Introducing Enfilade’s First Intern: Freya Gowrley

Posted in graduate students, site information by Freya Gowrley on July 8, 2011

I’ve been delighted by the emails I’ve received expressing interest in Enfilade’s new internship program. At least tentatively, I have the spot filled until the end of the year. And this morning, I’m really excited to introduce our first intern, Freya Gowrley — or more precisely, to allow her to introduce herself. Welcome aboard, Freya! -CH.

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I am thrilled at the chance to work with HECAA and Enfilade. As an English postgraduate student, I had worried I would be unable to be as involved with HECAA, an American society, as I would have liked (unfortunately, there is no equivalent British society for historians of eighteenth-century art and architecture), so I was therefore delighted to read in the second birthday post news of a forthcoming internship that could be completed from any location. I would particularly like to thank Dr. Hanson for this exciting opportunity to get involved with both Enfilade and HECAA itself, and I hope to make a valuable contribution to the team.

I completed my BA in the History of Art at the University of Warwick last year, staying on to complete my MA in ‘British Art and Its Histories’. I am due to submit my thesis in mid-September. My principal research interests revolve around the art and aesthetic theory of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, with a particular emphasis on classicism and the artistic appropriation of other cultures as designators of taste. In broader terms, my research deals with ‘reception theory’ or the way in which certain cultures receive the cultures of another time and place, whilst investigating what this reveals to the historian or art historian about the society under question. Methodologically, I am also interested in the intersection between visual and material culture and how the ‘social life of things’ may be related to art historical discourse.

In my MA thesis, “Taste a-la-Mode: Representing the Consumption of Foreignness in the Long Eighteenth Century,” I explore the manner in which the consumption of foreignness was presented in the visual culture of eighteenth-century Britain. By examining the significance of the recurring symbolic triumvirate of black page boy, exotic pet and tea equipage, I intend to demonstrate a consequential relationship between the consumption of foreign luxuries and the construction and maintenance of respectability during this period, hence the inclusion of such imagery in works satirising the social pretensions of the fashionable elite. I hope to expand and develop the themes of the thesis with a forthcoming AAH session, co-convened between myself and Dr. Viccy Coltman, which will examine the dialogue between nationalism and cosmopolitanism in eighteenth-century British art and its art histories. In addition to being an active member of the Association of Art Historians, I sit on the Student Members Committee.

As of September, I will be a doctoral student at the University of Edinburgh, working toward a PhD in the History of Art with my supervisor, Dr. Coltman. My research will examine female engagement with classical antiquity during the eighteenth century, primarily in relation to its collection, consumption and display as a form of self-representation. I also hope to examine the commissioning of neo-classical works of art and architecture, looking as well at how women were able to engage the Hellenistic world outside of traditionally masculine (or, at least perceived as such) institutions such as the Grand Tour or the Society of Dilettanti.

Again, I appreciate the opportunity and welcome your ideas and comments! -FG.


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