The Visual and the Verbal’, a skills-based training event for postgraduate students using material held at the Ruskin Library, Lancaster University on Wednesday 20th May.
The Ruskin Library holds the largest collection of material relating to the life and work of John Ruskin (1819-1900), one of the most important cultural figures of his era in the English-speaking world. Among the most important manuscripts in the collection are 29 diary notebooks, covering the period 1835 to 1888, and c. 4000 manuscript letters. Also in the Library are over 1000 drawings by Ruskin, with others by his associates and pupils, and 125 plates from his collection of daguerreotypes, one of the most important collections of early photographs in the world dating from 1845-1858. The strength of the archive lies in its breadth and depth, enabling research in a number of disciplines, and it will be used at our event to teach the research skills required for work with both manuscript and visual materials. Students working in English, History, Museum Studies, Visual Arts, Art History are welcome to apply for this event.
The event will feature a combination of teaching methods, including intensive, practical hands-on sessions with Ruskin’s manuscripts. The event is being supported by the North West Doctoral Training Consortium. There are limited spaces but the training is open to both AHRC and non-AHRC funded students in the North West. Those nearing the end of their PhDs will be given preference (see below for details on how to apply). The students participating will be asked to prepare a five-minute presentation on their work in advance and to do some advanced reading.
10-11am: introductory seminar discussing what it means to do interdisciplinary research.
11am-12.30pm: students will give their presentations focusing on the ways in which their work is interdisciplinary and on their use of manuscript and/or visual sources. The postgraduate presentations will be filmed and made available on our website.
12.30pm-lunch: students will walk round the current Ruskin Library exhibition (Returned Triumphant: Loans to the Ottawa and Edinburgh exhibition ‘John Ruskin: Artist and Observer’).
2-3.30pm: there will be a hands-on session, where students will work with the full range of archive holdings held in the Ruskin Library, including Ruskin’s manuscript diaries, letters and notes to drawings, watercolours, engravings and photographs. We will teach skills of manuscript handling, palaeography, cataloguing, and discuss issues of transcription and editing.
4-5pm: there will be a workshop on approaches to the visual and verbal; this will focus on the nineteenth-century ‘ut pictura poesis’ debate (‘as in painting so in poetry’) and consider how we can attempt to approach the relationship between meaning in visual and verbal forms by means of analogy; semiotics or the concept of the ‘imagetext’.
5-6pm: there will be a practical session on the use of the notebook and forms of notation as research tools in the museum and archive. The workshop will offer guidance and examples of good practice of how to purposefully apply visual scrutiny, and students will draw from material held in the Ruskin collection.
The teaching team, all from Lancaster University, will include: Professor Sally Bushell (English and Creative Writing), Dr Gerald Davies (Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Art), Dr Andrew Lacey (Senior Research Associate, Davy Letters Project), Professor Sharon Ruston (English and Creative Writing), Dr Andrew Tate (English and Creative Writing), Professor Stephen Wildman (Professor of the History of Art and Director of the Ruskin Library and Research Centre; also former Curator of Fine Art at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery).
To apply: students need to submit a 500-word abstract of their current research, stating why this event will be of use to them. Please also submit an estimate of travel costs to Lancaster for this event with your application. Applications should be submitted by Friday 10th April. Applications and enquiries should be addressed to Prof Sharon Ruston, email@example.com
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