The controversial views displayed in some of the 19th century’s most notable artwork will be the centre of debate during a special event hosted by Edge Hill University.

Leading experts in 19th century art will meet to challenge whether the era’s outdated views still bear relevance to modern society in a virtual event on Friday 12th March, 15:00-18:30.

Breaking Barriers: Nineteenth Century Visual Culture in the Woke Age will welcome speakers from a range of backgrounds to explore how the period’s distinct visual culture interacts with changing social attitudes and ideas.

EHU Nineteen, Edge Hill’s interdisciplinary research group on the long-nineteenth century, and the British Association for Victorian Studies are hosting the event in partnership with The Atkinson in a bid to address the uncomfortable, problematic and even liberating experience of re-evaluating art and its legacies in the age of MeToo, BLM, LGBTQ+ rights, and Extinction Rebellion.

Emma Butcher
Dr Emma Butcher

Dr Emma Butcher, organiser of the event and Lecturer in English Literature and Cultural Heritage, said: “Social movements such as MeToo, BLM, LGBTQ+ rights, Extinction Rebellion have all contributed to the woke age. In these moments of disruption and change, there is an opportunity for reflection on our own social responsibility.

“The long nineteenth century was a time of furious debate, anxiety, and substantial progress, but its outdated views on gender, race and other pressing social issues remain visible, from statues to monuments, buildings to paintings. It is our social responsibility to rethink these objects and consider how they are represented and interpreted in the now.”

Co-organised by Dr Melissa Gustin from the University of York, the event will include a keynote address by Dr Laura Eastlake, Senior Lecturer in English at Edge Hill.

Other speakers include Dr Onyeka Nubia; University of Nottingham, Prof Patricia Pulham; University of Surrey, Dr Nicole Cochrane; University of Exeter/University of Hull, Gemma  Shearwood; University of York.

Tickets for the event are sold out but guests are still able to sign up to a waiting list.

Edge Hill’s Department of English, History and Creative Writing delivers research-informed teaching in English Literature, English Language, History and Creative Writing.