Alice Mercier profile

Alice Mercier (2)

Alice Mercier

University of Westminster (2022)


Professor Leigh Wilson


Glass architecture and photography in late nineteenth-century storytelling


My research considers short stories as part of the visual culture that they belong to, and comment upon. This project asks whether short stories are specifically invested in ideas of visuality and visibility; of watching, and of being watched, and whether they are therefore interconnected with the media and materials that shape the visual environments of their time and place. I'm particularly interested in how short stories might be read to reflect an idea or experience of duration that can be understood in light of photographic and visual theory. My first chapter takes nineteenth-century London as a case study, and considers supernatural short stories from the Victorian era in relation to transformations in glass architecture and photography–as materials, media, and practices that shaped visual (as well as inhabitable, and imaginable) environments. This chapter notes analogies between short stories, glass buildings (specifically glasshouses) and photographs, through their contortions of visual space, and, relatedly, as temporally altered spaces, so that short stories might be understood as photo-like or glasshouse-like, and vice versa. My aim is not so much to establish cause and effect, nor to locate the origins of this exchange in any one place or time, but rather to further integrate short storytelling into discourses on (re)configurations of visual space, as well as conceptualisations of duration, in the hope that this illuminates not only the relationships between short storytelling and visual media, but also whether or not the ‘shortness’ of short stories might describe a more complex relationship to time than it initially appears to.