Earlier in the year the National Fairground Archive announced a PhD opportunity to research the topic of performing bodies and anatomical display in the travelling fairground and the popular entertainment context. We are pleased to announce that Vicki Pugh was appointed as the PhD researcher who will spend the next three years working closely with the archive collections.
Vicky has an undergraduate degree from UCL in Anthropology and a Masters degree in Art History.
She will be using the collections of travelling sideshows and exhibitions in a multidisciplinary exploration of the popular presentation of the body as an exhibit, and will research anatomical displays to explore popular constructions of human agency and identity in the twentieth century and what they reveal about contemporary understandings of embodiment and identity.
Vicky stated 'I have just started on the journey of a PhD at Sheffield University as part of the History department. I applied for the PhD position entitled “Performing Bodies: Anatomical display in the twentieth-century fairground” following the completion of my MA and after time working as a gallery assistant in the North East. This involves very close work with incredible resources of the National Fairground Archive. The diversity, depth and availability of resources at the NFA really made this a unique opportunity.'
'The fairground offers a realm where reality was temporarily challenged: it opened new reflections in a specific context where the weird and wonderful was theatrically enframed and contextually contained. Through my research I will explore some of the intriguing and complex dialogues around the body, specifically allowed and facilitated within the fairground context. Throughout, the fairground is regarded as a liminal space in which contradictions are not only created, but are fundamental to its significance in twentieth-century “sense making”. For example, the fairgrounds inclusion of “freak shows” occupy a space between anatomy and art, the living being and the object on display, entertainment and education.'
'Using the National Fairground archives, I also aim to remain sensitive to the materiality of the collection itself. I acknowledge the subjectivity of archival resources, particularly those of photographs of side shows.'
We would like to extend our congratulations to Vicky and welcome her to the Archive and wish her the best on this fascinating journey through our collections.