Centre for Studies in Literature

Postgraduate Conference 2015

Collectors and Collecting from the Early Modern Period to the Present

New India Museum

Friday 5th June 2015, University of Portsmouth

For centuries humans have conceptualised their identities through the activity of collecting. The practice of defining culture, space and time through interactions and relationships with objects appears to be a recurring feature of human history and has led to a long tradition of memorialising the past in libraries, museums, archives and personal collections. Since civilisation began, there has been an ever-increasing trend for collecting objects, from exotic souvenirs of antiquity to photograph albums, objets d’art to folk tales and songs, literary mementoes to governmental archives. In recent years, this has led to the meaningful objectbeing explored and theorised in many disciplines, including literature, art and museums studies, to name but a few.

This conference aims to look at all aspects of collecting from early modern collections of souvenirs to Victorian forms of control through categorisation and the nostalgic renewal of past forms; from the eclectic juxtapositions of Modernism all the way through to today with modern creative uses of the archive, fandom and cult collectors.

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Keynote Speaker: Professor Susan Pearce

Our keynote speaker is Professor Susan Pearce, currently Professor Emeritus of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, who has written extensively on the meaningful object, and the interrelations between individuals and artefacts. She is the editor of The Collectors Voice vol. 1-4 (2002), and On Collecting: An Investigation Into Collecting in the European Tradition(1995) and the author of Objects of Knowledge (1990).


Download the programme: Collectors and Collecting 2015

For this interdisciplinary conference, papers will dicuss aspects of collection, the practices of collectors and the representation of collections in museum studies, history and the arts including literature, film, and visual art. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Collectors and collections from the perspective of literary, film and art history disciplines
  • The representation of collections and collectors in literature and film
  • Collections in Museums, archives, libraries and galleries
  • Literary collections and literary collectors
  • Fandom and cult collecting
  • The Imperial Archive and postcolonialism
  • Expanded definitions of the collection – countries, people, memories
  • The psychology of collecting and habits of collecting
  • The history of collecting; the relations of collecting to history
  • Collections of: photography, manuscripts, souvenirs, postcards, stamps, naturalists’ collections (insects etc.),      books, music, stories, autographs, magazines, albums and scrapbooks, letters, life-writing etc.
  • Theories of the collection including thing theory, archive theory, object theory, museum theory and cultural memory theory
  • Subjectivity and objectivity in the collection
  • Experiences of researching the collection and fictional researchers

Further Information

For further information, please contact cslpgconf@port.ac.uk or visit the Collectors and Collecting conference blog.