Conference Programme

Oxford Centre for Life-Writing: Inaugural Conference

The Lives of Objects

20-22 September 2013

Below, you can see the most up-to-date version of the full conference programme for the conference. You can also download it from the right.


Venue: Leonard Wolfson Auditorium (LWA), Wolfson College, Oxford


Thursday 19 September
Delegates who have specially booked Wolfson B&B accommodation for Thursday night can check in from 2pm onwards. Please go to the Porter’s Lodge on arrival, who will provide you with a key and directions to your accommodation. A luggage store is available at Wolfson for delegates arriving earlier than 2pm (you will be directed by the Porters).


Friday 20 September
Breakfast in Wolfson (in the Hall, main college site) for those who have booked
accommodation on Thursday night.


conference registration; coffee and pastries (Leonard Wolfson Auditorium foyer).
If you have booked accommodation, please go to the Porter’s Lodge on arrival. You can check in from 2pm. They will direct you to the luggage store for delegates arriving before 2pm. The conference, and the Leonard Wolfson Auditorium, will be clearly signposted. Please arrive in good time.


welcome speech by OCLW’s director, Professor Dame Hermione Lee (LWA
Lecture Theatre)


The History Faculty Plenary Lecture: Neil MacGregor (British Museum)
Title: ‘And one thing in its time plays many parts’
Chair: Hermione Lee
(LWA Lecture Theatre)


short break


12-1.30pm:                  PANEL SESSION ONE


Panel title: MUSEUMS I

Chair: Susan Walker (Ashmolean)

Venue: Lecture Theatre (ground floor)


Elizabeth Crooke (University of Ulster), 'Autobiography and Contested Histories in Museums'


Kristen Treen (University of Cambridge), ‘‘Sorry Objects’ and ‘Sad Glass Cases’: Mourning the Lost Cause at the Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, VA.’


Louise Tythacott (University of Manchester), ‘The Lives of Objects from the Summer Palace in China’

Panel title: POETICS

Chair: David Bradshaw (University of Oxford)

Venue: Room 1 (ground floor)


Mark Blackwell (University of Hartford), ‘The Poetics of Pulp: the Life of the Book in British Object Tales, 1785-1821’


Paddy Bullard (University of Kent), ‘Joseph Moxon and the Poetics of Handycraft’



Christina Lupton (University of Warwick), ‘From Textile to Text: Imagining the Material Lives of Eighteenth-Century Pages’


Chair: Julie Curtis (University of Oxford)

Venue: Room 2 (first floor)


Hannah Williams (University of Oxford), 'David's Table: Object, Prop, Relic'


Joanne Bloch (University of Cape Town), ‘“An Ugly Old Thing”: the strange tale of the death mask in the UCT archive’


Davina Kirkpatrick (University of West of England), ‘An Enquiry into Red’


lunch at Wolfson (Haldane Room and Buttery; stewards will guide delegates)

Special Session One: Professor Michael Burden (University of Oxford):
‘The Private (and Public) Life of an Opera Aria’
Chair: Hermione Lee
(LWA Lecture Theatre)
*Please note: this session will be recorded*

short break (water available)


Panel title: BOOK HISTORY

Chair: Rebecca Roach (University of Oxford)

Venue: Room 1 (ground floor)


Sabine Wieber (University of Glasgow), ‘Gustav Klimt’s Little Red Sketchbook, 1897-1899’




Mary Breen (University College, Cork), ‘The Exotic Journeys of Three Eighteenth-Century Irish Manuscripts’




Katherine Allen (University of Oxford), ‘‘An Infallible Cure’: Recipe Books and Personal Experience with Illness in Eighteenth-Century English Households’




Chair: Henriette van der Blom (University of Oxford)

Venue: Room 2 (first floor)


Rosa Coles, ‘Jane Carlyle’s decorated folding screen’






Helena Jerman (University of Helsinki), ‘Perceptions of belonging and otherness in the Finnish-Russian borderland: How pieces of culture draw memory and place together’


Margaret Patrikeos (Curtin University), ‘Living Materiality in Writing the Memoir’


Panel title: PORTRAITS

Chair: James Hamilton (University of Birmingham)

Venue: Room 3 (first floor)



Erica Moiah James (Yale University), ‘Painting Oneself into History: Nineteenth-Century Haitian Portraiture as Revolutionary Text’


Elsje van Kessel (University of St Andrews), ‘Biography and Connoisseurship: The Case of a Titian Portrait’



Daniel Vuillermin (University of International Business & Economics, Beijing; and Australian National University), ‘‘Continuing the Presence of the Dead’: The After/Lives of Sir Joshua Reynolds’s Portraits of Dr Johnson’

Panel title: ODDITIES

Chair: Rachel Hewitt (University of Oxford)

Venue: Lecture Theatre (ground floor)



Elizabeth Abel (University of California, Berkeley), ‘The Death of the Object’





Tracey Potts (University of Nottingham), ‘Gnomes Behaving Badly: Social Distinction and the Twisting of Taste’



Tom Scott-Smith (University of Oxford), ‘A Biography of the BP-5: Emergency Food, Modernist Dream, Individual Ration’

afternoon tea (LWA foyer)

5.30-7pm:                    PANEL SESSION THREE


Chair: Voula Saridakis (Lake Forest College)

Venue: Room 2 (first floor)



Alexi Baker (University of Cambridge), 'The Willdey Telescope: Reading the Early Modern Instrument Trade in Gilt Leather and Glass'


Seb Falk (University of Cambridge), 'Chaucer, Price and King Arthur's Table: The Intertwined Lives of an Object, its Designer and its Modern Recreator'


Adam Nicol (University of Western Australia), ‘Nature Read in Truth and Law: Reading Biological Objects in Philip Henry Gosse’s Omphalos

Panel title: METAPHOR

Chair: Rick Hauser (International Institute for Mesopotamian Area Studies)

Venue: Lecture Theatre (ground)


Lisa Kohlmeier (La Sierra University), ‘A Memorial to a Friendship’




Lucy Razzall (University of Cambridge), ‘Curious Statues so Cunningly Contrived': The Early Modern Afterlife of Plato's Silenus'



Steven Wingate (South Dakota State University), ‘Electronic Lives of Physical Objects: Weaving daddylabyrinth


Panel title: LUXURY

Chair: Alice Dolan (University of Hertfordshire)

Venue: Room 1 (ground floor)



Maria Cristache (University of Giessen), ‘China Sets and Crystal Cups: Material Traces of the Communist Past in Romanian Homes’


Alex Belsey (King’s College, London), ‘Living through Objects in the Novels of Joris-Karl Huysmans’



Ana Finel Honigman (University of Oxford), ‘Let ‘er Rip: the Symbolic Significance of Tears in Contemporary Luxury Fashion’


Summer Pimm’s reception (on lawn if weather permits; otherwise Upper Common
Room, main college site)

7.45pm onwards:
dinner (Hall, main college site)

Accommodation in Wolfson for residential delegates (and those who have separately booked accommodation for Friday night)

Saturday 21 September
Cooked breakfast in Wolfson for residential delegates (and those who have
separately purchased accommodation for Friday night) (Hall, main college site)

coffee and biscuits (LWA foyer)

John Fell Plenary Lecture: Edmund De Waal
‘No ideas but in things': making, remembering and story-telling’
Chair: Hermione Lee
(LWA Lecture Theatre)
*Please note: this session will be recorded*

Museum visits: delegates will attend one of the following options. Coaches will
collect delegates by 11.10am outside Wolfson, to take them to their choice of
museum. The coaches will leave at 11.15am.
1. tour of the Ashmolean Museum, and a talk about an object from the museum’s collections by Susan Walker (Keeper of Antiquities)

2. visit to the Pitt-Rivers Museum, and a talk about the museum’s collections by the museum’s director, Michael O’Hanlon

3. tour of the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, and a talk about objects from the museum’s collections by the acting director, Stephen Johnston

delegates to arrange own lunch in central Oxford

Return coaches will collect delegates outside the Taylorian Institute, St Giles (for
those who attended the Ashmolean and Pitt-Rivers trips) or outside Blackwells on Broad Street (for those who attended the Museum of History of Science trip).

2.30-4pm:                    PANEL SESSION FOUR

Panel title: MEMORIALS

Chair: Margaret Patrikeos (Curtin University)

Venue: Room 3 (first floor)


Fredrik Thomasson (Uppsala University), 'The Sigeion Stele: A Tale of Shifting Uses and Values'



Angela Maddock (University of Wales Trinity St David: Swansea's Metropolitan University), 'Lost and Found: Narratives of the Hand-Knitted Sweater'


Lucie Ryzova (University of Oxford), 'Love in a Box'

Panel title: BODY PARTS

Chair: Elizabeth Abel (University of California, Berkeley)

Venue: Room 2 (1st floor)


Mairin Odle (New York University), 'Scalps: Subject as Uncanny Object’



Lee-Von Kim (University of Oxford), 'Objects and Subjects in Claude Cahun's Disavowals'




Emily Ridge (Durham University), 'Biographical Beginnings: The Anatomy of the Woman's Bag' 

Panel title: ARCHIVES

Chair: Laura Marcus (University of Oxford)

Venue: Lecture theatre (ground floor)


Daisy Hay (University of Exeter), 'Locks of Hair and Other Stories'


Pamela Clemit (Durham University), 'Objects of Value: The Afterlives of Letters'


Béatrice Mousli (University of Southern California), ''Into the Writing Zone': Writing Susan Sontag's Biography'


*Please note: this panel will be recorded*

Panel title: TEXTILES

Chair: Ana Finel Honigman (University of Oxford)

Venue: Room 1 (ground)


Janice Helland (Queen's University, Canada), 'Queen Mary's Court Train: Irish Lace and the Last Durbar'


Amy de la Haye (London College of Fashion), 'Cinderellas of the Soil: A Biography of Breeches'


Claire Canavan (University of York), ''[T]hynges that the yembrother wyndes hys golde on': Male and Female Textile Work in the Hardwick Hangings'

afternoon tea (LWA foyer)

4.30-6pm:                    PANEL SESSION FIVE


Chair: Ulrike Roesler (University of Oxford)

Venue: Room 1 (ground floor)


Sandeep Parmar (University of Liverpool), ''The Trinity in Unity': Jane Harrison and Hope Mirrlees's Bear'





Petra Tjitske Kalshoven (University of Manchester), 'Emulation of Material Culture: Object Biography in extenso?'


Louise Bergstrom (European University Institute, Florence), 'The Benin Bronzes'

Panel title: BIOGRAPHY

Chair: Béatrice Mousli (University of Southern California)

Venue: Room 2 (first floor)


Seraphima Kennedy (Goldsmiths College), ''I'm Calling about my Mother...You Got Some of Her Alive in There': Invisible Objects and Narrative Methodologies in Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks'


Siân Smith (University of Oxford), 'Berlin Rock: Fragmentation, Synecdoche and the Power of Stories'


Voula Saridakis (Lake Forest College), “‘World History in the Windy City’: Applying the Methodology of ‘Object Biography’ to College-Level History Courses”

Panel title: PHOTOGRAPHY

Chair: Alexi Baker (University of Cambridge)

Venue: Lecture theatre (ground)


Becky Roach (University of Oxford), ‘‘Writers’ Rooms’: Auto/biography through Objects’




David Zeitlyn (University of Oxford), 'The Short, Uncertain Lives of Photographs in Cameroon'



Christine Fouirnaies (University of Oxford), 'The Life of a Family Album: Private Photographs in Literary Memoirs'


*Please note: this panel will be recorded*

short break

Special Session Two: Professor Hugh Haughton (University of York):

‘Letters as Objects: letters and objects’

Chair: Hermione Lee
(LWA Lecture Theatre)

‘Champagne’ reception (on lawn, if weather permits; otherwise Upper Common
Room, main college site)

7.45pm onwards:
Conference gala dinner (Hall, main college site)

Accommodation in Wolfson for residential delegates ( and those who have separately purchased accommodation for Saturday night)

Sunday 22 September

Breakfast in Wolfson for residential delegates ( and those who have separately purchased accommodation for Friday night). Delegates who have not booked accommodation for Sunday night must check out by 10am,but can leave their luggage in the luggage store.

coffee (LWA foyer)

The English Faculty Plenary Lecture: Jenny Uglow
‘Pinecone and Church: What Kind of Objects, What Sort of Lives?’
Chair: Hermione Lee
(LWA Lecture Theatre)

morning coffee and pastries (LWA foyer)

11.45-1.15pm:             PANEL SESSION SIX

Panel title: ART(EFACTS)

Chair: Emma Hagström Molin (University of York)

Venue: Room 1 (ground floor)



Sara Chong-Kwan (London College of Fashion), ‘Making Sense of Everyday Dress’



Barbara Burman, ‘“If they could speak, would read you lessons”: retrieving the social lives of women’s pockets in the long eighteenth century’


Xiumin Tang (Shanghai Jiaotong University), ‘The Cultural Biography of the Tracings on the Stone Drum, a Type of Chinese Calligraphy’

Panel title: MUSEUMS II

Chair: Seb Falk (University of Cambridge)

Venue: Lecture theatre (ground)


Ruth Horry (University of Cambridge), ‘Doctors, Divination and Sheep’s Livers: the Modern ‘Scientific’ Life of an Ancient Babylonian Model’


Susan Faine, 'The Life Lived: Nina Zyk and the Detritus of a Life'





Deborah Smith (Kennesaw State University), 'Shapeshifter/Sensemaker: The Multiple Meanings of One Memento'

Panel title: SYMBOLS

Chair: Elleke Boehmer (University of Oxford)

Venue: Room 2 (first floor)


Mary Henes, ‘Byron’s Slippers: Paddy Leigh Fermor, Travel and Identity’


Nicholas Perkins (University of Oxford), ''That Swerde Shall be Youre Destruccion': Objects, Stories and Gifts in Thomas Malory's Sworded Romance'


Hedley Twidle (University of Cape Town), 'Obscure White Messenger: Tsafendas, the Tapeworm and the Unusable Past in South African Literature'


*Please note: this panel will be recorded*

seated buffet lunch (Hall, main college site)

WORKSHOP SESSION (each delegate will speak for 5 minutes) (Haldane Room, main college site)
Chair: Georgina Ferry

• Maria Salaru (University of Oxford), ''Souvenirs from the Other Side': A Social Biography of Photographic Postcards in the Tropenmuseum'
• Valeria De Lucca (University of Southampton and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), ‘Resonating Objects, Powerful Voices: Keyboard Instruments and the Early Modern Aristocracy’
• Alice Dolan (University of Hertfordshire), 'Temporal Textiles: Reconstructing the Time Cycles of the Production and Care of an Eighteenth-Century Bed Sheet'
• Serena Dyer (University of Warwick), ‘Gendering the Garment Afterlife: A Case Study of a Pair of Quilted Breeches’
• Alex Woodall (University of Leicester), 'Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary: Rummaging through Forgotten Lives'
• Froukje Pitstra (University of Groningen). ‘A World Discovered: About an Eccentric House and a European Network of Scientists’

closing round table discussion over afternoon tea
Panellists: Michael Burden, Rebecca Roach, Elleke Boehmer, Georgina Ferry
Chair: Rachel Hewitt
(Haldane Room, main college site)

Conference Close

Accommodation is available on Sunday night for delegates who book it separately (ie. it is not included in the residential conference package).


Complete Programme.docDownload
Isaiah Berlin Bust Wolfson College
11 August 2016

The qualified members of the Governing Body of Wolfson College are looking to elect a new President to succeed Professor Dame Hermione Lee on her...

Cancer Research
27 July 2016

An anti-malaria drug could help radiotherapy destroy tumours, according to a Cancer...

12 July 2016

Dr Michael Haslam, post-doctoral Research Fellow at Wolfson College, led...