The National Gallery of Art, Washington opens America Collects Eighteenth-Century French Painting

Main facade of the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

The National Gallery of Art, Washington recently opened America Collects Eighteenth-Century French Painting, an exhibition that serves as the first survey of American taste for French 18th-century painting.  It features 68 of the finest examples found in American museums today and tells the story of the collectors, curators, museum directors, and dealers responsible for bringing the paintings across the Atlantic and into the collections they now call home.

The accompanying catalog features 11 essays by an esteemed group of scholars, an extensive exhibition checklist with new provenance information, and an illustrated chronology.  Also, the Gallery just released a new Online Edition in conjunction with the exhibition:  the NGA Online Editions series, Focus Section – French Paintings of the Eighteenth Century.

The web-based Online Editions series is part of an ongoing effort to digitize and provide open access to the Gallery’s permanent collection catalogs and will eventually document more than 5,000 works of painting, sculpture, and decorative arts.  Focus Section – French Paintings of the Eighteenth Century provides rich scholarly content including essays devoted to 20 paintings and their four related artists’ biographies.  Like other Online Editions, this iteration provides free and open access to illustrated scholarly entries, biographies of the artists, and technical summaries.

Other highlights of the features available to researchers include:

  • A customized reading environment:  An adjustable split-screen “reader mode” allows users to view scholarly text alongside images, notes, and comparative figures or to view them in line with the text.
  • Compare and explore images:  An image-comparison tool enables users to view primary and comparative images side by side or to explore technical images via overlay and cross-fading techniques.
  • Ease of research:  The Online Editions toolbar provides pre-formatted citations for an object or biography, easy export, and quick access to archived pages.
  • Archived versions and permanent URLs:  Immediate access to PDFs of earlier versions and the assurance of permanent web addresses are a convenience to students and scholars alike.
  • Enhanced search capabilities:  An interactive search index is driven by an evolving list of terms particular to each area of the collection.

The NGA Online Editions series presents the same authoritative, peer-reviewed scholarship found within the Gallery’s bound volumes but enriched with customized tools for a more dynamic research experience.

(The content of this piece was provided by Isabella Bulkeley).

Statement of Support for the National Endowment for the Humanities

The 18th-Century Common was developed with substantial support from the Wake Forest University Humanities Institute, which itself was founded with generous support from an National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant. We are grateful that NEH funding has enabled an international array of scholars writing for The 18th-Century Common to share research with nonacademic enthusiasts of eighteenth-century studies.

Read the Wake Forest University Humanities Institute’s Statement of Support for the NEH.

Jane Austen Summer Program Presents: 
“200 Years of Persuasion

The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and The Jane Austen Society of North America—North Carolina

June 15 to 18, 2017
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This summer more than 100 people, including Austen fans, established scholars, graduate students, K-12 teachers, and aspiring authors, will have the opportunity to hear expert speakers and participate in discussion groups on Austen’s last completed novel, Persuasion.  Attendees will also partake in an English tea, dance at a Regency-style ball, attend Austen-inspired theatricals, and visit special exhibits tailored to the conference.

They will be attending the fifth-annual Jane Austen Summer Program from June 15 to 18, 2017 to explore this year’s chosen theme: “200 Years of Persuasion.”  The events will take place at the Hampton Inn in Carrboro, NC and at various locations on the UNC-CH campus in Chapel Hill, NC.

The discussions will consider Austen’s last completed novel Persuasion in its historical context as well as its afterlives in fiction and film.  “This year we are so pleased that Jocelyn Harris, a Persuasion expert and a delightful individual, is coming from New Zealand to join us as a keynote speaker,” says Inger Brodey, co-director of the program with James Thompson.  “We will also have a naval historian guide us through the mostly off-stage military dimension of the novel.”

Participants old and new praise the program’s accessibility, innovation, and community-building.  “Last year’s conference on Mansfield Park was my first experience of JASP—and now I’m hooked!,” says Vicky Brandt.  “It’s a wonderful idea to open up an academic conference to the interested public:  everyone should be able to experience the loving inquiry that is the heart of scholarship.  All the presentations were enlightening; the small group discussions lively and insightful; the Saturday evening Regency ball almost as beautiful to watch as the ones we see on film.  In short, I can think of no better way to describe it than with Austen’s own words:  ‘the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation.’”  Attendees express special appreciation for the cultural and historical knowledge exchanged at the program.  Patrick McGraw states, “Over four days, I learned more about Austen’s novel than I ever imagined I could.  I cannot wait to return to UNC-Chapel Hill this coming summer to explore Persuasion.”

For more program information, to see comments and photos from previous programs, or to register, please visit the program’s website janeaustensummer.org/ or follow the program on facebook.com/janeaustensummer or via Twitter, @JASPhotline.  You may also contact us at [email protected].

Elementary and secondary school teachers are encouraged to visit the website for information on available scholarships and continuing education credits.

(This post was made available by Carlie Wetzel, UNC-CH)

We Want You to Get Involved with The 18th-Century Common

The Coffeehous Mob, frontispiece to Ned Ward's Vulgus Britannicus (1710).

The Coffeehous Mob, frontispiece to Ned Ward’s Vulgus Britannicus (1710).

We’re excited to announce new ways to get involved with The 18th-Century Common, the public humanities website for nonacademic, nonstudent enthusiasts of 18th-century studies.

There are two kinds of posts on The 18th-Century CommonFeatures posts and Gazette posts.  In Features posts, scholars describe their own research, whether published or in progress (Read Rebekah Mitsein’s account of how her Features post on The 18th-Century Common helped her on the academic job market).  Features posts can be on existing topics gathered in thematic Collections on The 18th-Century Common, or on new topics.  We also seek new Collection Curators,  who draw on their existing scholarly networks to solicit Features or Gazette contributions from scholars on a specific topic of interest to the Collection Curator.

In Gazette posts, scholars or students situate recent publications by others—whether in academic or popular media—in scholarly contexts.  Gazette posts show how a recent publication participates in the conversations of eighteenth-century scholarship (see, for example, Cassandra Nelson’s Gazette post on a BBC article by Adam Gopnik about the “Mechanical Turk”).  We’re using the content curation plugin PressForward to generate topics for Gazette posts.  PressForward enables 18th-century enthusiasts (nonacademic or academic!) to nominate content from around the web for inclusion in 18th-Century Common Gazette posts by posting a link on Twitter with the hashtag #18common.  We also use PressForward to collect abstracts of new journal publications for possible Gazette posts.  We encourage faculty to incorporate the writing of Gazette posts into their graduate seminars or advanced undergraduate classes.  Writing a Gazette post gives students practice situating work in scholarly contexts as well as practice communicating ideas clearly to an intelligent, nonacademic readership.  Gazette Contributors will have access to a range of possible material for Gazette posts gathered by PressForward; a Gazette Contributor may choose the topic of a post from this material or from other publications.

Read more about these ways of getting involved in The 18th-Century Common:  our Get Involved page includes tutorials on nominating content with the Twitter hashtag #18common as well as on using PressForward to create Gazette posts.  Contact the editors at [email protected] with questions, proposals for Features or Gazette posts, interest in serving as (or assigning your students to serve as) Gazette Contributors, or interest in becoming a Collection Curator.

The Adventures of an 18th-Century Common Post

In 2015 I wrote a Features post for The 18th-Century Common because I will never pass up an opportunity to tell the world about James Bruce, the verbose Scottish explorer who traveled to Abyssinia in the 1760s in search of the source of the Nile.  But beyond the instant satisfaction of sharing something I find fascinating, contributing to a public humanities website turned out to be worthwhile for other reasons:

It was an opportunity to practice translating my research.  In Fall 2015 I was on the job market, faced with the tasks of describing what I study to people outside my field, articulating how I make it interesting and relevant in undergraduate classes, and advocating for its intellectual and social impact.  Reworking even a small piece of my project for a public audience helped me start developing language and examples to communicate its exigency.

It was a quick and open-access way for people to see what I do.  I sent the link to people outside the academy who have been resources for me, and to friends and family who wanted to know more about what I study.  It came up when search committees looked me up online.  Students in the department that I will be joining in the fall read it, and they asked me questions about it during my campus visit.

It had a fast reach.  I recently ran across a web exhibit about the European exploration of the Blue Nile that was put together by a History class at Washington and Lee University.  I was pleased to see my post among their sources and amazed at how quickly it had an impact.

It turned out to be both fun and useful.  And how often does that happen?

Editor’s note:  Learn how you can get involved in public humanities project that is The 18th-Century Common.

The Novels Reviewed Database, 1790-1820 (NRD)

NRD Logo 1

Novels Reviewed Database, 1790-1820 (NRD)

The period from 1790 to 1820 was a significant moment in British women’s literary history.  During this period more women published novels than men, even as the novel was solidifying as a respected literary genre.  By the end of this period the novel was reputable enough a medium for Sir Walter Scott, celebrated poet, to pen the wildly successful Waverly series (1814).  His success, however, came on the backs of the many women novelists who paved the way before him in the previous thirty years.

But what was the contemporary critical response to such a momentous period in the history of the British novel?  The Novels Reviewed Database, 1790-1820 (NRD) seeks to uncover just that.

The NRD is the first and only database to focus on one genre’s historical reception.  Cataloging reviews of novels from the period’s two foremost review periodicals, the Monthly Review and the Critical Review, the NRD brings together book reviews and book market data, providing a repository of criticism reacting in print to this period in the novel’s, and women’s, literary history.

The NRD includes 1,836 book reviews, representing 1,215 novels and 445 identified authors.  It features transcriptions of review criticism as well as data on women writers, novels, and review periodical makeup.  The NRD contains a unique combination of contemporary primary sources that speak to the novel’s solidification as a literary genre during this period, including review articles, advertisements, and novel prefaces, many from archival sources not available digitally.

The NRD also offers a data-set by which distant reading of this period in literary history can be explored, uncovering for the first time the Reviews’ role in shaping our modern novel canon.  Distant reading studies of the novel, such as this study from the NRD of publisher William Lane, offer a new means of asking questions about the history of the novel and how contemporaries experienced its evolution.  Its scope enables the NRD to encourage a broad survey of the literary marketplace in which the novel grew in the late eighteenth century, one that brings forward the many anonymously published and still obscure women novelists from this period that are often neglected in our study of the novel.  The NRD presents opportunities for text mining review criticism, tracing economic market changes in novel production and sales, or publishers’ trends, tracking the novel’s evolving gendered authorship, understanding how reviewers discussed and understood a novel’s authorial gender, and excavating growing genre parameters by which the novel was evaluated and effectively produced.

The NRD is currently in Phase I of three phases of development.  Phase I features transcriptions of review criticism—criticism that due to poor OCR in digital archives and scattered periodicals collections, are currently unavailable to most scholars.  The NRD seeks to make this text corpus available to scholars in an open-access relational database platform.  This platform, Phase II, which introduces a review bibliography, novel publication data, and authorial gender demographics, is under construction with hopes of a 2017 release.  Phase III will provide users with review page images and the ability to read issues of the Reviews in their entirety, tagged review subjects and the power to create their own tagging profile, and a formula builder to manipulate NRD data for their own research.

Jane Austen Summer Program Presents: “Mansfield Park & Its Afterlives”

MP LogoJune 16 to 19, 2016.  Hosted by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and the Jane Austen Society of North America-North Carolina.  

This summer, more than 100 people, including Austen fans, established scholars, graduate students, K-12 teachers, and aspiring authors, will have the opportunity to hear expert speakers and participate in discussion groups on Austen’s most controversial novel, Mansfield Park.  Attendees will also partake in an English tea, dance at a Regency-style ball, join in a Regency-themed pub crawl, and visit special exhibits tailored to the conference.

They will be attending the fourth-annual Jane Austen Summer Program from June 16 to 192016 to explore this year’s chosen theme: Mansfield Park & Its Afterlives.”  The events will take place at the newly-constructed Hampton Inn in Carrboro and at various locations on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill, NC.

The discussions will consider Mansfield Park in its historical context as well as its many afterlives in fiction and film.  According to Inger Brodey, co-director of the program with James Thompson, “Many consider Mansfield Park to be Austen’s most philosophical novel, as well as the most controversial.  Charming villains, temptresses, amusing fools and perfect busybodies:  this novel has something for everyone, and lively discussions among academics and non-academics always produce new insights.”

“Every year we have a theatrical performance,” says Edward Davis, a veteran program participant.  “It’s an original adaptation of one of Jane Austen’s minor works, performed by a group of very talented UNC grad students.  It’s clever and humorous and acted in the spirit she had in mind when she wrote down her first stories.  She would love our little plays.  We do.”  With the help of the Regency Assembly of North Carolina, the Summer Program hosts a Regency Ball at UNC’s Gerrard Hall.  “The Hall dates to 1822, and the candle-lit atmosphere is perfect for bringing Austen’s plots and the Regency period back to life,” says Ruth Verbunt, who, along with her husband, has been instrumental in re-creating these historical moments.

For more program information, to see comments and photos from previous programs, or to register, please visit the program’s website janeaustensummer.org or follow the program at facebook.com/janeaustensummer or via twitter, @JASPhotline.  You may also contact us at [email protected].

Elementary and secondary school teachers are encouraged to visit the website for information on available scholarships and continuing education credits.

(Original post provided by Carlie Wetzel, Teaching Fellow and Doctoral Student, Department of English and Comparative Literature, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.)

Exhibition Announcement: “SWEET 18” Contemporary Art, Fashion, and Design Inspired by the 18th Century

SWEET18_visualA4_englishFor almost four centuries, Hingene Castle (Belgium) was the favorite summer residence of the aristocratic d’Ursel family.  Each summer, the Duke, together with his family and household, would arrive to take up residence in this magnificent stately home.  Today, Hingene Castle is owned by the Province of Antwerp, which has been responsible for restoring this opulent residence to its former glory.

Through 5 July 2015, Hingene Castle will act as the setting for “SWEET 18,” a unique exhibition that explores the 18th century through the eyes of fifty contemporary artists and fashion designers including Erwin Olaf, Wim Delvoye, Walter van Beirendonck, Cindy Sherman, Philippe Starck, and others.

“SWEET 18”:  Contemporary Art, Fashion, and Design inspired by the 18th Century (Kasteel d’Ursel, Hingene, Belgium).  1 May—5 July 2015.  The exhibition is open to individual visitors on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Bank Holidays, from 1 pm to 6 pm.  Group visits, with afternoon tea provided, take place on weekdays between 10 am and 6 pm.  Castle entrance:  8 Euros.

For more information, reservations for group visits, or for a program tailored to individual needs, please write to:  [email protected]

(Original post by Veerle Moens.  Ed. Andrew Burkett)