Before Mail Art: Visual Letters Workshop, 23 Feb. 2022

by | Feb 9, 2022 | Events 21/22 | 0 comments

We’re holding our first event in this academic year on 23 February 2022, from 1.45pm at the John Rylands Research Institute & Library on Deansgate.

Join us for an academic led symposium to explore letters as visual objects, exploring interdisciplinary discussion and knowledge. How do we see letters as visual objects? What impact does this have on our understanding of correspondence and how to share letters with a wider audience?

‘A Museum of Relationships: the correspondence of William Hayley (1745-1820) Pictures, practice, & a pandemic. The pilot year(s).’

Dr Lisa Gee (Research Fellow in Future Thinking, University of Birmingham) will talk through the peaks and troughs, disappointments and delights of bringing this pilot edition of eighteenth-century influencer, author and champion of women’s writing, William Hayley’s correspondences to screens of all sizes, and demo both the project back end (built in Omeka Classic), and the public-facing website. This paper will examine how we can best enable people to explore the networks of professional, social and domestic relationships that underpin and facilitate the creation of visual artworks and literary texts and how we can best display letters as visual objects in ways that enhance our understanding of people, texts, artworks and the relationships between them.

‘Drafting Natural Philosophy: The Royal Society’s Visual Letters’

Dr Katherine M. Reinhart (Institute for Research in the Humanities, University of Wisconsin – Madison) will examine the function of visual letters within natural philosophical correspondence networks in the early modern period drawing on material from the Royal Society’s archives. From marginalia drawings to engravings amended on separate sheets, visual material was a prominent part of scientific correspondence. What role did images play in the epistolary networks of early scientific societies? How were these ‘visual letters’ treated upon their receipt? And how did societal record keeping and copying practices impact the preservation and circulation of these images?

We will also be sharing some correspondence material from The Rylands collections with the public in a drop-in Collection Encounter.

To sign up go to:

This event will take place in person at John Rylands Research Institute and Library. You can also attend remotely, as the event will be broadcast live on Zoom. Details on how to join remotely will be included in your order confirmation.


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