Dr Annebella Pollen
Dr Annebella Pollen is Senior Lecturer in the History of Art and Design and Director of Historical and Critical Studies for the Faculty of Arts at The University of Brighton. Her research interests and publications span a range of forms and historical periods but are united by their focus on the visual and material culture of everyday life, and the use of the past in popular culture.
The Visual and Material Culture of Resistance
For 2013-14 Annebella has been awarded a University of Brighton Research Initiatives sabbatical award to develop a new project exploring the role of art, craft, design and dress as forms of resistance, radical educational strategies and utopian ideals in progressive interwar reform organisations including The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift, The Woodcraft Folk and The Order of Woodcraft Chivalry. This research-in-development is the subject of a major AHRC funding bid and will form the basis of a monograph to be published by Donlon Books. Work-in-progress has been shared at conferences including Alternative Modernisms (Cardiff University), 2013 and Utopias (University of Helsinki), 2014.
Research into dress and design histories cuts across many of Annebella's interests. Forthcoming research and publications include the co-edited collection with Charlotte Nicklas, Developing Dress History: New Directions in Method and Practice(Bloomsbury, 2015), and research into historical dress reform. Aspects of this latter work related to Fabian and feminist footwear has been shared at 2013 conferences including Radical Gestures: Designing Protest, Resistance and Refusal (UAL) and The World at Your Feet (Northampton University and Museum) and is forthcoming as a chapter for a Bloomsbury publication on the world history of shoes. Previous research and publications include work on the silhouette as a source for dress history (see below) and 21st century mass-produced dressing-up costumes for girls (Textile History,2011).
Mass Photography and Everyday Life
Annebella’s longstanding research interest is in the history and ethnography of mass photography. Her output in this area has encompassed publications, research papers, posters and exhibition content on the subject of found photos, family albums, vernacular archives, amateur competitions and the photographic industry. This is the focus of her first book, Mass Photography: Collective Histories of Everyday Life (I. B. Tauris, forthcoming).
Annebella's research in this area began with her MA study of the culture of amateur photography in the interwar period and led into an AHRC-funded doctorate at University of the Arts, London ('Identity, Memory, Compassion and Competition: Mass Participation Photography and Everyday Life', 2006-10), which examined the 55,000 photographs of everyday life generated by the One Day for Life project, 1987, now held in the Mass Observation Archive. Since then, the research has expanded to include examination of popular photography more broadly, from the history of high street photo-processing to the interpretation of popular tropes in practice. This work has been disseminated through local, national and international conference presentations, public talks, research seminars, posters and a wide range of publications.Through these projects, Annebella has evolved innovative research methodologies for the interpretation of 'majority' photography and argues for the complex personal significance and social value of a photographic practice frequently dismissed as lacking in intention, ambition and consequence.
Popular Image Culture
Annebella's research interest in popular practices in photography intersects with her work on popular image culture more broadly. This includes research and publications on Victorian valentines (for Early Popular Visual Culture, under review), Edwardian picture postcards (for Photography and Culture, 2009) and the history of the silhouette portrait. In 2013, Annebella jointly led a University of Brighton Springboard Grant-funded research project, with Professor Lou Taylor, Dr Charlotte Nicklas and Nick Tyson, Curator of the Regency Town House, Hove, on this topic. This resulted in a study day and an edited publication, Profiles of the Past: Silhouettes, Fashion and Image 1760-1960, which form a part of the larger Profiles of the Past Heritage Lottery Fund project http://www.profilesofthepast.org.uk/
Methodological Innovations: Using Mass Observation (2009-10) was a research network funded by a University of Brighton Research Innovations grant and co-ordinated by colleagues Mark Bhatti and Louise Purbrick, with the support of Professor Dorothy Sheridan MBE of the Mass Observation Archive. It established a cluster of researchers in arts, humanities and social sciences interested in using and interpreting the unique accounts of everyday life held in the Mass Observation Archive, with the aim of understanding, debating and sharing methods between researchers from a variety of fields, and thereby extending interdisciplinary practice.
As Research Fellow for Methodological Innovations, Annebella helped establish and maintain a lively discussion network of 150 international members; co-organised and contributed to two method and methodology workshops; co-organised and spoke at a sell-out national conference and designed an accompanying exhibition as part of Brighton Festival Fringe, 2010. Annebella's research, building on this project, received an award in the University of Brighton Research Poster competition in 2011, has formed the basis of several conference papers and public talks and is the subject of two academic journal articles (History Workshop Journal, 2013 and Sociological Research Online, 2014).
The Rules of Attraction: Love Objects
The aim of The Rules of Attraction (Royal Pavilion, Libraries and Museums, Brighton and Hove, 2007-8) was to uncover hidden histories of love and romance in local museum collections in order to produce innovative, creative and accessible exhibition content to attract new audiences. As one of six Researcher / Interpreter appointments out of more than 500 applicants, and as part of a team that included a musician, scientist and comedian, Annebella's research into flirtatious picture postcard inscriptions, wartime love tokens and insulting valentines has taken various forms. Outcomes have included Love Objects, a 50,000 word research report, numerous scholarly conference papers and a journal article in Photography and Culture, as well as public talks, website and material for the On the Pull exhibition, Brighton Museum, February-September 2008. Interviews related to this research have appeared in publications as diverse as Picture Postcard Monthly, Collector's Weekly (USA) and the Daily Mail.
University of Brighton Staff Profile