Conference: Objects and Remembering

Programme for the Objects and Remembering conference has now been uploaded by the organisers:

I’ll be offering my paper:

“Dolls and Ephemera: Memory & Imagination in the Objects of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House”

Whilst working as a Curatorial Research Assistant on the Elizabeth Gaskell’s House renovation, engaging with objects for remembering (and imagining) has been at the forefront of my activities. The Elizabeth Gaskell’s House project, and its success as a place of “heritage”, relies upon this very need, desire, to reconnect back through objects and spaces. One object in particular has caught my attention: a mystery doll. Thought to have been the plaything of the Gaskell daughters, Lizzie Doll (as I have named her) exemplifies how objects serve to facilitate imaginative projections of a past outside living memory. We cannot be sure of the history attached to Lizzie Doll (her creator, owners, use), but we can be certain of her presence within the House, and thus the doll’s very tangible, material connection to the Gaskells. Significantly, associations and personal memories of “dolls” will serve to shape future audience encounters. Elizabeth Gaskell’s House aims to communicate narratives of heritage with post-industrial audiences; the personal “memory” or anecdote evoked by an object on display (or for use in handling sessions) offers an interesting and complex method for continuing, in this case, the “afterlife” of a female writer.



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