Pockets, Pouches & Secret Drawers

Pockets, Pouches & Secret Drawers
2 December 2021, 1.00pm - 4 December 2021, 3.05pm
Conference / Symposium
Lucy Locket lost her pocket,
Kitty Fisher found it.
Not a penny was there in it
But a ribbon round it.

The title of this conference refers to enclosed places, deception and privacy, focusing on three spatial areas – the body, clothing and furniture. For Baudelaire the weight of memories is like a desk full of hidden drawers; for Carroll the white rabbit’s pocket drives Alice down into Wonderland. Houses contain rooms, which contain furniture with secret contents; bodies enclose pouches, wombs, systems, membranes. All enclosures imply possible exposure but also protect themselves against revelation – why and how? Do boys’ pockets differ from girls’? Is a poacher’s coat, lined with hidden pockets, quite different from the mechanism by which drawers spring out of an eighteenth-century lady’s escritoire to carry when she travels? What is the ‘person’ that hides things about itself? This topic crosses many disciplinary boundaries as well as languages, centuries and media. The conference includes three keynote speakers, parallel sessions and a magic performance.

Download the full 3 day programme

Keynote Speakers

Jack Ashby (Dept of Zoology, Cambridge): ‘Marvelling at marsupials: pouches in nature’ 
Jenny Tiramani (The School of Historical Dress): ‘Gendered pockets: the difference in pockets worn by men and women c.1500-1900'
Carolyn Sargentson (Independent scholar & consultant, formerly Head of Research, V&A): ‘Furniture as theatre: performing secrecy, surveillance and subterfuge’ 

Magic performance: Ashton Carter

Early Career Bursaries Competition

We are pleased to offer a number of Early-Career Bursaries to support attendance at this conference.

The deadline for application, using the downloadable form, is 6 October 2021. You do not need to be giving a paper at the conference to be considered for a bursary, but you do need to be in early career. The definition of ‘early-career’ includes postgraduates & academics up to 10 years after completion of the PhD, and artists in the first 10 years of their creative activity.

Please note: Recipients of an Early-career Bursary will not need to pay the conference fee, so applicants to the Early-Career Bursary scheme are advised to register only after the outcome is known, in mid-October 2021

Un gros meuble à tiroirs, encombré de bilans,
De vers, de billets doux, de procès, de romances,
Avec de lourds cheveux roulés dans des quittances,

Cache moins de secrets que mon triste cerveau.

All are welcome to attend this 3 day online seminar, starting on Thursday 2 December at 13:00 GMT. You will need to register and make payment in advance to receive the online event joining link. Please click on the Book Now button below to register and pay.

Registration Fees: Standard £30  |  Student unwaged £15

Registration closes Friday 26 November - book your place now!

Download guidance on participating in an online event (pdf)


Jenny Stubbs
020 7862 8832