Edwina Attlee

Studio 8: Post – card

Image credit: From Frank Staff’s History of the Picture Postcard

Studio brief

Neither matter nor space nor time is what, up until 20 years ago, it always was.

So said the writer Paul Valery in 1928. This studio will respond to his provocation, keeping in mind that he was reacting to the modern conveniences of gas, water and electricity, as well as the railway system, the radio, and the newly efficient and global reach of the postal system.

We will look at one element of that system – the picture postcard – from a number of different perspectives. We’ll read it as a technology that altered time, space and subjectivities. And as a structure that linked and shaped experiences of "home" and "away", "everyday" and "the holiday". We’ll think about what was (and is) shown on the picture postcard, and how the one side relates to the other. When it was first introduced the postcard was talked about as an indecent form of communication (because it travelled without an envelope). It was also heralded as truly modern, because you could write "on the go", and democratic, because users were freed from the difficulty and formality of writing a letter. This studio will be a useful place for conversations about modernity, history, technology, privacy, choice, time and space.

"I am reminded here of a fairy play that, as a child, I saw in a foreign theatre. Or perhaps I only fancy I saw it. In the Sorcerer’s palace the furniture spoke and sang, took a poetic and mischievous part in the action. A door opening set off the piping or solemn tones of a village band. If anyone sat down on a pouf, it would sigh politely. At a touch everything breathed forth a melody. I sincerely hope we are not moving toward such excesses in the magic of sound. Even now one can no longer eat or drink at a cafe without being disturbed by a concert. But it will be wonderfully pleasant to be able to transform at will an empty hour, an interminable evening, an endless Sunday, into an enchantment, an expression of tenderness, a flight of the spirit. Days can be gloomy; there are men and women who are very much alone, and many whom age or infirmity confines to their own company with which they are only too familiar. These men and women, reduced to boredom and gloom, can now fill their sad and useless hours with beauty or passion." Paul Valery

Summer preparation

Weeks one to seven: outline and reading list

  1. Extending the edges
    Rebecca Solnit – In The Day of the Postman
    James Douglas – The Postcard Craze

  2. Extending the edges (continued)
    Wolfgang Shivelbusch – Railway Space and Railway Time
    Jules Verne – Around the World in Eighty Days

  3. Holiday
    Rem Koolhaus – Coney Island: the Technology of the Fantastic
    Siegfried Kracuaer – The Hotel Lobby in Detective Fiction

  4. Organising a library (or what to do with information)
    Walter Benjamin – Organising my Library
    One panel from the Ideographies of Knowledge symposium (video)

  5. Picnic
    Daniel Spoerri – An Anecdoted Topography of Chance
    Holly Pester – go to reception and ask for Sara in red felt tip
    Archive visit to be confirmed

  6. Eiffel tower
    Walter Benjamin – The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
    Roland Barthes – The Eiffel Tower

  7. Student presentations of dissertation topics
    There will also be a session on learning from the assessment criteria (8) and structuring a dissertation (9).


The image above is a drawing from the Illustrated London News, October 2, 1909. It is entitled "A Postcard Habit in Germany: the Postman as a walking Stationer and Letter-box". The caption reads: "the rage for picture postcards appears to be still the rage in Germany, as it is in this country. The people of Berlin want to write postcards even when sitting in an open-air restaurant. The cards the postman sells are written there and then, and promptly posted in the letter box which he carries on his back.’"

Image credit: From Frank Staff’s History of the Picture Postcard.


Tutor Edwina Attlee

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