Christmas Pantomime’s Painted Panoramas

Jim Davis considers what one of the items in our Transporting and Evolving Views Bill Douglas Cinema Museum display reveals about Christmas Pantomimes and scene painters’ careers.

Panorama Publicity Handbill: Theatre Royal, Covent Garden / Roberts’ Moving Panorama in Ten Compartments (EXEBD 77257)

This advertisement for David Roberts’s moving panorama at Covent Garden Theatre reflects an annual aspect of the Christmas pantomime in this period. Held in the Bill Douglas Collection, it represents a series of episodes relating to the Russian advance on Turkey in 1828, after hostilities had broken out subsequent to the Greek War of Independence. A feature of the pantomime at a number of theatres was a moving panorama of around 20 feet high and up to 300 feet in length. This often had nothing to do with the pantomime plot and was based on topical events, enabling well-known scene painters to demonstrate their skills through vast compositions created at great speed. By the late 1820s the two patent theatres, Covent Garden and Drury Lane, were in competition as to who could stage the best pantomime and the best moving panorama, the latter created respectively by David Roberts (1796-1964) and Clarkson Stanfield (1793-1867), both later better known for their easel paintings. Many (but not all) of the moving panoramas created by these two artists were dependent on secondary sources rather than direct experience of the events and locations displayed. They drew frequent applause and were presumably shown to some form of musical accompaniment.

This particular moving panorama featured in Harlequin and Little Red Riding Hood, or The Wizard and the Wolf, first performed at Covent Garden on 26 December 1828. The Morning Chronicle (27 December 1828, 3) considered that nothing compared to it had yet been seen on the stage and that it was applauded throughout, claiming it to be the triumph of the evening with its ‘views of the scenery through which the Russian army marched into Turkey, and the encounters that took place in the course of the last campaign’. More critically, the Examiner (28 December 1828, 7) complained that it had induced ‘an intolerable fit of gaping’. The Times (27 December 1828, 3) acknowledged the diorama as ‘the greatest attraction in the way of scenery’ in the pantomime, adding that ‘The views of St. Petersburgh [sic] and Constantinople are extremely well-executed, and are at once beautiful as paintings, and faithful representations of these two cities. The intermediate parts of the landscape are equally well painted, but are more fanciful’. However, The Times was less happy with other aspects of the panorama, feeling the figures were badly drawn, feeble and ill-coloured, and that these and some aspects of the landscape were plagiarised from the work of other artists. The men and horses depicted in the battle scenes were considered to be in a ‘very vicious and exaggerated style’. These faults were mentioned because the commentator believed an artist of Roberts’s talent owed it to himself to demonstrate greater originality of invention and skill in execution in such a task.

If Roberts was aware of the comments in the Examiner and The Times, he may have found them all the more galling given that both journals heaped considerable praise on the moving panorama commencing at Spithead and concluding at Gibraltar created by Stanfield (a specialist in maritime landscapes), for the Drury Lane pantomime. Although ostensibly friends, they were also rivals and competitors. Roberts claimed Stanfield was one of the reasons for his move from Drury Lane to Covent Garden Theatre in 1826 and confided to his journal in 1829 that Stanfield ‘will stand on little ceremony in pushing aside any who stand between him and his advancement in art—as I afterwards found by sad experience’.

Roberts commenced his career as a scene painter in 1815 at the Edinburgh Theatre Royal, from the gallery of which theatre he had discovered in his youth that ‘the scenery of Aladdin and the Forty Thieves had irresistible charms for me’ and he would often return home to make sketches based on the scenery he had just observed. Theatre scenery rather than the work of great artists was his introduction to painting and perhaps (given the appeal of dramas and pantomimes sourced from The Arabian Nights) one reason for his lifelong fascination with the scenery and buildings of the Middle East, which were to become the subjects of so many of his later works. He also claimed to have learnt about perspective through scene painting, which remained his major source of income until 1830.

David Roberts numbers among several well-known and not so well-known artists and architects whose early experience included employment as theatrical scene painters. These include Stanfield, Augustus Pugin, Charles Marshall (also noted for his dioramas and moving panoramas), John Wilson, Thomas Sidney Cooper and William Leighton Leitch, several of whom have left accounts of their theatrical experiences. Subsequent commentators have sometimes referred to the theatricality of Roberts’s later art works (just as Pugin has occasionally been criticised for the theatrical nature of his architecture). The popularity of the scenery and particularly of the moving panoramas created by Roberts and Stanfield for the theatre certainly begs the question as to the influence of this phase of their work on the way they perceived the world in their easel paintings. Did they help theatre audiences to appreciate the natural world around them through their moving panoramas of the 1820s or did their later work encourage their admirers to see the natural world as a form of theatrical representation?

– Jim Davis

Visit our Transporting and Evolving Views Display at the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum until November 2021.

Wide Angle Photograph of Wilhelm Model Box & Set Designs

Wide-angle photograph of Wilhelm Model Box & Designs
Wide-angle photograph of Wilhelm Theatre Model Box (Ref: TC/O/M/8) with Model Scenary from Aladdin (Ref: TC/O/M/9) courtesy of the University of Bristol Theatre Collection

This image is a digital component of the current display at the University of Bristol Theatre Collection curated as part of this project.

Take a closer look at the Star Trap

Feel free to zoom in on this picture of the University of Bristol Theatre Collection’s Star Trap:

University of Bristol Theatre Collection Star Trap
A Star Trap from the University of Bristol Theatre Collection (TC/M/306)

This image is a digital component of the current display at the University of Bristol Theatre Collection curated as part of this project.

Animated Gifs from the University of Bristol Theatre Collection’s Stereo Cards

Gif made from a stereo card of a Pantomime Audience
Gif made from a Stereo card of a Pantomime Audience, University of Theatre Collection, ref: MM/REF/TH/SU/PA/11
Gif created from A Winter's Tale stereo card
Gif created from A Winter’s Tale Stereo card (1856), University of Bristol Theatre Collection, ref: MM/REF/TH/LO/PRS/4
Gif created from The Shadow Dance stereocard
Gif created from The Shadow Dance, Scene from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (1856), University of Bristol Theatre Collection ref: MM/REF/TH/LO/PRS/4

These gifs are part of the current display at the University of Bristol Theatre Collection curated as part of this project.

Flicking, Feeling, Viewing; Experiencing

In the 2011 I came across a flip book that has fascinated me ever since.

Flipbook of a static trapeze artist, 1897, TW Eggers, New York, Mander & Mitchenson Collection, University of Bristol Theatre Collection, MM/O/32/50.

That summer, as part of my MA, I undertook a placement with the University of Bristol Theatre Collection, (also one of our partners on this project). Working with artist Clare Thornton, I co-curated the Unfurl exhibition that featured this flip book and its partner: a skirt dancer. These two flip books came to stand in for Clare and I, allowing us to have our own presence in the exhibition as each image flicked through on screens within the space. The items we brought together were all chosen for their potential to articulate and visualise Thornton’s interpretation of Deleuze’s Fold1 which centred on the capacity of the shape to conceal, transform and reveal. And, in many ways this particular flip book has continued to unfold itself to me, revealing more hidden corners and layered meanings.

As part of this project, I found myself thinking again about this particular nineteenth century object. One of the things I’ve found fascinating about it is the relationship it reveals between touch, eye and movement. In many ways, it sums up a lot of how I’ve come to think about nineteenth century viewing. (Although, I am a little resistant of words like ‘viewing’ and ‘spectating’ because they risk diminishing the other senses involved).

First patented in 1868 by John Barnes Linnet, the flip book exhibits the characteristics of many nineteenth century optical entertainments such as the thaumotrope and stereoscope. The viewer is guided by the creator and the technology, but controls and activates the promised experience through their bodies. In this case, through the activity of their fingers touching and manipulating printed card. This physical activity and its relationship between hand, eye and perception is one that Tom Gunning argues, when analysing the thaumotrope, had the capacity to open up an imaginative virtual reality. It is through creating motion that the thaumotrope’s seperate bird image and cage image become a single image of a bird fantastically placed in a cage.2 However, in this experience and the flip book’s flicking there is a feedback mechanism triggered as the experiencer receives back the sensation of air disturbed. It is also one that in its invitation to connect solo fingers and a singular pair of eyes contains an intimacy.3 This is a long way from passive spectatorship.

Fast forward to October 2020 and I’m browsing Twitter. An item in The Guardian on flip books and their relationship to early film causes me to think about this item again. I’ve always wondered quite how this series of images came into being. Were the images created for flip books or for some other purpose? Recent scholarship indicates that flip books hold the potential to reveal the big screen’s forgotten films (or their trial runs)4 captured in a portable minature format held within the grasp of a hand.

Follow the fold backwards to somewhere around 2015, and I’m sat at the Albany circus training space in Bristol. In conversation with two of my aerialist friends, the flip book comes in conversation. I have my laptop with me, so I show them the images and we start to discuss repertoire. The aerialist is performing a series of strength moves that include a planche and a meat hook. Interestingly, all of the movements performed in this sequence have been adapted to appear under the trapeze bar, suggesting their sequencing for this specific recording. At the time I’m researching the preeminent international 1920s aerial celebrity, Lillian Leitzel, who was known for revolving her body around her wrist repeatedly in what are termed planche turns. I find myself wondering if this could be one of her female family members? Could the reliance on strength moves like the planche, mean this is her mother, the aerialist, Zoe Pelikan? …or, is that me attempting to impose a narrative that is a little too neat?

Today, as I return to the images of an unnamed aerialist in minature and gigantic form, I find myself wondering if they reveal something more interesting entirely. My work on aerialists has tended to focus on stars because coverage of the lesser acts seldom makes it into printed word or image. Perhaps, this flip book is a window into a performer’s repertoire who didn’t ‘make it’ and whose obscurity let their movements to permanently disappear. Perhaps when I flipped those pages I might have performed a double trick of reconstruction: I might have reactivated the lost film of a forgotten aerialist.5

This thought leads me to try finding out more about TW Eggers using today’s technology. Googling TW Eggers and following the lead on Silent Film’s website to consult Pascal Fouché’s catalogue of his over 10,000 flip books, I find only flip books dated 1897 that cover what probably were vaudeville or variety acts. Here are men boxing, ‘cats’ boxing, the skirt dancer I recognise and various acrobats. This flip book is a snapshot of three different popular entertainments who organised the same visual materials in different ways: minature flip book, lifesize aerialist (albeit with an adapted act) and gigantic film. Only the minature material media remains to tell the story of an enmeshed entertainment industry.

It will be a long time before this particular item will lose it’s fascination for me; an allure that is magnified by the haptic promise it holds.6 I still hope some day to use this historical object and its moving image to produce a creative work that plays with the potentiality of stuttered aerial movement. It is just a little more time until that particular fold will reveal its form and structure…

1 Deleuze, Gilles (2006) The Fold, trans Conley, Tom, London: Continuum.

2 Gunning, Tom (2012) Hand and Eye: Excavating a New Technology of the Image in the Victorian Era, Victorian Studies 54(3): 512-3.

3 Doane, Mary Ann (2009) The Location of the Image: Cinematic Projection and Scale in Modernity, in Stan, D & Eamon, C (eds) Art of Projection, Stuttgart: Hatje Cantz: 153-4.

4 Lecointe, T, Fouché, P, Byrne, R, Hutchinson, P (2020) Discovering the Lost Films of Georges Meliés (1896-1901), New Barnet: John Libbey Publishing.

5 As I’m not a film scholar, I’m unclear if it is actually ‘lost’. All I know is that my initial investigations mean I’ve not found a record of it online (including within Niver, KR, (1985) Early Motion Pictures: The Paper Print Collection in the Library of Congress. Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress.)

6 I use this term deliberately to activate Helen Freshwater’s use of allure, with its capacity to erroneously charm, as it feels like an object that has already suggested deceptive links. Freshwater, H. (2003) ‘The allure of the archive’, Poetics Today, 24(4): 729–58.

Exhibitions Update

Back in 2018 when we started this project, one of my (Kate Holmes’) tasks was to curate two exhibitions with the University of Bristol Theatre Collection and Bill Douglas Cinema Museum. Both of these museums have a huge wealth of holdings related to nineteenth century entertainments.

Theatre and performance historians are already likely to know the significance of the material the University of Bristol Theatre Collection holds, but art historians may be unaware of the artworks relating to theatre and performance they hold. What may be more of a surprise to both is the amount of material Bill Douglas Cinema Museum contains. Don’t be fooled by the name. Bill Douglas holds materials on ‘pre-cinema’ such as magic lantern slides and a range of broader visual entertainments. You can find material on pleasure gardens but also on the diverse panorama that ranged from handheld objects to large scale circular rotunda panorama.

However, as with many things over the last eighteen months, our plans for these exhibitions have had to change as both were due to open in the Spring and Summer of 2020. In the months that followed we repeatedly revised our plans and have finally taken the decision that the exhibitions we planned aren’t going to be sensible in their original format. For that reason, we’re going to be putting on smaller displays in both archives and concentrate on putting a little more material online.

…watch this space for more…

New Connections: Our Association for Art History session, ‘Theatre, Art and Visual Culture in the Nineteenth Century’

Patricia Smyth

John Parry, A London Street Scene, 1835, Alfred Dunhill Coll.

Our session at the Association for Art History conference this year brought together six scholars working at various points of intersection between art history and theatre history. The interdisciplinary nature of the ‘Theatre and Visual Culture’ project is reflected in the makeup of our team, but so far our main academic networks have tended to be in theatre and performance, so this occasion was important to us as an opportunity to connect with art historical research in the field of nineteenth-century transmediality and to open a dialogue with art historians that we hope will lead to future collaborative work. This year’s AAH conference was hosted online via the Aventri platform. While we felt the loss of the social interaction and informal chats of a live event there was an unanticipated upside to going online in that all of us were asked to pre-record our papers in case of illness or technical failure on the day. We didn’t need to use these during the conference, but we are now able, with the blessing of the AAH conference organisers, to offer those recordings to anyone who may not have been able to attend our session. 

The session got off to a flying start with Marika Takanishi Knowles’ paper on French féerie and Romantic visual aesthetics. Marika proposed some fascinating connections, not just between art and theatre and between what we regard as ‘high’ culture and commercial entertainment, but also between Britain and France in the form of a line of influence from Constable’s showing of The Haywain at the Salon of 1824 to the gas-lit and spangled mise en scène of French féerie. Moving between works by the French artist and devotee of Constable, Paul Huet, and the landscape tableaux of féerie, Marika revealed a common identification of atmospheric effects of dappled light, air, and humidity as markers of the ‘real’. As art historians are aware, painting of the period was thought to embody certain national characteristics, Constable’s landscapes exemplifying what was regarded as a distinctively British interest in natural light and atmospheric effects. However, Marika highlighted an important issue in showing the extent to which the field of optical entertainments and stage technologies traversed these distinctions. Central to her argument was the issue of the moving image. While British pantomime typically included a moving panorama as part of the evening’s entertainment, French féerie offered landscape tableaux of shimmering ‘micro movements’ in which a combination of light and reflective surfaces evoked the movement of wind through trees and dappled sunlight.

Elena Cooper’s illuminating account of the legal context of nineteenth-century transmediality revealed changing attitudes toward the circulation of specific compositions and motifs between media, which was such a dominant practice in this period. Elena offered us a fascinating insight into the paradoxical relationship between aesthetic and legal frameworks. As she argued, the practice of realization, in Martin Meisel’s definition, the ‘translation into a more real, that is more vivid, visual, physically present medium’ of a given image was only possible within a legal definition of the arts as fundamentally different. Hence, the artist John Martin was unsuccessful in his attempt to stop the exhibition of a copy of his Belshazzar’s Feast at the British Diorama in 1833. Elena described how resistance to this practice in the late nineteenth century, often on the part of artists, was driven by concerns not only about lost income, but also about potential damage to their reputation, as highlighted in one case in which works of art were realized as ‘living pictures’ on the stage of the Empire Palace Theatre. The issue of copyright law is currently a focus of great interest for art historians and it certainly prompts some important questions with regard to nineteenth-century transmediality. In the discussion that followed, we wondered how the concerns about respectability that Elena described may be mapped onto the reassertion of the boundaries between the arts that is a feature of modernist discourses. 

We were thrilled to be able to include Stephen Bann in our second pair of papers, especially given his pioneering work on artists such as Paul Delaroche, a key figure in the emergence of a new kind of transmedial visual culture in this period. It would not be an overstatement to say that Stephen’s open-minded approach to Delaroche in his monograph of 1997 made it possible for those of us that followed to reconsider this artist, long regarded merely as a retrograde foil to the modernist narrative. Both my own paper and Stephen’s dealt with the genesis of Paul Delaroche’s Assassination of the Duc de Guise, a picture that was subsequently remediated in countless variations, as well as on stage, in a number of films and, most recently, in a virtual reality attraction at the chateau of Blois, where Guise’s murder took place in 1588. My analysis of the relationship between this picture and Alexandre Dumas’ groundbreaking Romantic drama Henri III et sa cour of 1829 is indebted to Stephen’s earlier work, in particular his identification of a set of Delaroche’s drawings as a response to that production. While I explored the connections between one painting and one play as a lens through which to consider the relationship between the arts in a broader sense, Stephen uncovered an intricate network of influence reaching further back into the 1820s. The Duc de Guise has for some time been recognized as the model for a new kind of history painting in which the viewer is invited to reconstruct a violent event through contemplation of its disorganized aftermath. It was therefore fascinating to see how much Delaroche owed to a series of paintings and prints dealing with the motif of the aftermath of a duel, a subject that, for contemporary viewers, was threaded through with complex political meanings. 

We finished the session with a final pair of papers from Sophie Thomas and Gülru Çakmak, which both in their different ways dealt with attempts to revivify the classical past and, in particular, with the emotional response of the spectator. Sophie’s probing account of staging Pompeii moved between a range of nineteenth-century media, from optical entertainments such as Robert Burford’s panorama of The Ruins of Pompeii, to paintings including John Martin’s The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum, theatrical productions, and amusement park ‘pyrodramas’ to consider the cultural factors driving audiences’ desire to witness time and again the destructive power of Vesuvius. Sophie explored the influence of Edward Bulwer Lytton’s novel The Last Days of Pompeii on artistic and theatrical representations, but artefacts unearthed during archaeological excavations emerged as just as important to the affective power of Pompeii. 

Gülru Çakmak brought us back to the present day with a paper on the contemporary artist Yadegar Asisi’s Pergamon Panorama, which, housed in a specially constructed building under the auspices of the Berlin State Museums, offers a 360-degree bird’s eye view of the Hellenistic city during a festival day in the year 129 CE. While Asisi’s panorama is dependent on twenty-first century absorptive digital technologies, Gülru drew out the consonances between contemporary museum practice and nineteenth-century paintings by Jean-Léon Gérôme and Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Asisi’s decision to represent the altar and its precincts bloodied by sacrificial offerings has a precedent, Gülru argued, in works such as Gérôme’s La Rentrée des félins, which presents the viewer with the mutilated remains of Christian martyrs following a day’s ‘entertainment’ at the Roman circus. As with Gérôme’s scene of carnage, Asisi’s panorama creates an ‘unstable position of oscillation’ for the spectator, who feels both implicated in the visual pleasure of violence and distanced from an historical moment viewed from a position of hindsight. This paper, like Sophie’s, was concerned with the theme of decadence. Just as nineteenth-century Londoners recognised in Pompeii a city of excess on the brink of inevitable disaster, Gülru drew out the present-day associations of ancient Pergamon with themes of violence and self-indulgence. 

The theme of historical rupture united these two papers, and also ran through my own. The sense of history as ‘radically separate’, in Gülru’s phrase, may be traced to the nineteenth-century and continues as a feature of our own experience. We yearn for a past that is always just out of reach, our attempts to recreate it in all its material detail stemming from a desire for sequentiality that can never really be satisfied. Such were my thoughts following a richly stimulating session. Thank you to all our speakers and to the conference organisers Cheryl Platt and Claire Davies for making it possible.

See and hear these papers for yourself on our YouTube Channel:

2020 Project Conference: identity, invention, and agency

Patricia Smyth

Kitty Lord’s ‘symmetricals’, ©  Museum of London

This year’s project conference on ‘Embodied Spectatorship’ focussed on the body, inviting participants to consider the spectator’s share in the theatrical experience. Over two highly engaging days of papers and discussion, some key themes emerged. The question of identity ran through several presentations. We talk about a new kind of modern spectator in the nineteenth century, but how do issues of class, gender, race, and national or regional identity complicate this idea? Martyn Jolly’s paper on ‘The Flying Dutchman or the Phantom Ship’ examined the ways in which this phantasmagoric spectacle was tailored to appeal to the particular sensibilities of colonial audiences, while Alessandra Grossi discussed the social makeup of spectators for classical burlesque, and Jennifer Schacker considered what Joseph Grimaldi’s racialised performance in a pantomime of the Cinderella story may tell us about the attitudes and expectations of the Drury Lane audience.

The nineteenth century still tends to be associated with the notion of ‘passive’ viewing, but the question of the spectator’s agency was threaded through papers that drew our attention to audiences’ capacity for self-fashioning. In her discussion of the ‘swell’, Alessandra proposed that the classical burlesque performances patronised by these fashionable men-about-town both parodied and reinforced their own masculine identity, while Ani Bezirdzhyan considered the performativity of the costermonger subjects photographed to illustrate Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor.

The themes of technology and innovation have always been central to our inquiry, and this conference raised some important questions about this aspect of nineteenth-century visual culture. In her intriguingly titled paper on ‘Panoramas and Dioramas as Simulation Mechanisms’, Sofia Quiroga Fernandez traced a trajectory of ever-increasing transparency in the production of immersive experiences throughout the century. On the other hand, in his account of lithographic theatre posters, Martin Maryška foregrounded the issue of medium, inviting us to imagine the experience of nineteenth-century urbanites confronted by a city of competing and often contradictory images. In their evocations of two contrasting types of attention, both papers spoke to the broader (and ever-elusive) question of how we can recapture the sensations of historical spectators.

One of the most striking aspects of this conference was the variety and inventiveness of the methodologies that participants brought to the table, among which Jed Wentz’s performance of ‘The Raven’ using the American operatic singer David Bispham’s original score incorporating text, music and photographs of his ‘affective attitudes’ was particularly memorable. Viv Gardner’s examination of costumes worn first by the cross-dressing 5th Marquis of Anglesey and later bought by male impersonator Vesta Tilley at his bankruptcy sale, where some items were incorporated into an impromptu comic turn by ‘faithful Jerry, the auctioneer’s man’, drew out the layered significance invested in these garments. Veronica Isaac’s evocative paper on variety artist Kitty Lord’s ‘symmetricals’ (padded pale pink tights designed to bestow the desired silhouette) also focused on costume, proposing an approach to performance history through the stories told by wear, damage, and repairs.

Kitty Lord (1881-1972) ‘Chanteuse Excentrique Anglaise’ c.1900-1910. © Harvard Library 

See our current call for papers for details of this year’s project conference on ‘Modern Visuality in Nineteenth-Century Performance’, 31 August to 3 September 2021.

CFP 2021 Conference: Modern Visuality and Nineteenth Century Performance

Grieve Family, Design for a Diorama of Paris for a Covent Garden production, Special Collections, Senate House Library.

University of Exeter

31 August – 3 September 2021

Keynote speakers:

Michael Gamer, University of Pennsylvania 
David Taylor, Oxford University

The nineteenth century is associated with the transformation of traditional ways of life, rapid technological advances, radical changes to the environment, and the emergence of new conceptions of subjectivity. Theatre was central to the culture of this period, so how far did it reflect or shape the experience of modernity? The Modernist experiments of the latter part of the century used to take centre stage in discussions about modernity, but how far can the popular, commercial theatrical culture of this period be seen as the locus of an emergent modern aesthetic?

This is the third and final conference of our project investigating nineteenth-century stage spectacle, the viewing practices associated with it, and its relationship to the wider visual culture of this period. With this event, we return to one of our core concerns: to consider nineteenth-century spectacle as a new and experimental form and as both a facet and product of modernity. We welcome ideas for papers on all aspects of the visual culture of theatre, from theatrical ephemera to links with the world of ‘high’ art, to new spectacular and immersive technologies. We particularly welcome submissions that bring questions of methodology to the fore, offering new contexts through which we may understand the theatrical spectacle of this period.

Possible questions/themes include, but are not limited to:

  • How far were increased connections between theatre and visual art in this period rooted in popular (as opposed to elite) culture?
  • What attitudes, prejudices, and/or desires were brought to bear in discussions of theatrical spectacle in this period?
  • How did the transformation of urban space and other aspects of modernity impact on theatrical spectacle and its reception?
  • What is the relationship of theatre and performance to immersive technologies such as the Panorama and the Diorama?
  • How can theories of perception and visuality enable us to rethink the nature of theatrical spectacle in this period?
  • Popular spectacle continues to be associated with the notion of ‘passive viewing’ and political inertia. What evidence is there for the agency of spectators in the active construction of meaning?
  • How did the spaces of nineteenth-century performance prime spectators for certain types of engagement?

The deadline for proposals is 17 May 2021.

We are hoping that this will be a hybrid conference with the option to present either in person or remotely; however, this will of course be subject to developments this year and we may need to go fully online. Having taken last year’s ‘Embodied Spectatorship’ conference online, we will be including in this event papers originally scheduled for 2020, but which could not be fitted into the online programme. For that reason, we are only able to accept a limited number of new papers in response to this new call.

Given current uncertainty about whether the conference will be hybrid or fully online, we assume that, in submitting a paper, you are committed to taking part in either capacity. Also, since this will be an international event, we expect that all participants will be happy to have the recording of their paper available to delegates for a limited time (password protected).

This call for papers has closed.