Edge Hill academic awarded Honorary Research Fellowship ahead of major exhibition.

An Edge Hill academic has been awarded a prestigious Honorary Research Fellowship ahead of a major exhibition on the femme fatale.

Dr Laura Eastlake, Senior Lecturer in English Literature, has been awarded the fellowship by The Atkinson museum and gallery in Southport to develop research into ancient worlds and nineteenth-century art.

Laura said: “I’m delighted to be an Honorary Research Fellow at the Atkinson. Aside from being able to research the wonderful art collection, one of my favourite aspects of this role is sharing my research in classics, nineteenth-century culture and gender studies with the different age groups and audiences that the Atkinson attracts.”

Laura’s first role as a fellow is guest curating The Atkinson’s upcoming exhibition, Fatal Attraction: Lilith and Her Sisters, due to open mid-July and run until May 2021, which explores the figure of the femme fatale in art and culture.

“Ancient cultures have bequeathed to us a legacy of female characters in art and literature who have been decried as ‘femme fatales’; the femme fatale is beautiful and dangerous in equal measure.

“Like the sirens of Homer’s Odyssey, she tempts the hero of the story while endangering his heroic quest – and even his life.

“But it’s a story of femininity that has been created and perpetuated by male artists and writers for much of history, from Homer to the Hollywood directors of the golden age of cinema.

“This exhibition charts the long history of the femme fatale and her transformation from an object of patriarchal power to the hero of her own story.”

The exhibition will feature some of the UK’s most significant artworks of mythological, historical and public figures labelled as femme fatales.

Star exhibits include John Collier’s Lilith (1887), Frederick Sandys’ Helen of Troy (1866), Evelyn de Morgan’s Medea (1889), the Queen of the Night relief on loan from the British Museum, and work by award-winning artist Maisie Broadhead, whose art re-interprets the symbols and genres that have been used to represent women throughout history.

This will be the third collaboration between The Atkinson and academics from Edge Hill’s EHU Nineteen nineteenth-century research group.

Stephen Whittle, principal manager for The Atkinson, said: “Over recent years we have developed a range of high quality, innovative projects with Edge Hill University and we are really pleased to be working in partnership with one of the UK’s leading educational institutions again.”

In 2018 Laura, along with Dr Andrew McInnes (Senior Lecturer in English Literature), Dr Bob Nicholson (Reader in History) and Dr Douglas Small (Wellcome Trust Research Fellow, University of Glasgow) curated Dr Jekyll’s Study: Science and Medicine in the Nineteenth Century.

And in 2019 the team curated We Are Not Amused, an interactive exhibition exploring comedy and laughter in the nineteenth century which was opened by the BBC’s Horrible Histories historian Greg Jenner.

Find out more about the range of courses on offer in Edge Hill University’s Department of English, History and Creative Writing.