This week, art curator Katy takes over the account, and will be thinking about how we see and record the world, as well as what it actually means to be a curator. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing her photographs of shadows!
Hello, my name’s Katy, although in the Twittersphere I’m better known as @SpoonsonTrays. Despite appearances, I know comparatively little about spoons (or trays) although I do now collect them, as well as spotting them at 20 paces in any museum, thanks to how people have picked up on myhttp://www.spoonsontrays.com and Twitter handle.
I’m an art curator, historian and blogger. My day job is Curator of Art, pre-1800 at Royal Museums Greenwich, where I’ve worked for about 18 months on a number of exciting projects. My Twitter account is very much my own thing, as will be my week on ‘We the Humanities’, but I inevitably spend time talking about my job. I’ve just opened an exhibition that brings the history of our site and collections together with a contemporary art commission. Unseen: The Lives of Looking by Dryden Goodwin seems particularly suited to ‘We the Humanities’ as it’s all about how we see and record the world. It’s thoroughly interdisciplinary, mixing art, astronomy, surgery, law and more.
Interdisciplinarity is something I’m interested in more broadly. Although I’m an art curator, I did my PhD in a history of science department on the cultural history of the longitude problem in the eighteenth century. I’ve written a lot about that on our research project blog. If you’d like to know more. I’m interested in how both the sources and methodologies of different disciplines can usefully inform each other. Of course I also think objects are central to that.
When I’m not working or thinking about these sorts of big disciplinary questions, I tend to be found in a museum or gallery visiting exhibitions. I tweet a lot as I go around these as I find it a useful means of distilling my thoughts. I also often end up having interesting conversations with fellow enthusiasts on Twitter during my visit. I’ll be continuing that practice while I’m curating the ‘We the Humanities’ account, as well as sharing my love of photographing shadows.
And then there’s that word ‘curating’. There’s endless discussion among museum people and on social media about whether the word curating is overused and inappropriate to many of its new contexts. Can I curate a Twitter feed? I’d love some responses on that during my week.
This week, we welcome the lovely (because we know her) Verity Burke, a fellow post-grad at the University of Reading with whom Jess and I share a cupboard (pretending to be an office) and copious amounts of sugar-based treats. Verity will be sharing with you her thoughts on her collections-based research, focusing on 19th-century readings of the body, and her experiences the fine line we all tread as post-grads between the work we want to do and the work we have to do to survive.
Hello there! My name is Verity Burke (I tweet at @dicksnensian, do stop by and say hi) and I’m excited to be curating We The Humanities this week. I’m a collections-based literature PhD student at the University of Reading (@uniofreading, @UniRdg_English and @UniRdg_SpecColl), UK. Like many doctoral students, I balance the delights of research with teaching, mentoring, and other breadcrust-earning jobs (while wondering whether Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” actually applies to any career these days https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaERHs8Q93E).
My thesis utilizes collections-based research to explore the epistemology of anatomy in the nineteenth-century popular imagination, through examining the intersections between science, medicine and literature. What this really means is that I analyse the representation of the anatomical body in a myriad of texts from my chosen collection, the Cole Library of Early Medicine and Zoology – from the fabulously named Holmes Cootes’s The Homologies of the Human Skeleton (1849) to Claude Bernard’s Introduction to Experimental Medicine (1865) – alongside popular nineteenth-century literature, such as H.G. Wells’ “Triumph of a Taxidermist” (1894) to draw out issues of “reading” the body. I’m currently working on a chapter that considers taxidermy, the anthropomorphized body and “articulation” as epistemological pathways in Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend, after re-reading it for the Our Mutual Friend twitter project (see @DickensOMF and #omftweets).
I’m looking forward to discussing the use of collections, and the intersections between science and medicine, art and literature (my research centres on the nineteenth century, but I’d love to hear about research in other areas too). Perhaps we’ll drop into a bit of gory Victorian crime, and chinwag about living the research experience more generally, over a nice slice of cake and a digital cuppa.