, conveying history in the 21st Century
1/4 - The Interview - Julie Etchingham talks broadcasting, journalism and women in the media

Monday, 31 January 2011


Here is the link to the Sistershow blog, where you will be able to access the oral histories that could not be played on Saturday:

Thursday, 28 October 2010


Registration for the Interfaces event is now active on the conference webpages.

To register, please visit the College of Humanities webpages:

Conference fee (includes buffet lunch and tea and coffee throughout the day ): £15
Please direct all enquires to Lisa ( and/or Jennifer (

Friday, 6 August 2010

Beyond Text: short research pieces, example 3

'Lolita –Star as intertextual symbol'
Stephen C. Kenyon, Glyndwr University

“What drives me insane is the twofold nature of this nymphet...”

The opening sequence of Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita (1967) ushers in evocations of Classical Hollywood, a smoothly flowing rhythm of fascination and seduction, disembodied forms caressing and permitting to be caressed, beckoning in a stylistic counterpoint of obsession, fetish and containment.

What follows, is Quilty: An ephemeral, implacable object, as disembodied as the severed personas of the opening sequence. Quilty, as Sellers, as Spartacus, and back again, a textual interface and intertextual star persona;

“...I’m Spartacus. Have you come to free the slaves or something?”

These first utterances would seem to provoke an initial sense of intertextual familiarity and reassurance for the viewer. Yet this image, of a drunken ghost manifesting from underneath a burial shroud, simultaneously places Kubrick’s previous film (Spartacus) to the forefront of consciousness and extricates it via the ridiculous nature of its arrival. The sheet wearing decadent operates as a visual throwback to a work that was, on a production and artistic level, an unsatisfactory exploration for the director. The character as image is operating as an intertextual inversion of itself, undermining the value of previous expression.

“Roman ping, you’re supposed to say roman pong.”

The return of serve is not answered by a corresponding rally, at least not by Quilty, this is a game played by Sellers as Star performer; the robed jester, the backwoods banjo playing letter reader, the boxer, the pianist, and finally, behind a bullet ridden painting the chameleon meets his demise, transferring wholly to image, to artefact.

A Kubruckian muse interlinking the star laden, top-heavy Kirk Douglas extravaganza of Spartacus, the reeling and chaotic opening sequences of Lolita, and projecting ahead to the multi-faceted black comedy performance of Dr Strangelove (1964), Sellers’ fractured, kaleidoscopic performance operates not simply as a “twofold nymphet”, but as a cohesive triumvirate meta-textual device between the three films.

Text by Stephen C. Kenyon, Senior Lecturer in Screen Studies, Glyndwr University, August 2010.