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The Materials of Mourning: Death, Materiality and Memory in Victorian Britain

Saturday 3 December 2011, 9.30AM to 6.00pm

'The death of Prince Albert has turned England into a land of mourning.’ Lord Dufferin, February 1862

Timed to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Prince Albert’s death, this one-day symposium seeks to investigate how grief was manifested and mourning facilitated in the Victorian period through literature, material culture and the visual arts. Often satirised but rarely understood, this event aims to recover the rich culture of mourning in the Victorian period by showcasing current research and encouraging conversation, debate and interdisciplinary exchange.


9.30-10.00  Registration

10.00-10.15  Introduction , Claire Wood, University of York

10.15-10.45  ‘Posthumous Portraiture and the Materiality of the Corpse’ , Eoin Martin, University of Warwick

10.45-11.00   Coffee

11.00-12.00  Panel One: The Materiality of the Body

  • ‘The Dear Precious Relics and Hair’ , Jane Wildgoose, Kingston University

  • ‘Hair, Memory and Mourning Jewellery: The Nineteenth-century Fabrication of Death’ , Lucetta Johnson, The Courtauld Institute of Art

12.00-13.00  Panel Two: Handling the Corpse

  • ‘“Her Blameless Memory Upcast”: the Body of Princess Elizabeth Stuart in Nineteenth-century Culture’ , Sarah Clark, University of York

  • ‘Handling the Corpse in Late-Victorian Supernatural Tales’ , Sarah Bissell, University of Glasgow

13.00-13.45   Lunch

13.45-14.45  Panel Three: Apparel of Mourning

  • ‘Grief, Gender and Mourning in Victorian England’ , Helen Frisby, University of the West of England

  • ‘Shades of Black: Process and Finish in Norwich Mourning Fabrics’ , Ann Christie, Independent Scholar

14.45-15.45  Panel Four: The Death of Children

  • ‘No Greater Sorrow: Infant Mortality and Social Realist Painting in Victorian Britain’ , Miruna Cuzman, University of Edinburgh

  • ‘Post-Mortem Photography of Children in Victorian Britain’ , Brittany Hudak, Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Museum of Art

15.45-16.00   Coffee


16.00-17.00   Keynote Lecture: ‘Casts, Masks and Relics’ , Marcia Pointon, Emeritus Professor in History of Art, University of Manchester 


17.00-18.00   Victorian Funeral Tea and Roundtable , foreword by Lucy May, Independent Scholar

Registration is now open for this event. There is a £5 registration fee that includes lunch, refreshments and a drinks reception. Participants will need to cover their own travel expenses. To register, please download the registration form and send a completed hard copy, along with a £5 cheque made payable to ‘The University of York’, to:

Helen Jacobs, Humanities Research Centre, Berrick Saul Building,University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, UK

Please direct any questions to .

For updates and further details please visit the blog:  


Location: Humanities Research Centre, Berrick Saul Building