Other Archival Projects
"Navigating the Tensions Between Art Pottery and the
Victorian Mass Market"
Victorian Mass Market"
This project developed out of my coursework on British Design History, a three-week intensive taught by the American Material Culture program at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. In addition to researching Winterthur's collections, the project involved fieldwork on art pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, as well as archival research conducted at the British Library in London, UK. The project culminated in an essay and presentation for the Winterthur faculty, staff and donors in February 2019 and a follow-up presentation at the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals conference in Brighton, UK, in July 2019.
While the growth of Victorian print and material culture go hand-in-hand, their connection evokes the classic chicken-and-egg conundrum: which comes first? This project attempts to answer this question by examining the multifaceted work of illustrator, author and British designer, J. Moyr Smith. Smith regularly contributed illustrations to such publications as Punch, Art Journal, Little Folks, and the Girl’s Own Paper, in addition to illustrating (and authoring) books of fairy tales, Shakespeare’s plays, and children’s literature. As his career progressed, he took his fanciful designs into the decorative arts, designing ceramicware, tiles and other material products for the middle-class and luxury markets. Thus, as an artist and designer, Smith was fully aware of a growing mass market predicated on consumers’ social ability to afford leisure. Characters people read about in print could now be purchased in the form of decorative tile, dessert plates, wallpaper, or even furniture. Material objects therefore become not just utilitarian items of everyday use – they become status symbols of one’s ability to afford pleasing decoration. By fluidly moving back and forth between print and material culture, Smith’s work embodies a complex, layered story about the nature of Victorian consumerism and the politics of pleasure.
"The Disruptive Power of Frame Narratives in Mary Shelley's Keepsake Tales"
My Master's thesis relies on archival research conducted on Mary Shelley's manuscripts at The Carl H. Pfzorheimer Collection of the New York Public Library. My week-long archival visit was generously funded by a Graduate Research Grant from the University of St. Thomas Department of English. Please note that at the time, the archive did not allow photography within the archive.
Thanks to the success of Frankenstein, scholars have begun to analyze one of Mary Shelley’s signature techniques, the frame narrative, within her other novels. However, scholarly discourse on the subject routinely leaves out one aspect of Shelley’s oeuvre that has received relatively little attention in general — her short stories for The Keepsake (1828-1857). In this essay, I propose that Shelley deliberately uses frame narratives in her short stories to both illuminate and deconstruct the structural, temporal and ideological constraints imposed upon her by publishing within the periodical space. Drawing on narratological and feminist readings of Shelley’s work, I illustrate how two of Shelley’s framed tales, “The Sisters of Albano” (1829) and “The Swiss Peasant” (1831), subtly call into question the “cult of beauty” and Romantic aestheticization of the “ordinary” within The Keepsake and other literary annuals. This argument thus fills a critical void in Shelley studies by properly contextualizing her tales within their own framing device, the literary annual itself.
"Materiality and the Sea: An Archival Exploration of The Sailor’s Magazine"
This short project examined the few and fragile copies of The Sailor's Magazine housed at the Independence Seaport Museum archive in Philadelphia.
One of the first things to notice about The Sailor’s Magazine and Naval Journal is its fragility, which is seemingly at odds with its intended function. The Sailor’s Magazine and Naval Journal was initiated in 1828 by the American Seamen’s Friend Society (ASFS) as part of its project “to improve the social and moral condition of seamen, by united the efforts of the wise and good in their behalf” (“Records of the American Seamen’s Friend Society”) . My research finds that this desire to improve sailors' lives unfortunately fails to account for the magazines' material existence at sea. Though the magazine aims to “improve” the lives of ocean-bound individuals, its conceptual undertones remain stubbornly land-based, as evidenced by its flimsy material construction and cheap production. Thus, the relative weakness of the periodical’s materiality reflects the dominance of its land-based origin and primary promulgation.
"Liberating 'Daughters of Eve': Tracing Gender Stereotypes in Adaptations of C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe"
This project tracks the evolution of gender stereotypes across several adaptations of C.S. Lewis's classic children's novel. It involved conducting archival research on various texts, musical scores, and children's picture books at the British Library in London, UK.
Bringing up C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia in an academic setting means wading into a decades-old debate: whether Lewis was a true misogynist or simply a Christian apologist with hierarchical views of gender. One more project on this topic isn’t likely to end the controversy, since its resolution depends as much on Lewis’s beliefs as your own. Instead, this project explores one area this debate has largely ignored: its influence on the many adaptations of the Chronicles. Since Lewis first published The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in 1950, second- and third-wave feminisms have complicated the male/female binary and shaped contemporary society’s views on women's abilities to perform in more traditionally "masculine" roles. The portrayals of Susan and Lucy Pevensie in visual adaptations of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe follow this trend of so-called "liberation," though even contemporary adaptations, especially those aimed at younger audiences, often slip into traditional gender stereotyping. Thus, the these adaptations raise some interesting questions about the role of literature in shaping gender identities, the ways in which audiences influence adapted works, and the art of adaptation itself.