Dr Grace Brockington, University of Bristol


ICE is an interdisciplinary network which examines internationalist ideologies and processes of cultural exchange at a crucial historical moment. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were characterised by rising nationalism, imperialism and war. But they were also marked by movements for international cooperation, a developing international infrastructure, and experiments in transnational ways of living. The arts were central to this dialogue between nationalism and internationalism. Artists were expected to play their part in the building of national traditions, but their lives and practices were often cosmopolitan. Yet, despite the vigour of internationalist thinking, historical enquiry in the arts has been largely preoccupied with national traditions. ICE challenges that emphasis. It builds on recent initiatives by ICE convenors and others (conferences, publications, collaborations, exhibitions) to deliver a sustained and collective discussion about the role of arts-based disciplines in the expanding field of transnational history.


The thematic structuring of our project proposes a constructive alternative to the model of national schools, making room for a radical reassessment of cultural canons, chronologies, movements, and artists’ lives. There are three strands to our enquiry: ‘Sites of Internationalism’, ‘World Citizens’ and ‘Language and Translation’. They examine the ways in which artists at the fin de siècle reimagined society, developing their own infrastructures and modes of communication in order to transcend national borders. The crossing of boundaries is fundamental to the project in several ways: the network is interdisciplinary, comparing a range of art forms; it involves collaboration between different universities in the UK and overseas, and between universities and research-active museums; its subject-matter is international; and it promotes the application of new research to teaching.


The network has operated through a series of day workshops convened at the University of York, the University of Bristol, Northumbria University, Tate Britain, the Jagellonian University in Krakow, the University of Oxford, and ARoS Aarhuus Kunstmuseum, culminating in a two-day plenary conference at Tate. Selected proceedings will be published as part of a dedicated book series under contract with Peter Lang.


Dr Grace Brockington

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