Studies in Cultural Memory and their Social Impact

Submitting Institution

Southampton Solent University

Unit of Assessment

Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies, Literary Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

Dr. Miller, Professor Owen and Professor Wilks' research underpins Cultural Memory studies. It spans several decades and has engaged with and impacted upon academia and society via numerous forms of dissemination such as monographs, chapters in books, journal articles, broadcasts, exhibitions, websites, conference papers and public talks. Cultural Memory is a relatively new area of study that examines, and seeks to raise awareness of, the way in which society, the individual and cultural production is reconstructed via the remaining material evidence. Hence it focuses equally on material evidence and the problematical way in which it is often distorted by contemporary filters.

Underpinning research

Dr. Miller — Senior Lecturer, Fashion Studies, 1994-2010; Fashion research fellow, 2010-present. Miller's research engages with History, Theory and Criticism relating to synergies between art and fashion and the cultural memories that shape them. The knowledge and experience that she acquired first in philosophy and then art history has enabled her to bring unique insights and novel research methods to the study of Fashion. Thames and Hudson's recent commission to produce the definitive book on the history of fashion confirms the degree to which he holistic approach is valued. Her publications exemplify the degree to which her research has engaged with primary sources in the world of fashion, art history, criticism and cultural memory and demonstrate her commitment to pursue fully the polysemic perspectives that unit and separate art and fashion, whilst at the same first time exploring and articulating new insights into the chronology of costume and clothes and the thematic signifiers that govern society's understanding of them.

Owen (Professor of Visual Art and Director of Research — SSU, 1984 - present)
Owen's research in the field of cultural memory is concerned with the way in which ancient wall- paintings (80BC-100AD) discovered in Rome, Pompeii and Herculaneum, from the sixteenth century onwards, have been consistently evaluated according to the cultural values of the society that has rediscovered them. Initially trained as an artist, he began his research career in the early 1970s by pioneering the concept of practice-based research, which involved practical, historical and theoretical methods to re-examine the term `enigmatic' in relation to Giorgio de Chirico's oeuvre. His research highlights the importance of the concept of metaphysical-perspective in the Italian artist work and its relationship to ancient Roman wall-painting. He brought these concepts to prominence via his e-monograph, which is having a significant global impact. His research is also made available via exhibitions, publications and public lectures.

Tim Wilks (Professor of Cultural History)
Wilks joined Solent in 1997, since when he has continued to pursue, inter alia, his research on the under-examined yet important court culture of Henry Prince of Wales (d.1612) and his Circle (doctoral thesis Oxford, 1988). His research has evolved from being conventionally historical in approach (though always embracing art history and cultural history, e.g., scholarly articles on the patronage of artists and the history of collecting) to being concerned with the cultural memory of Prince Henry. He signalled this shift in an introductory essay to Prince Henry Revived (2007), a collection of essays by an international group of scholars, which he edited. He has since focused on significant figures associated with Prince Henry who were deliberately forgotten, both retrieving them and examining why they were excluded from cultural memory. His 2013 biography (the first) of the Scot, Lord Dingwall, followed his 2012 study of the Catholic-yet-loyal Irishman, Richard Burke, Earl of Clanricarde. These projects have increased his understanding of the way in which selective cultural memory invests the movement surrounding Prince Henry and, more widely, Britain's experience of the Stuarts in the seventeenth century, themes that inform his publicly- oriented work.

References to the research

Dr. Miller

• 5,000 words essay entitled `France Possesses a Journal of Taste' (Fashion, Taste and the Fashion Magazine) in: Djurdja Bartlett, Shaun Cole, Agnes Rocamora: Fashion Media: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, Berg, 2013

• 5,000 words essay entitled: `Mobility, Dress and Early Enlightenment Bodies: Hybrids of Ottoman East and West in the Romanian Principalities' in the book: Lewis Johnson (ed): Mobility and Fantasy in Visual Culture, Routledge: Advances in Art and Visual studies, 2013

Professor Owen

• e-monograph: The False-Door: dissolution and becoming in Roman wall-painting, February 2010.
AHRC Sabbatical Grant, 2002-2003: £12,035

Professor Wilks

• Timothy Wilks (ed), Prince Henry Revived. Image and Exemplarity in Early Modern England, (Paul Holberton: London, 2007). 312 pp, introductory essay and two contributory essays.

• Timothy Wilks, `Richard Burke, 4th Earl of Clanricarde and the Early Stuart Court' in Clanricarde's Castle, Portumna, ed. Jane Fenlon, intro., Mark Girouard, ( Four Courts Press: Dublin, 2012), 12,200-word lead essay.

• Timothy Wilks, Of Neighing Coursers and Trumpets Shrill. A Life of Richard Preston, Earl of Desmond and Lord Dingwall (c.1570-1628) (Lucas Publishing: London, 2013), single-author book, 196pp.

Details of the impact

Dr. Miller research has led to invitations to contribute to radio programmes (e.g. BBC Radio 3, A Bridge Between Two Worlds), public lectures and conference papers. Opportunities such as these enabled her work to impact on a wide audience through intellectual engagement and peer review. The subsequent impact of participating in these events is evidenced by the following invitations to publish: her contribution to Arte é Moda (2012, edited by Marco Pedroni and Paolo Volonte), which resulted from her conference paper `Fashion is a craft that must be carried out with the greatest precision (Gabrielle Chanel)', Catholic University, Milan, May 2012; her contribution to `Mobility and Fantasy in Visual Culture (2013, edited by Lewis Johnson) originated as a conference paper delivered at Bahcebeshir University, Istanbul (May, 2011); the paper also led to an an invitation to give the same paper at a conference organised by the Pasold Research Forum entitled Innovation Before the Modern — Cloth and Clothing in Early Modern World, held at the Nordiska Museet, Stockholm, September 2012.

The following commissions demonstrate the importance and impact of Dr. Millers previous publications and will provide yet further opportunities for her research to generate new ways of thinking that will influence theory and practice with regard to academia, the creative industries and public engagement with the humanities:

  1. Fashion Writing and Criticism (with Professor Peter McNeil, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia) commissioned by Berg/Bloomsbury. (UK — October 2014, USA - December 2014).
  2. Fashion Journalism: Theory and Practice, (with Professor Peter McNeil, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia) commissioned by Berg/Bloomsbury. (December 2015)
  3. A New History of Fashion, (sole author) commissioned by Thames and Hudson (130,000 words 5-800 illustrations, Autumn 2015)
  4. Henry Moore and Photography: Photographers' representations of Henry Moore commissioned by Dr. Jennifer Mundy for the Tate's forthcoming scholarly online publication Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, 2014.

Professor Owen's e-monograph is the first publications in 250 years to analyse the symbolic content of Roman wall-painting. Previous publications have hitherto primarily focused on purely formal issues that contextualise the paintings in relation to display and status. According to Google Analytics it is, on average, consulted in 50 Countries and 270 cities. In some instances daily readership has reached the near 200 mark when the site has been incorporated into, or promoted by, external events, such as exhibitions on Pompeii or Roman art in general. Reader's comments range from insightful gratitude to requests for more specialist information in support of their studies.

Professor Wilks' long-term research on Henry, Prince of Wales led to his 2-year involvement, as chief consultant, for the `Lost Prince' exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London (Nov. 2012 - Jan. 2013). The exhibition relied heavily on his unrivalled knowledge and insights and was visited by 30,000 people and achieved extensive public impact by being featured in BB2 and BBC4 documentaries, Channel 4 News, Radio 3 In Tune (twice), and by being prominently reviewed in the national press, e.g., The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph, and was chosen as the front cover feature review for an issue of the Sunday Times Culture Magazine. This wider impact is confirmed by the dedicated website - 65,000 hits, and by Social Media analysis conducted by the NPG. Wilks co-authored the exhibition's 192-page catalogue (3,500 copies sold in the first year), which as well as introducing Prince Henry to a new audience presents this Renaissance prince as an object of cultural memory. The exhibition strongly conveyed Wilks' emphasis on the fashioning and re- fashioning of Prince Henry in a cultural-memory context; and his research theme concerned with examining the tension between the importance of knowing the iconicized prince and Henry the person. Reflecting the success of this attempt to communicate such ideas, a previous Booker prize-winner commented... "one of the most fascinating and moving exhibitions I've ever seen; every single thing in it of absorbing interest, and a (to me) virtually unknown story. It seemed to me such a model of what an exhibition should be — indeed almost to take such a thing into a new dimension of cultural/historical/artistic narrative." As a result of his involvement with the Henry exhibition he is now acting as consultant to the virtual-reality company LightMix Ltd, who are involved in recreating the lost gardens in Prince Henry's Richmond Palace. His previous publications "Plundered Art", Lord Dingwall, & The Lost Prince, also confirmed Wilks as an authority on the role of art and cultural memory in conflict situations in the Early-Modern period, as result he is contracted to write an 8,000-word essay — "The Art and Architecture of War, Revolution and Restoration" in The Oxford Handbook of the English Revolution, ed. Michael Braddick (OUP, forthcoming, 2014). He has also been asked to enlarge on themes introduced in his Introduction to The Lost Prince in a commissioned 8,000-word essay — "Prince Henry and the Politics of Expectation" in The Age of Shakespeare, ed. R. Malcolm Smuts (Oxford Handbooks of Literature, OUP, forthcoming, 2014),

Sources to corroborate the impact

Dr. Miller
Miller's book on Constantin Brancusi (Critical Lives), Reaktion Books, 2010 was reviewed by:

  • Ruth Wallach, University of Southern California in: Slavic and East European Journal, 55.1, Spring, 2011, pp.131-3;
  • Caroline Levitt, Courtauld Institute of Art in: Slavonic and East European Review, vol.89, nr.3, July 11, (unpaginated)

The impact that will follow from the four forthcoming books cannot be predicted, but given the high profile nature of the publishing houses (T&H, Berg/Bloomsbury, Tate Gallery, it is anticipated that it will be substantial.

Professor Owen
Owen's decision to publish online was motivated by the fact that throughout the research process he received funding and practical support from numerous public organisations such as the AHRC (details above) and several international organisations such as the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei e Roma; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the British School at Rome. Global impact, in quantitative terms can be measured by Google Analytics, which indicates it is being accessed on average in 50 Countries and 270 cities. Email feed back from specialist and non specialist readers has been overwhelmingly positive, for example "Seven trips to Pompeii were not enough, I plunged with delight into your site...Bravo & Merci ! Pascal Lamoglia, France); "Thanks again for the resource. It has and will continue to be much appreciated". (Robyne Melia and Ross McLeod, Australia); "It was great reading your book on Roman wall painting... I have read quite a few books on the topic and enjoyed very much how you approached the subject almost `from an artist's perspective'. (Catrin Huber, Artist, Italy). "I wanted to write to you to tell you how much I enjoyed your beautiful, well illustrated treatise,...By pursuing my own curiosity, I came upon your beautiful web book, and find your thesis of the house as a sacred space, and the door imagery as portals to metaphysical realms very compelling.... I wanted to share with you my admiration for your project." Ellen Horan, Novelist, USA); "This concise online essay will change the way you view Roman painting!" (Cultus Deorum website)

Professor Wilks

  • `Portraits of a Lost Prince' by Christopher Hart, The Sunday Times Culture magazine, 30.09.12, (cover story). — `a fascinating new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery...points to one of our greatest lapses of national memory: the life of Henry Stuart, Prince of Wales.'
  • Laura Cumming, `The Lost Prince — the Life and Death of Henry Stuart', The Observer, 21 10,2012 - `Art begins to put Prince Henry back together. This seems to happen before your very eyes in The Lost Prince at the National Portrait Gallery, a riveting show of art and objects.'
  • Andrew Graham-Dixon, `The Lost Prince', The Telegraph, Seven magazine, 26.10. 2012. - "A fascinating what-if of an exhibition; its subject is the king who never was. This is not so much an exhibition of objects as a display of hopes doomed for disappointment."
  • Brian Sewell, `The King who never was', Exhibition of the Week, Evening Standard, 6.12.2012.
  • `At the National Portrait Gallery', Rosemary Hill, London Review of Books, 34,(23), 06. 12. 2012 - `scholarly in detail and spectacular to view... an attempt to rediscover the truth behind the later myths'.