Dr Lesley Stevenson

Studio 7: Souvenir

Studio brief


This studio is concerned with those objects that are lent a particular enchantment because of their relationship with the past. It considers the role of memory and how it is embodied in cultural artefacts, such as postcards, photographs, war memorials, landscapes, gardens, tourist trophies, Victorian hair jewellery, mementos, family heirlooms and eBay bargains. It seeks to address the gaps between those private, small objects – the ephemera of everyday life which are often associated with the intimate spaces of the body – and the grander projects of the public body, often artefacts of enduring commemoration. Souvenirs are both traces of highly personal experiences and part of a growing nostalgia industry that is fed by the acts and artefacts of collective remembering.

First seven weeks

  • Week one: Introduction to the studio. What is research?
  • Week two: Exhibition of a relationship. Identifying a topic
  • Week three: This week we are going to consider the relationship between the tourist industry and the souvenir. Trip to Southend or Brighton: send a postcard home. Take a look at Postcard from the Past on Twitter
  • Week four: This week students will present their initial ideas to the rest of the group, either as a presentation or as a poster. Research skills
  • Week five: London’s war memorials. This is a walking tour of London’s war memorials. In Whitehall, we will also have a look at the souvenir shops
  • Week six: Digital souvenirs – this week we will concentrate on websites such as eBay, Depop, Instagram. Referencing / plagiarism
  • Week seven: This week everyone will present their ideas to the rest of the studio

Films to catch if possible

Terence Davies (dir.) Of time and the city, 2008.
Grant Gee (dir.) Innocence of memories, 2015.


You might like to try mudlarking on the Thames in search of accidental souvenirs.
Have a look at Mark Dion’s work from Tate.

Suggestions for reading

  1. Baerenholdt, J.O., Framke, W., Haldrup, M., Larsen, J. and Urry, J. (2004) Performing tourist places, Farnham: Ashgate.
  2. Batchen, G. (2004) "Ere the substance fade: photography and hair jewellery" in Edwards, E. & Hart, J. Photographs, objects, histories: on the materiality of images, London: Routledge.
  3. Baudrillard, J. (1996) The System of objects, London: Verso.
  4. Kwint, M., Breward, C. and Aynsley, J. (eds) (1999) Material memories: design and evocation, Oxford: Berg.
  5. Nora, P. (1989) "Between memory and history: Les Lieux de mémoire", Representations, 26: 7-25.
  6. Shapton, L. (2009) Important artifacts and personal property from the collection of Leonore Doolan and Harold Morris, including books, street fashion and jewellery, London: Bloomsbury.
  7. Stewart, S. (1993) On longing, Durham and London: Duke University Press.

Biography of Dr Lesley Stevenson

Lesley has taught critical and contextual studies in a number of universities in the UK. In particular, she has tutored students to become successful independent learners in the completion of dissertations and theses at BA, MA and PhD levels. In 2015–16 she led the critical theory and design studio and in 2016–17, fashioning culture: clothing and the shaping of identity. She has an MA in Art History and Philosophy from Glasgow University and a PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art. She has written several books, articles and exhibition catalogues on visual and material cultures, photography and cultures of consumption. Currently Lesley is working on a book on still life and death.


Tutor Dr Lesley Stevenson

Dissertation Studios

Studio 1: Another India

Harriet McKay

Studio 1: Another India will examine, reflect upon and critique the historic use of "exotic" motifs in design.

Studio 2: Contemporary Ecology

Nabil Ahmed

In Studio 2 we will explore environmental topics through the lens of art, architecture, spatial practice, media and design disciplines.

Studio 3: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture and the Music Industry

Christina Paine

Studio 3: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture and the Music Industry is an exploration of race, gender, class and more in music.

Studio 4: Not allowed

Emma Davenport

Studio 4: What Not to Wear? will investigate the roles that dress and fashion play in our workplaces.

Studio 5: Imperfect Theories

Ektoras Arkomanis

Studio 5: Imperfect Theories allows you to critically examine any work that can be seen as theory or presents an interesting relationship with theory.

Studio 6: Curating as a Spatial Practice: From the Wunderkammer to Installation art

Nico de Oliveira

Studio 6: This dissertation studio is designed to help students who are interested in curating as a broad subject, as well as those who wish to contextualise their own practice within the scope of displaying art.

Studio 7: Souvenir

Dr Lesley Stevenson

Studio 7: This studio is concerned with those objects that are lent a particular enchantment because of their relationship with the past.

Studio 8: Post – card

Edwina Attlee

Studio 8 will look at one element of that system – the picture postcard – from a number of different perspectives.

Studio 9: ‘The Form of the Text’

Danielle Hewitt

Studio 9: Together we will explore the space of criticism; acknowledging our point of encounter with objects, places, sites and processes and the relationship between text, writer and reader.

Studio 10: Constellating

Sinead Evans

As creative practitioners we digest and produce images every day – as citizens of the digital age we consume between hundreds and thousands of images each day. This dissertation studio will slim down your daily diet to one image.

Studio 11: Science Fiction Futurity

Luke Jones

Speculative descriptions of the future reveal a magnified — or distorted — reflection of the fears and desires of the present.

Studio 12: Alternative Fashioned Modernities

Lezley George

Much is happening in the world today that foregrounds questions pertinent to our identities in a globalised world.

Studio 13: Desire, Trauma, History

Jonathan Whitehall

How does the relationship of memory to fantasy affect history? What are the links between desire, sexuality and trauma? How are these relationships played out or negotiated in visual and written practice? These questions will form the beginning of our enquiries into artworks, films and literature.

Studio 14: Design and Nature: Forms of an Entanglement

Gabriele Oropallo

We will look at how the idea of nature has been constructed over time and place, and study its impact on design practice in an age marked by the sustainability imperative.

Studio 15: Music, Technology and Ideas

Lewis Jones

Studio 15: Music, Technology and Ideas encourages you to explore how and why we make music, including its origin, relationship to technology and more.

Studio 16: Narrative and Storytelling

Jon Baldwin

Studio 16: Narrative and Storytelling will see you produce storygraphs, storyboards and various forms of narrative analysis in the seminars.

Studio 17: Knowing Audiences

Jeremy Collins

Studio 17: Knowing Audiences will encourage you to study an audience group using qualitative research methods in your investigations.

Studio 18: Time and the Image

David Howells

This workshop will address some perennial problems of writing in the field of visual culture.

Studio 19: Material in Motion

Heidi Yeo

Studio 19: This studio will explore a reading of objects focusing on the interplay between materials, the objects they form and their context.

Studio 20: The Liminal

Andrew Hewish

This Dissertation Studio examines instances of the liminal as they occur in critical theory and culture, and is open to any topic and students from all disciplines.

Studio 21: Reading the library (and nothing but the library)

Joseph Kohlmaier

This year, Studio 21 will stage an unusual experiment. It will move, unpack, catalogue, and perform readings from one private library; and make this library, without exception, the single resource for all the research and writing in the studio.

Studio 22: Meaningful work

Paul Harper

Studio 22: Meaningful work explores the value of making and the idea of craft as meaningful work.

Studio 23: A Common Thread

Gina Pierce

Studio 23: In A Common Thread, we unpick and examine the importance of textiles and how they underpin culture, industry, and global connections.

Cass Studios archive by year