Heather Tilley is in the final year of her PhD at Birkbeck, University of London, writing a thesis on cultural representations of blindness in the first half of the nineteenth century. Her research focuses on the relationship between tropes of blindness and the figure of the writer. Her wider research interests include the relationship between Romanticism and the Victorians, literary theory and material culture, gender and vision, nineteenth-century biography and autobiography studies.
This review takes the occasion of a workshop given by Martin Myrone, curator of Gothic Nightmares: Fuseli, Blake, and the Romantic Imagination (Tate Britain, 2006) as a starting point to reflect on the practice of curating, and its relation to questions of the verbal and the visual in contemporary art historical practice. The exhibition prompted an engagement with questions of the genre of Gothic, through a dramatic display of the differences between ‘the Gothic' in literature and ‘the Gothic' in the visual arts within eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century culture. I also address the various ways in which 'the Gothic' was interpreted and reinscribed by visitors, especially those who dressed up for the exhibition. Finally, I consider some of the show's ‘marginalia' (specifically the catalogue), exploring the ways in which these extra events and texts shaped, and continue to shape, the cultural effect of the exhibition.