Long live the Queen! Queen Victoria, that is, for Professor Alison Syme who is the newly elected president of the Victorian Studies Association of Ontario (VSAO), and has the distinction of being the first art historian to hold this position.
A faculty member with U of T Mississauga since 2005 and a past UTM Teaching Excellence Award recipient (2007-08), Syme teaches art history and visual culture ranging from the 18th to early 20th century time period in the Department of Visual Studies. She is the author of A Touch of Blossom: John Singer Sargent and The Queer Flora of Fin-de-Siècle Art (2010), and is currently researching the work of 19th-century artist Edward Burne-Jones for an upcoming book.
As part of her role as VSAO president, Syme will be leading the direction of the 47th annual Spring Conference, which will be held in Toronto in April 2014. Over the course of her two-year term she also hopes to attract more undergraduate and graduate students to the VSAO’s lecture series, draw in scholars from other fields, and to bring attention to UTM’s arts’ programs as well.
“The VSAO evening lecture series is frequently used to introduce new hires to the community of Victorianists,” says Syme. “We have invited Daniel Wright, one of the new English Department faculty members at U of T Mississauga to give a talk this year, for example.” Syme also intends to focus on making the association more interdisciplinary and encourage scholars from various fields to contribute to the VSAO's collective.
Founded in 1967, the VSAO is the second oldest Victorian studies association in the world and currently has approximately 180 affiliates. The association opens its membership to universities, libraries and museums, and fosters the study and promotion of all aspects of Victorian art and culture, which developed in Britain during Queen Victoria’s reign from 1837 to 1901.