Centre for Studies in Literature

Conference 2015: Julia Margaret Cameron - A Bicentenary Conference

3-5 July 2015, University of Portsmouth

Keynote Speakers

  • Joanne Lukitsh (Massachusetts College of Art and Design)
  • Marion Wynne-Davis (University of Surrey)
  • Lindsay Smith (University of Sussex)

About the conference

Julia Margaret Cameron

The 2015 bicentennial anniversary of Julia Margaret Cameron’s birth was a timely opportunity for a reappraisal of the interdisciplinary significance of her work. The last twenty years have witnessed growing art-historical and literary interest in this pioneer of Victorian photography, yet much remains to be said about the range and import of her cultural influences, as well as her participation in Victorian debates surrounding the arts and sciences, religion and philosophy.

While scholarship on the interrelations between Victorian visual and verbal cultures has flourished in the past two decades, Julia Margaret Cameron’s contribution to this paradigm has received relatively little attention. With the exception of her photographic illustrations of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, her engagement with biblical, classical and literary narratives has been overlooked. Similarly, the critical focus on Cameron’s photographic portraiture has occluded her participation in wider Victorian artistic, scientific, philosophic and religious discourses.

This conference aimed to generate renewed interest in Cameron’s intellectual and aesthetic exchanges with Victorian artists, theorists, writers, and scientists. Planned to coincide with the 2015 bicentenary celebrations of her birth, it debated the importance and legacy of her cultural contribution; emphasised the interdisciplinary appeal of her photography; and examined her significant engagement with key aspects of Victorian technical and cultural innovation.

The conference included an evening performance of Virginia Woolf’s Freshwater: A Comedy and an organised tour to Dimbola Museum and Galleries, Julia Margaret Cameron’s home in Freshwater, Isle of Wight.

Topics included:

  • Cameron and Victorian celebrity
  • The Freshwater Circle
  • The Little Holland House Circle
  • Victorian women photographers
  • Cameron and the literary muse
  • Cameron and aesthetic/religious philosophy
  • Cameron, Herschel and scientific innovation
  • Virginia Woolf and the Cameron family
  • Cameron and the Pre-Raphaelites
  • Cameron in contemporary fiction


Download the Julia Margaret Cameron Bicentennial Conference programme

Further information

For more information, please contact Drs Patricia Pulham and Charlotte Boyce at jmcbicentenary@port.ac.uk

image: The May Queen, used by permission of Dimbola Museum and Galleries.