The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

March 24, 2004

UI Conference To Explore 'Serious Pleasures' April 1-3

Iowans will have a chance to step back in time to the Victorian era when The American Magic-Lantern Theater performs Saturday, April 3 at 8 p.m. in room W10 Pappajohn Business Building (Buchanan Auditorium), as the culminating event of a conference on 19th century leisure pursuits, "Serious Pleasures." The conference, hosted by the University of Iowa April 1-3, will bring together scholars from around the world who are members of the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Association.

The free, public performance by the only professional touring company in the country that recreates Victorian "Magic-Lantern Shows" -- which were popular combinations of color pictures, raucous comedy, and boisterous audience participation -- is a fitting end to a conference that will explore the 19th-century obsession with "Serious Pleasures," said Teresa Mangum, one of the conference organizers. The recreated shows are authentic -- using antique equipment, and the content, music and dramatic style of the 1890s.

Mangum, associate professor of English and interim associate dean of International Programs, said the conference will highlight the work of renowned Iowa scholars who specialize in topics including 19th-century magazines, museum studies, European art movements, early photography, pre-cinematic technologies, European opera, theatre history and popular music.

"We are not interested in the superficial aspects of entertainment," Mangum said. "We want to understand how these means of entertainment are impacted by and affect mass culture because they are deeply instructive of what drives people's attitudes and beliefs."

In addition to UI faculty members, panelists will include scholars from across the nation as well as from Italy, Great Britain, Canada, France and Puerto Rico. Mangum said the three-day international conference is a wonderful opportunity for the UI to showcase its scholarly resources and for faculty and students to network with more than 150 participants who are senior scholars in their disciplines.

The Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Association is an international group of scholars in history, women's studies, art history, anthropology, science studies, philosophy, various literatures, and other disciplines devoted to the interdisciplinary exploration of 19th-century culture and its relation to the contemporary world.

The conference is organized by the UI 18th- and 19th-Century Interdisciplinary Studies Colloquium, an interdisciplinary group of faculty founded by Mangum along with Dorothy Johnson (art and art history), Downing Thomas (French & Italian), Roberta Marvin (International Programs), and Kim Marra (theatre). Support for the conference comes from a UI International Programs Major Projects Grant, an Arts and Humanities Initiative grant, and a Humanities Iowa award. Additional support comes from the UI Graduate College, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the UI Opera Studies Group, and the departments of art and art history, English, history, and Spanish and Portuguese.

For more information or special accommodations to attend this conference, call Kristen Weber at the University of Iowa Conferences and Institutes 319-335-4158.

The Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Interdisciplinary Studies Colloquium is part of UI International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects, and services. Organized under the associate provost and dean for International Programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and training.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,