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cfp: Ways of Seeing: Women and Photography in Scotland symposium / submission by 11 October 2019

The National Trust for Scotland is pleased to invite papers for the Second Morton Photography Symposium, to be held on Thursday 2 April 2020 at Glasgow Women’s Library, titled 'Ways of Seeing': Women and Photography in Scotland.

The Trust’s major photographic collections feature many women as takers, collectors, preservers or subjects. Prominent examples include the c.6,000 images taken by folklorist Margaret Fay Shaw, the family albums compiled by Violet May Brodie (née Hope) and the hundreds of photographs collected and kept by Glaswegian Miss Agnes Toward, all of which frequently depict women. These photographs show Scottish women in many lights – artist and model, wife and socialite, mother and sister, amateur and academic.

The images of these women breathe life into our places and can help institutions like the Trust improve at putting women of all backgrounds at the centre of the stories we tell about our history. The aim of this symposium is to explore how photography is used to tell women’s stories. We are particularly interested in how this is done in historic houses and heritage/museum spaces, and intend to challenge the existing display and interpretation practices of these institutions. We are also especially interested in photographs taken by Scottish women or depicting women’s lives in Scotland, as well as photographs where the absence of women can tell stories of their overlooked and marginalised lives.

Proposals are welcomed for papers on any of the above themes, or in response to any of the questions below:

  • How has the camera impacted the representation of Scottish women or women in Scotland?
  • How has photography by women illuminated the stories of marginalised women?
  • What are (especially Scottish) women’s unique ‘ways of seeing’ the world through the camera lens?
  • How has the camera been used to objectify women in Scotland, or Scottish women abroad?
  • How have women photographers in Scotland, or Scottish women abroad, taken control of their own image?
  • How does gendering the ‘woman photographer’ position them as ‘other’?
  • Where are the women in our public photographic collections?
  • Where are the women of colour in our public photographic collections, and what are the consequences of
    their absence to our national identity?
  • How are photographs being used (or failing to be used) to tell women’s stories in museum and heritage
    institutions, including historic houses?
  • How has photography by Scottish women or women in Scotland been collected or displayed in the past?

As well as full-length papers, we welcome proposals for the Shutter Speed Session that will take place during the symposium. This will be a quick-fire series of 5-minute talks followed by questions.  We intend to publish the proceedings in a special edition of Studies, the journal of the Scottish Society for the History of Photography.

Please send a proposed title and abstract of 200-300 words for a 20-25-minute paper (or 100 words for a 5-6 minute paper for the Shutter Speed Session) to Ben Reiss at by Friday 11 October. Please note if you would be happy for your proposal to be considered for either format.

Prospective speakers at any stage of their career and from any personal or professional background are encouraged to submit. We particularly welcome submissions from women across race, gender identity, disability, class and sexuality. Travel bursaries may be made available to full-time students, people not in work or those on a low income. Any enquiries about delivering a paper or attending the symposium may also be directed to Ben at the above address, or phone 07864 918969.

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