The School of English to welcome Glenn Adamson, Head of Research at the V&A Museum, as visiting professor

The School of English and the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, in association with the School of Architecture, are delighted to welcome Glenn Adamson, Head of Research at the Victoria and Albert Museum, as a visiting professor. He will be on campus on 29th and 30th November and, in addition to running a series of workshops with our students, he will be giving two public lectures: 

29th November 3.00-4.00 CREAte Architecture lecture on ‘Substance Abuse: Postmodernism and the Image of Architecture’  Eliot, ELT 2

Curating a major exhibition on postmodernism is rather like trying to draw a completely reflective surface, which repels any attempt to verify its contours.  Or like Orson Welles, shooting the final scene of The Lady from Shanghai, in which the heroine and the villain of the film are trapped in a ‘magic mirror maze’ at the funhouse.  This climactic scene culminates in random gunfire, which brings the myriad images crashing to the floor. In the same way, postmodernism has always presented onlookers with a dizzying refractory play, which resolves only in its collapse, and only in hindsight. In this lecture, Glenn Adamson will trace a somewhat arbitrary route over this heap of fragments, arguing that it was the surfaces of the postmodern era – whether glossy and glamorous, or distressed and dystopic – that constituted its very core.

30th November 4-5 KIASH lecture on ‘The Future: A History’ Darwin, DLT1

Glenn Adamson’s lecture will be the first public unveiling of plans for an exhibition to be held at the V&A in Spring 2016. As he will explain, the project surveys practices of projection and prediction in art and design, from the middle ages to the present day. The show will range widely, from medieval visions of the last judgment through utopian architecture of the enlightenment, nineteenth-century dreams of flight and depictions of future fashions, to prototyping practices in modern industrial design and the latest imaginings of our own future. Throughout, the emphasis is on the leap of insight that occurs when designing something seemingly improbable or impossible.

Glenn Adamson leads the V&A Research Department, working closely with colleagues within the museum and in collaboration with scholars and institutions worldwide. He holds a PhD in art history from Yale University, and was previously curator at the Chipstone Foundation in Milwaukee. Dr. Adamson co-curated (with Jane Pavitt) the exhibition Postmodernism: Style and Subversion, 1970 to 1990, which opened at the V&A in 2011. He has also written widely on craft history and theory, in such books as Thinking Through Craft (2007), The Craft Reader (2010), and The Invention of Craft (2012); and has edited numerous publications including the triannual Journal of Modern Craft, the volume Global Design History (co-edited with Giorgio Riello and Sarah Teasley, 2011), and Surface Tensions (co-edited with Victoria Kelley, 2012).