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17 Jul 2019

Call for Papers: Second Morton Photography Symposium at Glasgow Women’s Library

Written by Ben Reiss, Morton Photography Project Curator
A page from a photo album, divided in half with a watercolour of ivy. There are 12 small photos and 12 signatures visible.
Page from a photograph album recording visits to Broxmouth Park and Luffness Castle, compiled by Violet May Hope (later Brodie), 1899 © National Trust for Scotland, Brodie Castle
The National Trust for Scotland, in collaboration with Glasgow Women’s Library, is pleased to invite papers for the second Morton Photography Symposium, to be held on Thursday 2 April 2020 at Glasgow Women’s Library.

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 c6,000 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.

A sepia photo of a woman sitting on rocky ground. She holds a large camera and the soles of her boots face the viewer.
Photographic print of Margaret Fay Shaw on Inishmore, Aran Islands, 1929 © National Trust for Scotland, Canna House

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, to be held in collaboration with Glasgow Women’s Library, is to explore how photography is used to tell women’s stories. We’re 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’re 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 in Photography, the journal of the Scottish Society for the History of Photography.

Please send a proposed title and abstract of 200300 words for a 2025-minute paper (or 100 words for a 56-minute paper for the Shutter Speed Session) to Ben Reiss at by Friday 25 October 2019.

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.

The Morton Photography Project has been funded by the Morton Charitable Trust since 2014. The Project supports National Trust for Scotland staff in using and looking after our photographic collections. In 2018–21, the Morton Photography Project will undertake research, publish articles and run engagement projects on these collections Trust-wide, as well as digitising and documenting photographic collections across the National Trust for Scotland.

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