Category Archives: Conference

The Reading Art Conference

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The final event of the project was a two-day conference, which took place at BMAG at the end of May. Over 60 people attended over the two days, and we had 27 speakers from all over the world, plus two excellent keynote speakers: Professor John Holmes (University of Birmingham) and Dr Dinah Roe (Oxford Brookes). I’m happy to say that the event was a great success: as well as a range of fascinating and varied papers which really brought out some exciting aspects of Pre-Raphaelitism, we also had a wonderful tour of the stained glass windows by Burne-Jones in St Philip’s Cathedral, and a really outstanding reading of Pre-Raphaelite inspired poetry by the Pre-Raphaelite Society’s poet in residence, Sarah Doyle, which took place, with a wine reception, at the Birmingham Midland Institute.

I am enormously grateful to all those who attended, spoke, or helped out; the event wouldn’t have been the same without such a wonderful community of Pre-Raphaelite scholars and enthusiasts.

The Autumn issue of the Pre-Raphaelite Society Review will contain a number of papers from the conference; I’ll post on here when it’s available (not until December, probably!)



Draft programme for Reading Art conference

Reading Art: Pre-Raphaelite Poetry and Painting, May 27th – 28th 2016

 Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and Birmingham City University

This conference is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council

Friday May 27th

10.00-10.30     Registration and coffee

10.30-10.45     Welcome

10.45-11.45     Keynote lecture: Professor John Holmes, University of Birmingham, ‘The Knowing Hand of the Anatomist: Embodied Psychology in Pre-Raphaelite Poetry and Painting’. Chair: Serena Trowbridge, Birmingham City University

11.45-1.00       Panel 1: Poetry, Painting and Pre-Raphaelite Women


‘Pre-Raphaelite Poetry and Painting: Reading the Rossettis’ Representations of Women’

Lucy Ella Rose (University of Surrey)

Lady Lilith and the Yellow Aster: Pre-Raphaelite portraiture and the literary New Woman

Naomi Hetherington (University of Sheffield)

‘A Symbolist Battle between the Ephemeral and Corporeal: John White Alexander’s Isabella and the Pot of Basil’

Erika Schneider (Framingham State University)

Panel 2: Pre-Raphaelite Science and Nature

Chair: Thomas Knowles, Birmingham City University

‘Symbolic Realism: How Science and Poetry Fused in Early Pre-Raphaelite Works’

Lea Döding (Freie Universität Berlin)

‘Edward Burne-Jones’ The Planets: An Astronomical Poem

Liana De Girolami Cheney (Independent scholar)

‘Vitality in Decay: The Unconventional Poetry of Millais’s Deserted Garden (1875)’

Lindsay Wells (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

1.00-2.00         Lunch (with opportunity to explore the BMAG galleries)

2.00-3.15         Panel 3: Pre-Raphaelitism and Myth


Images of Desire: Twenty Sketches by Simeon Solomon’

Carolyn Conroy (University of York)

‘“Her False Crafts”: Morgan Le Fay and the Wild Women of Sandys’ Imagination’

Sally-Anne Huxtable (National Museums Scotland)

‘Fairy painting and literature: Intertwined lovers of the Victorian era’

Verda Bingol (Istanbul Technical University)

3.15-4.00         Coffee, walk to cathedral

4.00-4.45         Tour of Burne-Jones stained glass at St Phillip’s Cathedral

5.30                 Drinks reception at Birmingham Midland Institute, with a poetry reading by the Pre-Raphaelite Society’s Poet-in-Residence, Sarah Doyle.

7.30                 Conference dinner

Saturday May 28th

10.00-10.30     Registration and coffee

10.30-11.30     Keynote lecture: Dr Dinah Roe, Oxford Brookes University, ‘Words About the Picture: Pre-Raphaelite Frames and the Poetics of Liminality’. Chair: Serena Trowbridge, Birmingham City University

11.30-12.45     Panel 4: Pre-Raphaelite Illustration


‘A “damned proeraphaelite”? George du Maurier’s ekphrastic drawings for Good Words, Once a Week and The Cornhill (1860-65)’

Françoise Baillet (Cergy-Pontoise University)

‘“The Heart that Must be free”: Poems illustrated by Edward Burne-Jones and Simeon Solomon in Good Words for 1862, a comparative study’

Clive Kennard (University of York)

‘The Problematic Art of Illustrating Moxon’s Tennyson’

Heather Stevenson (University of Glasgow)

Panel 5: Painting, Poetry and Music

Chair: Holly Cooper, Birmingham City University

‘James Smetham: Wesleyan Pre-Raphaelite’

Peter S. Forsaith (Oxford Brookes University)

‘Music and Memory: John Roddam Spencer Stanhope’s The Gentle Music of a Bygone Day and William Morris’s The Earthly Paradise

Simon Poë (Independent scholar)

‘“Say nothing”: Sensuality and Temporality in Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s and Walter Pater’s responses to Giorgione’s Concert Champêtre

Luke Uglow (Independent scholar)

12.45-1.45       Lunch (with opportunity to explore the BMAG galleries)

1.45-3.00         Panel 6: Double works


‘“I thank you so much for thinking me still worthy of making so lovely a present to”: Perlascura Twelve Coins for One Queen

Anne Anderson

‘Beyond Ut Pictura Poesis: Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Morris’s Shared Aesthetic’

Brandiann Molby (Loyola University Chicago)

‘The Ideal and the Real in the Sculptural Body’

Jordan Kistler (University of Birmingham)

Panel 7: Pre-Raphaelite Ekphrastic Practice


‘Methods and materials of image-making in the verbal and visual arts’

Lavinia Singer (Roehamptom University)

‘Gender and Space in Pre-Raphaelite paintings of “The Eve of St Agnes”’

Serena Trowbridge (Birmingham City University)

‘Illuminating Objects: New Narratives in Pre-Raphaelite Art’

Johanna Amos (Dalhousie University)

3.00-4.15         Panel 8: Earthly and Divine Love


‘The figure of the Beloved in the poetry and painting of the Rossettis’

Hannah Comer (Independent scholar)

‘“So pure, so fallen!”: Madonna-Whore Complex in the Poetry and Paintings of D. G. Rossetti’

Yashodhara Trivedi (Independent scholar)

‘Love is Hell: Dante, Rossetti and Pre-Raphaelitism’

Robyne Calvert (Glasgow School of Art)

Panel 9: Writing about Art


‘The literary reception of John William Waterhouse’

Kilian Kohn (Universität Heidelberg)

‘“That old affair of an article which I wrote for the Burlington Magazine in 1903 remains unsettled’: William Michael Rossetti and The Burlington

Madeleine Pearce (Independent scholar)

4.15-5.00         Coffee and plenary discussion

Conference Call for Papers


Reading Art: Pre-Raphaelite Painting and Poetry: Conference in Birmingham, 27-28 May, 2016

Keynote Speakers: Professor John Holmes (University of Birmingham) and Dr Dinah Roe (Oxford Brookes University)

Reading Art is a two-day conference hosted by Birmingham Museums Trust and organised by Birmingham City University, on 27th-28th May 2016. The conference is part of a wider project which explores Pre-Raphaelite painting and poetry, and is supported by the AHRC Cultural Engagement fund. For more information on the project and the conference, see our blog:

For the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and those associated with them, painting and poetry were sister arts. Many Pre-Raphaelite paintings were inspired by literature, and many poems were written to accompany paintings. The interest in and practice of these intertwining strands is one which was widespread in Pre-Raphaelitism, from Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Morris to less well-known figures such as Edward Hughes and Marie Spartali Stillman. This conference will explore and celebrate the many ways in which art and literature are related in Pre-Raphaelitism, and there will also be opportunities to explore BMAG’s Pre-Raphaelite collection and visit the Burne-Jones stained glass in St Philip’s Cathedral.

Abstracts of up to 300 words are invited; please send to Dr. Serena Trowbridge ( by March 21st 2016. Topics may include buBeata Beatrix (BMAG)t are not limited to:

  • the work of a particular artist or poet
  • the exploration of depictions of poetry in art, or vice versa
  • readings of the visual and the verbal
  • the broader relationship between art and literature in the 19th century
  • sources of literary/artistic inspiration
  • disjunctions between art and literature
  • subsequent representations of Pre-Raphaelite art or literature
  • Creative submissions will also be considered.