Frances Varley

PhD Student

Collecting, Identity, and the Region in Manchester and Philadelphia, c.1870-1914

Supervised by Professor David Peters Corbett

Advised by Dr Esther Chadwick

Centre for American Art

 

My research focuses on the ways in which collections were used as tools in the negotiation of individual, communal, and local identities in Britain and the United States in the years between 1870 and 1914. By highlighting comparative case studies in Manchester and Philadelphia, I interrogate how civic concerns of cultural, economic, and geographic peripherality intersected and impacted individual attempts at self-presentation through collections and their display. In doing so, my research explores the extent to which the individuals were regional actors and the ways in which facets of the self coalesced in conjunction with concerns of local stability, community, and identity. Through its focus on the interconnected histories of museums and collecting in Britain and the United States throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this project considers the social and ideological functions of art. It considers collections, museums, and bequests as vital means of negotiating identity, self-representation, and ideology.


Education

  • PhD: The Courtauld Institute of Art
  • MA History of Art: The Courtauld Institute of Art. Special Option: New York – London – Paris, 1880-1940
  • BA (Hons) History: Somerville College, University of Oxford

Research Interests

  • British and American art, c.1850-1920
  • Regionalism and place
  • Centre/periphery relations
  • Identity and self-definition
  • Collecting and collectors
  • Social and public functions of art
  • Digital art histories
  • Transnational methodologies

Awards, Grants, and Fellowships

  • Association for Art History Scholarly Research Grant (2021)
  • Terra Foundation Research Travel Grant (2021)
  • Courtauld Scholarship (2020 – 2023)
  • Alice Horsman Award, Somerville College (2018)

Teaching

  • 2021-2022: Teaching Assistant, The Courtauld Institute of Art: Frameworks (BA2)
  • 2021: Teaching Assistant, The Courtauld Institute of Art: Summer University (introduction to Art History for Year 12 students from non-selective state schools)

Conferences and Events

  • Organiser – Digital Approaches to Histories of Nineteenth-Century American Art, organised by The Courtauld Centre for American Art (2022)
  • Panel Chair – ‘Transmission’, American Art and the Political Imagination, organised by The Courtauld Centre for American Art (2022)
  • Speaker – “Not of the Ordinary Type” – Thomas Coglan Horsfall and the Manchester Art Museum’, Radical Victorians: Race, Labor, Identity, organised by The Frick Pittsburgh, Yale University, and Carnegie Mellon University (2022)

Other Activities

Citations