Loco/Motion

After a hellish 24-hour journey home, I finally have the mental capacity to begin digesting this weekend’s Nineteenth Century Studies Association conference. Entitled “Loco/Motion” papers ranged from discussions of steam tricycles and railroads to traveling masculinities and pneumatic transit. My own panel was Movement and Stasis, Part II:

Forward, March!: Allegories of Travel Technology in the Long Nineteenth Century
Caterina Y. Pierre, CUNY Kingsborough
Delivery from Quiescence: Nineteenth-Century Reinterpretations of the Rococo
Olaf Recktenwald, McGill University
Make it Stop! The Freezing of Space/Time in Les Types de Paris
Nicky Agate, New York University
A Sculpture on the Move: Gaston Guitton’s Eve
Maria P. Gindhart, Georgia State University

The conference was fascinating, thoroughly interdisciplinary, and the variations on the theme were compelling and creative. Two moments in particular, however, will stick with me for a long time. The first was Vanessa Schwartz’ riveting keynote, “Getting the Picture of a Century in Motion,” in which she argued for photography as an inherently mobile medium as opposed to a static one. I’d read Dr. Schwartz’ book Spectacular Realities: Early Mass Culture in Fin-de-Siècle Paris over the summer and had loved every word, and so was really grateful to have the opportunity to see her speak. The second was a visit to the Donald G. Larsen Collection of International Exhibitions and Fairs, 1851–1940, which forms part of the Madden Library’s Special Collections at UC-Fresno. The memorabilia itself was interesting enough, but the stacks! Shelf upon shelf of volumes dedicated to World’s Fairs. Four shelves on 1889 — including many of the texts I had traveled to Paris to see in January! Donald Larsen was, I think, tickled to have so many interested visitors (he may or may not have had to physically remove me from the room).

Update as of April, 2014: the entire archive is to be digitized by Adam Matthew!

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