Stirling Maxwell Centre

Published: 20 December 2020

Follow the year's activities of the SMLC Research Centre and The Stirling Maxwell Centre for the Study of Text/Image Cultures.

It’s official: from January 2020 the Stirling Maxwell Centre now includes in its remit the SMLC’s Visual Cultures Research Cluster, thus broadening our reach into the world of Text/Image Studies to include other areas of study, such as cinema and photography. To mark this we are hosting a special Visual Cultures Lecture each year to showcase the work of the Visual Cultures Cluster. Our first featured lecturer was Dr Tatiana Heise, on 27th February 2020, on 'Archive and Photography in Post-dictatorship Cinema'.

Also in February 2020, we welcomed Tamar Cholcman and Assaf Pinkus, from Tel Aviv University, who contributed to our series of public seminars: Tamar Cholcman delivered 'A Play of Emblems in Festivals', and Assaf Pinkus led the two-day postgraduate workshop 'Visual Aggression: Images of Martyrdom in Late Medieval Germany' and the public seminar 'Giants of the North: Imagination, Constructed Memories, and Animism of a Medieval Motif'. Under the aegis of our recent €177,947 Erasmus+ International Credit Mobility award, their visit also led to the finalisation of a schedule of research trips and exchanges for Tel Aviv postgraduate students from March 2020. Despite holding only one Early Modern emblem book in their collection, Tel Aviv University runs a very active postgraduate programme on Emblem Studies, and this exchange sought to address the resource imbalance facilitating access to our vast collection to their postgraduate students. However, this collegiate initiative had to be put on hold due to the pandemic, but will be revisited as soon as possible.

In June 2020, Professor Laurence (Billy) Grove discussed the influence of emblems, Michael Maier, memes and Harry Potter on choral music and their composers, to coincide with 'Virtual Choral Contemplations X - Alchemy and Magic' (music by Maier, Lassus and Arthur Warrell, performed by the University of Glasgow Choir).

The pandemic also took its toll on our Spring 2020 Seminar Series. This started well, with us welcoming ex-Stirling Maxwell Fellow Tomaso Ranfagni (independent scholar), on 'Representing the soul in the Renaissance: the iconographic theme of ‘Tabula Rasa’, but other planned events had to be postponed. However, since then online platforms have provide a viable alternative to in-person public seminars and our Autumn 2020 Seminar Series opened with the re-scheduled seminar by Paul Melo e Castro (University of Glasgow), on 'Colonial Mozambique in Ricardo Rangel’s Our Nightly Bread' (2004), highlighting how the Mozambican photographer resorts at times to an emblematic strategy in the composition of his photobook; Iain Piercy (Scottish Opera) spoke to us on 'An Artist's Journey into Opera and Beyond', an account of art practice in Scotland with wider ramifications. The series concluded with excellent presentations by Stirling Maxwell Centre PhD students Danielle Schwertner and Jordanna Conn, on 'Analysing Identity through Text/Image Relationships: from the Jewish Haggadot to the Glasgow Looking Glass'. The seminars were recorded and will be made available in the coming months.

Meanwhile, work is afoot on developing the Festival Books Project and other exciting initiatives for 2021. This, and a fuller account of our activities can be accessed from the 2019-2020 Annual Report, available from Stirling Maxwell Centre for the Study of Text/Image Cultures.

Follow us on Twitter @UofGSMC.

First published: 20 December 2020

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